We can’t separate the World Cup from the real world

The first goal scored in a World Cup is exhilarating. It’s a release of four years of anticipation. It’s a signifier that the greatest sporting event to ever exist has truly started — the ribbon-cutting of the beautiful game on its biggest stage. When Yury Gazinsky scored Russia’s first goal against Saudi Arabia, the crowd erupted and he was swarmed by his teammates before he could even begin to properly celebrate.

That moment of joy was quickly followed by discomfort when the camera panned to Russian president Vladimir Putin laughing and shaking hands with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, while FIFA president Gianni Infantino sat in between.

We love to think of events like the World Cup as being transcendent. We wish for them to be places of escape from the problems of the real world, a space where otherwise different people people can relate to and understand each other, where we can come together in celebration.

The image of the three men encroached on the idealism of the World Cup. It jerked us back to world politics and the forces behind it.

In his own speech before the game, Putin echoed the sunny view that the World Cup can be a unifying force:

“We have been

Article source: https://www.sbnation.com/2018/6/14/17465706/vladimir-putin-handshake-russia-vs-saudi-arabia-world-cup-2018

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