The World Cup: Diversity Wins!

Soccer is my favorite sport. I have played my whole life and coached kids from five years old all the way up to the college level.  I was a much better coach than I was a player. The last month or so has been World Cup fever all over the world. I was able to watch many of the weekend games and watched the final yesterday. France won! The French team was the perfect example of international/ethnic diversity, with names like Griezmann, Mbappe, Pavard, Pogba, Fekir, Hernandez, to name but a few. It was a beautiful thing to see players from all over on the world stage claiming the biggest prize of them all. The French team has players with roots from all over the world, but most of them were born in France. Migration has certainly played an important role here. But it goes beyond soccer and permeates the entire society.

In many developing nations, soccer is the only way out of poverty for many youngsters, While education is the key, many, because of circumstances, are not able to obtain an education. When I was a child we played barefooted on rocky ground; and many still do. We used anything round we could find when a soccer ball was not immediately available. I remember the piecing together of paper and tape, using rotten oranges and much worse. It’s just what we did. In many European nations, soccer is used as a tool for integration and a ladder out of poverty. The French and Belgians are great examples of such integration.

The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. Yes, it is bigger than the Olympics and the Super Bowl. This is both in terms of number of fans and in economic terms. Soccer continues to grow as a sport here in the United States. Just yesterday, after the World Cup, there was a Major League Soccer (MLS) game between the Atlanta United Football Club and the Seattle Sounders Football Club; the Atlanta stadium was filled with a record 72, 200 fans. These U.S. teams also have a diversity of international players.

While my two favorite teams, the United States and Ghana did not make it to the World Cup this time, there is still hope for 2022. Meanwhile there is some poor kid living under dire and challenging circumstances, just like a Pele or Mbappe, who will show up on the world stage to show the world that in soccer, all things can be equal. Many times, diversity emanates from migration, so migration has its role in any nation. I end by saying that the United States is the greatest nation in the world because of our diversity. And France is the greatest soccer nation in the world today because of the diversity of their soccer team. Diversity wins!

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