Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.
After kicking off on 12 June, the biggest sports show on the
globe, FIFA World Cup 2014, is in full swing.
Over three billion people are following the World Cup now.
And by the time the final is played on 13 July, more than
half the entire population on the globe will be watching to see
who wins the World Cup.
Why is this tournament so mind boggling and all
Because it is the most popular sport on this earth.
Yes, Indians are obsessed with cricket but it is played by
hardly 15 major nations while football is more important than
any sport in most of the 192 countries of the world.
The fans are fanatic about the teams they support and the
players they worship.
Football has become the new religion.
Think about it!
The word ‘religion’ comes from the Latin word ‘religare’
which means to bind.
Football binds millions with each other and for a common
aim in support of their favourite team and their country.
Like religion, football also divides people even to
Watch the football hooligans after their team has won or
lost a match.
Like religion, football has an intricate set of rules and
Like religion, it brings the faithful together regularly
in blind faith in regular worship in stadia.
The stadia are the new churches.
The fans are the worshippers congregating in tens of
Dressed in team colours, the fans come with painted faces
with words and crosses, carrying flags and banners.
They shout and scream with great faith and fever.
The players are gods and demi-gods.
The service starts with the whistle for the match.
The fans go on pilgrimage to overseas countries across
the globe to worship the football gods.
The players say ardent prayers before entering the field
invoke God for a goal and kneel down to thank God on scoring
a goal and winning the match.
Just like the churchgoers.
Parallels are made between religious faith and the faith of
the football fans.
And their gods are the top players starting with the
legendary Pele, followed by Diego Maradona, Franz Beckenbaur,
Johan Cruyff, David Beckham, Garrincha, and Zinedine Zidane
among others in the pantheon.
Who could deny that football has crossed the line into the
territory of religion when in Argentina, you can visit the
"Church of Maradona", and worship with devoted followers of the
living "God", Diego Maradona.
This reflects his ‘hand of God’ goal, no doubt!
What happens when you watch a World Cup match?
You are concentrating on the game until the final
Like the Buddhist saying, ‘Many in body, one in mind’ you are
totally focused on every move by every player.