Exciting times are coming

Tomorrow, thousands of Fijians join billions of soccer fans around the world to watch live the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Picture: RAMA

CALL it what you want. Does it really matter? Tag it whatever label you want. Tomorrow, thousands of Fijians join billions of soccer fans around the world to watch live the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. There is excitement in the air. You have got to be a soccer fan to realise how big this is. We are finally leaning towards the end of months of speculation. Who will come out on top? Would we be unveiling new stars of the game? Would there be a new champion? Or would Germany defend its title? Brazil hit a brickwall at the last World Cup, which ironically it hosted. Brazilian fans were shell-shocked. Leading up to the first game in Brazil, things weren’t all rosy then. There were protests, overwhelming concern about preparations for the event, and security issues leading up to opening day. Attention is now firmly on Russia. Tomorrow starts the process of determining the FIFA World Cup champion. Thirty-two teams from five confederations will converge on 12 venues in 11 host cities to compete for top honours. The hosts are scheduled to play Saudia Arabia at 3am our time tomorrow before Egypt takes on Uruguay at 12am on Saturday followed by Morocco playing Iran at 3am and Portugal taking on the might of Spain in a much anticipated clash at 6am, and France playing Australia at 10pm. The Australians, facing a massive challenge, will no doubt attract as much attention here and in other countries around our region. Fans around the globe will focus on a sporting spectacle that is miles ahead of any other major event. It is arguably one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. Who can ever argue about the massive global reach this event has? Who can ever argue about its amazing statistics on television viewership or internet access around the world? FIFA estimated at least 3.2 billion people watched the 2014 World Cup. One billion people viewed the final. Fans will share the joys of the beautiful game. They will lap up the excitement associated with the various teams and their superstars. They will savour the goals, embrace the many beautiful moments and the opportunity to be part of history. There can be no doubts about the popularity of soccer. Fans are set to begin a journey of fun, enjoyment and to some extent, faith. For many, it is the beginning of a feast of soccer. For the players, tomorrow starts a journey that will give them an opportunity to test themselves at the highest platform of the game, mixing it with the best from around the world. This is the ultimate goal, the pinnacle of soccer careers. For some people, it has to rank right up there with the best of things in life. Race, religion, colour and every other imaginary divides will take a back seat as the excitement of the World Cup takes over. Whatever team you cheer for, we hope the FIFA World Cup will bring you joy.

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