If the World Cup was a sitcom, Russia 2018 would be the series finaleby Carl Anka / July 10, 2018 / Leave a comment
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the last of its kind. After July 15 2018, there will be no more 32 nation summer World Cups. Russia 2018 will serve as the series finale to a 20-year-long chapter of world football that started with France 98. And as with many well-received series finales, it’s packed full of throwbacks to previous episodes.
Put simply, the 2018 World Cup has quietly been a Greatest Hits compendium of all other World Cups from this period.
There’s a young mercurial striker tearing up the tournament. There’s a host nation mak-ing a deep run and bossing Spain; there’s vuvuzelas and African nations becoming every-one’s sartorial second team in the stadium; there’s the hosts of the pervious World Cup getting knocked out in the group stage. Time is a flat circle and the World Cup is an ouroboros.
As with many forms of fandoms, football sees people hand over their identity to a greater whole in the hope their investment is repaid in kind. In that sense, it is as much about storytelling as it is about the specifics of gameplay.
The World Cup takes stories from 32 nations and pits them against each other. Football fans open their hearts, minds and (very often) wallets, mix their hopes and dreams and stories with a few hundred thousand people’s, and hope their combined weight can allow those dreams to be spoken into existence.
Stories of national pride, international rivalry, and dreams of absolution are all set loose to clash, react to and inform each other.
Already (at time of writing, 60 out of 64 games have been played) this World Cup has seen, for instance, Argentina realising they only have one more tournament of Lionel Messi, and trying to use that story to beat the story of France—one in which the team makes up for a disappointing Euro 2016 final defeat by delivering another World Cup win 20 years on from their first triumph.
It has seen Brazil trying to tell a story that banishes the bad…