The Pharaohs’ real, momentous win
By the Gazette Editorial Board
HE image of the German astronaut in the cockpit of the International Space Station enjoying live transmission of the 2018 World Football Cup games is probably the strongest depiction so far of how this sporting activity has since its inception in the 60s of the 20th Century evolved into the world’s most-favoured and largest-spread sports. Today, the number of football fans across the world is widely estimated in the range of 3.5 billion, far exceeding the figure for any other sport. Of equal importance is the fact that football has concomitantly transitioned into a complex industry with a strong economy and a prospering, though at times risky, business – a quality that has indeed added much potentials, appeal, attraction and glamour to the game. Grace be to the magical ball which has drawn the love of billions of fans in the length and breadth of the world and has motivated huge numbers of young people to aspire for distinction in playing with it according to universally-regulated rules and for ascending to global stardom.
And in its twin capacity as a sport and an industry, football has magnificently asserted itself as an area of innovativeness, performance improvement and regulation refinement. In the process, governments and societies of the world recognised how this sporting activity has an intrinsic capacity to disseminate such lofty human and social values as selflessness, co-operation, acting in team spirit and seeking distinction only through dedicated effort, fair play, sustained training and skill refinement. So, it has clearly been on the basis of such recognition that governments of the world have sought to extend as much material and moral support as they can to encourage the spread of this beautiful sport, building stadiums and playgrounds, recruiting coaches and trainers and sponsoring national teams in regional and international competitions.
As the German astronaut enjoyed the live streaming into space, the scene on the Earth was no less fantastic. Thirty two teams were there in Russia, contending for the World Cup Russia 2018, with President Vladimir Putin himself attending the opening game together with a host of world leaders and FIFA chief. Highlights of the matches played so far may be noticeably thrilling but are indeed indicative of the very nature of sports in general and football in particular. Though led by brilliant forward Lionel Messi, Argentina was overpowered by Iceland and Messi himself missed a penalty, the 2014 Cup holder Germany failed to win in the confrontation with Mexico, a Moroccan player who came on in the stoppage-time erroneously headed a ball into his own team’s net in added time, solely causing Morocco to lose out to Iran and the Brazil vs. Switzerland match ended in a 1-1 draw though the former is a team of eminent professionals playing with world-brand clubs.
As far as the Pharaohs are concerned, they, with the magnificent and strong show they delivered in their Group A opener with Uruguay, have justly won broad local and international acknowledgement as a team of serious players, steel defenders and skilled forward liners. Their chances of winning the match or at least scoring a point had remained high until the 89th minute Uruguayan surprise header scoring. They will be facing Russia today and whatever the result of the match will be, the Pharaohs will have established their credentials as a world-brand team which deservedly qualified for the World Cup Russia 2018 – all the more so with the Pharaohs grouping a number of internationally-renowned professional footballers, especially including Liverpool striker Mo Salah, Arsenal’s midfielder Mohamed Ninni, Huddersfield Town winger Ramdan Sobhi and Greek club PAOK midfielder Amr Wardah. It’s a real and momentous win.