June 14 was not just an ordinary Thursday. For over 32 nations and millions of people worldwide, that was the beginning of their own Hunger Games: the 21st FIFA World Cup. I, too, was in ecstasy to see young men fight in a battle for athletic superiority and the chance for their nation's flag to be held high so everyone could see. However, as the matches progressed and the brackets tightened, the only positive aspect of the tournament was the hilarious, witty Volkswagen and Bud Light commercials.
Every 4 years, FIFA, the International Federation for Football, host the World Cup tournament in a different nation based on a bid. The most recent tournament in 2014 was hosted in Brazil, and Germany was crowned the champion after a very slight defeat against the Argentinians led by Lionel Messi.
This year, Russia got the winning bid to host the World Cup in stadiums throughout the western part of the country. Some of the stadiums were located in cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Kaliningrad and Saransk to name a few. As the host, Russia received the opportunity to play in the cup and fared out really well in the competition.
Coverage by FOX News and ESPN gave me the opportunity to relish an athletic marvel from the comfort of home. As the days went by so did my hopes for the expected countries to reign supreme. Early on in the tournament, Lionel Messi's leadership made his team crumble apart right away in the Round of 16 against Paul Pogba and the French. Likewise, Cristiano Ronaldo's predictable angles for shooting goals left the Portuguese surprisingly devastated in the Round of 16 as well against Suarez's uncanny victory for Uruguay.
As the tournament progressed, the stakes got higher and the geographic strength of narrowed. By the Quarterfinals, the goal-shooting prowess eliminated Latin America, with Brazil being the last to go, such that the tournament became an exclusively European club. The quarterfinals ignited the shots that shocked the world because, for the first time in FIFA history, neither Brazil nor Argentina qualified for the semi-finals.
In the European circuit, Belgium, Russia, and Croatia showed all of their might against unfamiliar faces throughout the month. Belgium was undefeated throughout the tournament until losing in the semifinals to France; Russia shined rather bright until their head was slain by the Croatians for a seat in the finals against France.
As July 15 slowly approached, every channel on my television only discussed who will become the world champion in what initially was a trivial sports match. Stations such as FOX and NBC pitted the teams against each other by broadcasting Paul Pogba's nightly video diaries and interviews with the Croatian captains to hear their take on what became the match of the century. Personally, I have not witnessed a sports match close to this, which includes disappointments in Wimbledon this year or the past few Super Bowls. Ultimately when the match came, the scores initially seemed neck-and-neck as Croatia put more sweat and tears than anyone could imagine. In the end, France sealed the victory after 58 years. I hope that the 2022 World Cup is filled with more action and less disappointment, but we will see.