In a world where we use color to identify and represent ourselves, a world where colors describe our emotions and used to create paintings of our dreams. We also live in a world where a simple round object has more value than the bible; where alliances are born and betrayal can be found in a bandwagon. The majority of people are not worried about how beautiful the colors of their flags are but that they raise the shiny cup at the end of the month, long series of matches.
Growing up being the only girl surrounded by soccer fanatics, yes, fanatics not fans. (If you don’t know the difference, I’m sure there’s a world cup record somewhere of how many heart attacks there have been, and trust me – those are the fanatics). I grew up hearing of the great Sport Legends, from the likes of Jerry West, Babe Ruth, John McEnroe, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Pele, Maradona, “Magico” Gonzalez, Marco van Basten, Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthaus, Franco Baresi, and Roberto Baggio. Of course there’s more than I can hardly recall, but these are some of the names that my brother and I grew up with. Every world cup that I’ve watched with my father, (mind you, my dad has watched 14 world cups in his time), he literally would sit my brother and I in front of the TV and talk about all the great players, their stats and how their team depended on them in critical times. Sometimes, it’s a bit overwhelming, because how can you argue with a man who holds so much history about something simple like soccer? But, it was never about flags, it has always been about the art of the game, well, at least at my home it has.
I remember specifically asking my dad why he rooted for mostly Euro teams and not Latin American teams, and the answer has always been, “just because I’m latino doesn’t mean I’ll root for other Latin American countries; this is about the game and who plays it best, history has shown us who the great teams have been”. In those same moments of discussing players and the ‘game’, my mother would always ignore us, calling us ‘locos’ and ‘fanaticos’. Mom has never been a fan of sports, but every 4 years, she joins in on the World Cup craze. When we ask her who she roots for, she always replies, “Que gane el mejor” (let the best win). The first world cup jerseys my dad gifted my brother and I, were Italian jerseys. They were beautiful, all crispy white, with 3 stars above the Italian flag. I recall so vividly that many friends and family criticized dad for not getting us a Latin American jersey like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico or Colombia… because of course, as Latinos we are supposed to root for our kind and never any other continent.
Many till this day, criticize my dad for still rooting for the likes of Nederland, Italy, Germany and England. At home, now that my niece understands and sees how passionate we are about sports; it’s become very interesting. Specially, because for this world cup she’s voiced her opinion of how she prefers to root for Latin countries; of course her heart broke when Mexico lost to Nederland, in which my father, brother and I were rooting for. She was upset and didn’t understand why we didn’t back Mexico. We simply responded to my kind half Mexican-Salvie little one, that we prefer the European competitiveness, strategy, determination and discipline. That’s not to say that no other country has the ability or talent that it takes to raise the cup, I mean, look at Brazil for example.
As I’ve expressed my opinion on social media who I was rooting for in this Cup. I’ve had several friends go on a rant about how I’m being a traitor, and that I may be upset cause my little country El Salvador didn’t make it and that I was simply hating on others; or even asked me “why would I root for a Euro country?”. It’s simple: I want to see a great final and not a lob-sided win. But on top of it all, I don’t root for countries, I’m rooting for a “T E A M”, so it doesn’t matter to me if I live in the US of A, which to some I should root for a country that gives me my ‘freedom’, but then again maybe we should interview those Central American children and ask them, how we’re doing as hosts to their refugee status. If, we are going to base our bandwagon support because of the color on our skin, culture and because maybe we use more ‘chile’ (spices) than other countries, that’s comedy. Tell me when was the last time, your country didn’t take away your rights, killed your heroes and raped your innocence? Because, if we are going to root for countries, let it be known that all of our flags have been dipped in blood. From the US in the civil rights movement, to Germany and having Hitler disintegrate millions, to Argentina’s “Dirty War” disappearance of thousands that are still being discovered, to Mexico’s hundreds massacred before the 1968 Summer Olympics, to Brazil’s drug war killings to host the World Cup 2014, to my country’s famous “La Matanza” and 12 year Civil War and still lack of empowerment to a country infested with gangs. As I sit and write, my heart breaks, because every 4 years we are excited and proud to show off our colors to our community and world of where we come from, but sometimes we forget of what little our country has done for us or how much its cut deep in our soul with pain.
The Cup, shouldn’t be about competition of our countries, because let’s face it, if we had a Galaxy Cup, we would have to invite other Planets to compete in this cup and I think base on Star Wars, Star Trek and all those other fancy shows that talk about how the human race lacks the imagination to survive, we would be doomed. If that were to happen, then I propose we create our own Human Race flag; instead of all kinds of colors, maybe just a plain white flag and a happy face in the middle. I believe at that point, we wouldn’t care where we came from, we would unite and play against any other planet in hopes of a victory. But, here’s something to ponder on, if we were to compare the World Cup to the “Hunger Games”, would we sell our soul to make our “district” more appealing to our surroundings? I think not. In the Cup, I want to believe that we wear jerseys to represent the 11 players that are fully determined to play their last bout on the grass; no questions asked, they will play for the love of the game and that damn round apparatus that takes them back to being 8 years old and kicking in the middle of the street. Colors of our flags, do not represent history, they are a book mark in our history that is a constant reminder of what our history was like. Colors have always been a freedom of speech, never limited, never questioned by Rembrandt, Frida, Caravaggio, Van Gogh or even Dali. Color is life and Life is Color.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where we come from, nor what flag you’ll be holding at the end of the night but that you are simply there to enjoy a great bout between 22 players who have worked hard, left families and are giving you, your Vegas stipend. Instead of worrying why our friends do not support our country in the world cup, think about how you may sound like a racist when you say, “I don’t want a Euro country to win” or my favorite line so far on Univision, “hay que apoyar a uno de los nuestros”. Really? Last time I checked, we are all humans and soccer is just a game filled with passion and talent. The reward: a shiny golden ticket to hold the cup.
As I come down to the end, all I can think about today’s final is “que gane el mejor!” Instead of worrying who will be raising the golden cup at the end, think about how we can be better people and more respectful for the next tournament in 4 years. Think about if we could only be like children, who see no color, we would live in a happier place, “Unity” is such a key word to surviving here and we only think of helping our neighbor when a tornado or earthquake happens; well a tornado of ignorant words can kill too. Like Rocky in his speech against Drago and the Russians after his victory, “if I can change, you can change!”.
Till next time,
- – Cyn