Commentary: World Cup soccer unites the planet

The Sacramento BeeMay 28, 2010 

Most Germans prefer watching their World Cup soccer team to having sex.

Honest.

Reader's Digest did a survey. The results were reported Thursday by AFP, an international news service.

Also Thursday, the South Wales Argus reported that Welsh police are girding for spikes in domestic violence between June 11 and July 11 — when a global audience will be riveted by the World Cup.

Last December, the New York Times ran a story with the headline: "A Nation's Shaken Ego Seen in a Soccer Loss." It told of a national malaise in Egypt after its team failed to qualify for the World Cup, which starts in two weeks in South Africa. Some Egyptians compared the indignity to the 1967 military rout of Arab armies by Israel.

And if past World Cups are any indication, somebody will commit suicide when his team is eliminated next month.

It happens every four years. Some Americans wonder why, but it's very simple: With soccer, the most desperate kids from Sudan share the same passion as affluent kids in the United States.

Every nation plays by the same rules but with its own style, character and flaws.

In Brazil, soccer is a rhythm from the streets. The Germans are known for steely determination — no matter what that sex survey says. Only in soccer is the United States a developing nation.

Contrary to naysayers, ESPN is investing millions in the event. Have you seen the Nike World Cup ad? Check it out here.

It's one of the best commercials ever made. It glorifies the icons of soccer — Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast, Fabio Cannavaro of Italy, Wayne Rooney of England, Franck Ribéry of France, Landon Donovan of the United States, Cesc Fabregas of Spain and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal.

Ronaldinho, the Brazilian star who plays a huge role, didn't even make his national team. The best player in the world, Lionel Messi of Argentina, didn't appear in the ad, but he's expected to sparkle once the games begin.

To read the complete column, visit www.sacbee.com.

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