A pedra fundamental de um Mundial de Futebol realizado como evento independente, à parte da Olimpíada, foi esboçada já na fundação da FIFA, em 1904, mas lançada efetivamente após a Primeira Grande Guerra, sendo que a definição do primeiro país-sede (Uruguai) ocorreria em 1929, no Congresso da Fifa realizado em Barcelona, ainda em um ambiente de intensa agitação geopolítica. Ali foi definido que o Mundial seria disputado a cada quatro anos, alternando com diferença de dois anos com os Jogos Olímpicos. Teria sedes a princípio com alternância de continentes – entre Europa e América do Sul – e seria aberto a todas as nações filiadas em um processo de competição eliminatória, cujos vencedores fariam a fase final.No Brasil de 2014, a Copa do Mundo chega a sua 20ª edição com números estratosféricos de popularidade e de mercado. O futebol atinge hoje mais de 4 bilhões de pessoas, mais de 60% da população mundial, cerca de 500 milhões de trabalhadores tiram seu sustento da prática e comercialização da modalidade. Bilionários contratos publicitários e de transmissão por todas as mídias sustentam o culto aos ídolos. E a reunião da nata dos profissionais em um torneio dessa magnitude – que congrega todos os grandes nomes em uma maratona de jogos por 30 dias – proporciona a mais grandiosa demonstração de pujança esportiva do que o homem é capaz.
The landmark of a World football championship as an independent event, aside from the Olympic Games, was firstly thought of at FIFA’s very foundation, in 1904, but effectively launched after the First World War, being the first Host country (Uruguay) defined in 1929, during FIFA’s congress, which was held in Barcelona, being the atmosphere of yet intense geopolitical unrest. At that meeting, it was decided that the championship should be held every four years, alternating with the Olympic Games, although with a two year difference between the two events. Initially the hosting locations would be alternated among the participating continents – Europe and South America – in which all the affiliated nations could take part, in a process of eliminatory competitions, being the final phase played by the winners of the eliminatory phase.In 2014’s Brazil, the World Cup has come to its twentieth edition, having its popularity and market rates reached stratospheric heights. Today, football has reached out to over four billion people, more that 60% of the world’s population, comprehending about 500 million jobs related to the practice and the commercialization of this sport. Billion dollar publicity and broadcasting contracts from all kinds of media are behind the worshiping of the football idols. The meeting of the cream-of-the-crop players in this most magnanimous event – which gathers all the great stars in a marathon of games that lasts thirty days – provides us with an event of the uppermost expression of sports related vigor which mankind is capable of.
in transformation. Under the eye of such simple and at the same time magnetic game, passionate, tragic, sublime and dramatic moments have been registered. Like a faithful portrait of the people who adopted it, soccer witnesses both social barbarities and episodes of collective joy; it has suffered threats and been unfair; it has distributed pleasures and ecstasies with the same agility it has produced traumas and minor suffering, but it has always been there.
It is not by chance that this original and skilful form of group competition which highlights individualities is the only human activity known to be followed every day of the week, anytime and anywhere by nothing less than four billion people. There are neither geographical frontiers nor social barriers for those who appreciate the game. The spectacle of soccer may be expensive and unaffordable, the guts of the sport may be obscure, like so many activities of the contemporary jungle, and the control mechanisms are not always based on common sense and honesty. However, in this regard, enjoying it is for free. There shall never be exclusion for those who want to practice it, adhere to it, admire it and suffer with it. Yes, because soccer is also a land of uncertainties and afflictions – attractive, renewing and energetic ones, but afflictions nevertheless.
In 150 years, the sport that was born in the heart of England’s Industrial Revolution has
undergone through countless periods of transformation and adjustments to several cultures. It has been molded in accordance to the idiosyncrasies of the societies that have incorporated it, embraced local costumes in a long maturation process and, just when it seemed consolidated, it discovered the market laws and plunged into a new revolutionary adventure, based on technology, on the speed of information and on globalization. Even so, it has never lost its human essences because, in this game, as the writer Eduardo Galeano lucidly and wisely states “from where we least expect comes the impossible, the dwarf teaches the giant a lesson and the puny, bowlegged black boy makes a fool out of an athlete sculpted in Greece”.