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Over three billion people are currently following the World Cup 2014 | Coastweek

Over three billion people are currently following the World Cup 2014, reports Swami Anand Kul Bhushan. And by the time the final is played on 13 July, more than half the entire population on the globe will be watching to see who wins. Why is this tournament so mind boggling and all consuming? Because it is the most popular sport on this earth. COLLAGE - KUL BHUSHAN

New religion: Why soccer is so mind boggling and all consuming

NEW DELHI -- Like religion football binds and divides people. Like religion it has it gods and demi-gods, its worshippers, rituals, devotion and blind faith reports Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.

After kicking off on 12 June, the biggest sports show on the globe, FIFA World Cup 2014, is in full swing.

Over three billion people are following the World Cup now.

And by the time the final is played on 13 July, more than half the entire population on the globe will be watching to see who wins the World Cup.

Why is this tournament so mind boggling and all consuming?

Because it is the most popular sport on this earth.

Yes, Indians are obsessed with cricket but it is played by hardly 15 major nations while football is more important than any sport in most of the 192 countries of the world.

The fans are fanatic about the teams they support and the players they worship.

Football has become the new religion.

Think about it!

The word ‘religion’ comes from the Latin word ‘religare’ which means to bind.

Football binds millions with each other and for a common aim in support of their favourite team and their country.

Like religion, football also divides people even to violence.

Watch the football hooligans after their team has won or lost a match.

Like religion, football has an intricate set of rules and rituals.

Like religion, it brings the faithful together regularly in blind faith in regular worship in stadia.

The stadia are the new churches.

The fans are the worshippers congregating in tens of thousands.

Dressed in team colours, the fans come with painted faces with words and crosses, carrying flags and banners.

They shout and scream with great faith and fever.

The players are gods and demi-gods.

The service starts with the whistle for the match.

The fans go on pilgrimage to overseas countries across the globe to worship the football gods.

The players say ardent prayers before entering the field invoke God for a goal and kneel down to thank God on scoring a goal and winning the match.

Just like the churchgoers.

Parallels are made between religious faith and the faith of the football fans.

And their gods are the top players starting with the legendary Pele, followed by Diego Maradona, Franz Beckenbaur, Johan Cruyff, David Beckham, Garrincha, and Zinedine Zidane among others in the pantheon.

Who could deny that football has crossed the line into the territory of religion when in Argentina, you can visit the "Church of Maradona", and worship with devoted followers of the living "God", Diego Maradona.

This reflects his ‘hand of God’ goal, no doubt!

What happens when you watch a World Cup match?

You are concentrating on the game until the final whistle.

Like the Buddhist saying, ‘Many in body, one in mind’ you are totally focused on every move by every player.
.

Your mind becomes thoughtless - as in thoughtless awareness - except for the flow of the play.

Is football the new religion?

Is watching a World Cup match close to meditation?

Is watching sports the same as a spiritual experience of bliss?

Is football the new religion? Of course!

 

Former Kenya journalist, editor, author, publisher and a media consultant, Kul Bhushan has worked at senior levels in different countries and continents for over 40 years with international and multi-national organizations.

 

Former Kenya journalist, editor, author, publisher and a media consultant Kul Bhushan | Coastweek

 


 

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