Faith and Football at the 2018 World Cup

Posted by Stuart Wilson  ·  Be the first to comment

Christian Footballers, World Cup, Russia 2018

Since the inaugural World Cup in 1930 it has been won by just 8 different nations

  • Uruguay (1930, 1950)

  • Italy (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)

  • Germany (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)

  • Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)

  • England (1966)

  • Argentina (1978, 1986)

  • France (1998)

  • Spain (2010)

Each of these countries has a predominantly Christian population. In fact, in this year’s competition 24 of the 32 participating teams represent predominantly Christian nations – so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that many teams at this year’s tournament have members who profess their faith in Jesus without needing to be encouraged. Many players will thank Him for every goal and victory when speaking to audiences of hundreds of millions.

Throughout the rich tapestry of the history of the World Cup there are threads that link to Christianity.

The Argentine team of 1986 broke a promise by not returning to a shrine in Tilcara to thank the virgin for delivering them the World Cup for which they had prayed to her. Since then they have not won a world cup despite competing in two finals and having many of the world’s best players.

One of the best players around in the early 2000s, Kaka, wore a T Shirt under his football kit, on which the words ‘I Belong To Jesus’ were printed. He removed his Brazil shirt to unveil this when conducting interviews immediately after winning the World Cup final with Brazil in 2002 – not sure the team shirt sponsors would have been best pleased.

The founder of the world cup Jules Rimet was himself a devout Catholic who believed that international sport could improve relationships between nations. He obviously never met Diego Maradona or Luis Suarez who many would say damaged relationships between Argentina and England and Uruguay and Ghana respectively.

The football world cup has been running for 88 years and 79 different teams have competed from Australia to Zaire. Countries from North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australasia. Countries that no longer exist such as USSR, Yugoslavia and East & West Germany. From Iceland to China nations of all sizes compete – the attention of the world will be united on Russia for the next four weeks

Even the Church of England got involved with the last world cup by releasing a collection of prayers:

Toward the Goal - Kakas Story

One for those not interested in proceedings:

“Lord, as all around are gripped with World Cup fever, bless us with understanding, strengthen us with patience and grant us the gift of sympathy if needed. Amen”

And a short prayer for the England team themselves:

“Oh God…”

Whether you have freed up the time to watch three matches a day or are planning to ensure you will be anywhere but in front of a television … make sure you and those around you enjoy the greatest tournament on earth.

14th June

June 14th, 2018 - Posted & Written by Stuart Wilson

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