FIFA World Cup 2018 and Pakistan’s Sorry Tale

by Sajawal Rehman on June 20, 2018 | Images Source Social Media


Football is the most popular sport in the world so naturally, the FIFA world cup is the most famous sporting event but it is so much more than that. The media, social, and cultural aspects of the World Cup make it a unique event which brings people together like no other global event, not even the Olympics. Football as a sport is so familiar and simple that even the people who don’t usually watch it, can get engrossed and thoroughly entertain themselves. It is more than a sport, it is a culture for some countries.

When a team qualifies for the finals, everyone in the country put their differences aside, sing along and raise their flag with pride. The dignity and hope for glory they carry to the finals to represent their culture and the audience will get specks of insights about them as a nation. The World Cup truly helps in bridging differences between different countries, spreading positivity and creating a sense of unity.

What a great day for football, all we need is some green grass and a ball.”

Bill Shankly 

The Qualifications

Uruguay was the first ever host to hold World Cup in 1930. Every four years, this grand spectacle takes place in a different country or a region and it is a great honour to host the World Cup. The Host nation organizes shows and composes songs unique to them. The finalists are 32 teams out of a total 211.

The qualification process basically consists of tournaments for teams slotted within six FIFA continental zones. FIFA decides how many teams from a single continent would be going to finals based on their confederations strength in numbers. The FIFA continental zones are ASIA, Europe, South America, Oceania, Africa and North and Central America and Caribbean. The Continents also have their own championship competition, for example, Europe has Euro Championships, Americas had Copa America, AFC Asian Cup for Asia and Africa Cup of nations is For Africa.

Pakistan’s Tale and FIFA World Cup

Pakistan, currently ranked 201th in FIFA ranking, has never appeared in the FIFA World Cup. The population of 200 million looks forward to the day when their country will stand amongst others in a foreign land and represent their culture to the whole world. The people, despite being crestfallen at their unfortunate condition of football in the country, nonetheless flare up to thoroughly enjoy the World Cup.

They get some sprinkle of happiness from discreet representation through their Footballs which are famous worldwide for their unmatched quality. Pakistan has been supplying footballs for almost all the World Cups from the 1990s to now. Pakistan annually earns $350m to $500m from football exports. Sialkot is the World’s largest producer of hand-sewed footballs. The city manufactures 40-60 million footballs a year. This year Official Football ‘Telstar’ for the FIFA World Cup in Russia was also produced in Sialkot with special thermal bonding technology.

What is the Future?

There are no shortcomings in terms of local talent in Pakistan. The future talent is already paving their own way as Pakistan’s Street Child Football World Cup came as runner-ups this year at the tournament in Russia after losing to Uzbekistan. There no questions about talent but where we come short is the problem of infrastructure. There is an adequate platform for youths looking to make for National Cricket Team and there Pakistanis shine time and again.

This is a sad case for sports in general other cricket in this country. A country has to have proper channels and foundations from which talent would go through proper training in order to represent the country at a global stage. Unfortunately, until this setup is established there is no hope for our country to be one of the 32 finalists.

In summer of 2017, a big move forward for Pakistan took place in terms of football as we welcomed some big stars for the promotion of the beautiful game.

The internationally famous players who landed were Ronaldinho, Ryan Giggs, David James, Robert Pires and France’s Nicolas Anelka and a few others. They all praised the immense talent they witnessed. They also expressed full confidence that if they were provided infrastructure and coaching, the country will make big strides and quickly improve in ranking.

How to get there?

The question remains how to approach with the advancement of football in the country. Sports events and activities can promote a nation’s unity. The first step is the grass root level of schools and clubs. Schools have to be equipped with grounds and personnel which can help youngsters to get involved with the game early on. As they grow older, there should be divisional and provincial championships which should reward financial and scholarships rewards to teams who reach the tournaments.

This way the infrastructure sets up to then advance to the national stage where top-level academies should be established. Adequate funding, proper facilities and training staff can work well enough. The training personnel should consist of coaches for every position, nutritionists, mental care and physical trainers. After sufficient grooming and hard work, the football in the nation can finally gain a firm standing with a similar tournament like Pakistan Super League. There is hope, that with quick progression and determination we too can someday enthusiastically cheer for our nation and sing our national anthem at the biggest world stage.

What Can Football do for Pakistan?

The Football gives us a vivid perception of the country’s society and culture if we catch glimpses of their fans and pay attention to how they play football. Through social media, we can readily connect with the nation as a whole and can view the whole thing from their perspective. With style of celebrations, the makeover for the games that the fans don and their cheer and chants all tell the world who they are. There is no greater expression for a nation as a whole than the one we witness at the World Cup.

Pakistan is mostly perceived by other nations through media’s biased eyes who reduce our country to nothing but a lawless and harsh land. But we, as its residents no it is not the case, not even close to the truth, and we have to showcase it positively to the World. We as a nation are diverse but we stand united and have to lighthearted and generous nature. Through Football we can show our colourful culture and rich music and help our nation gain a respectable standing. Our youth is ready to strive for the progress of our glorious homeland.

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Sajawal Rehman


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