Where Are The World Cup Sportsmanship Heroes?

As hundreds of millions of us sit down to a feast of football, who will stand out as a real champion of football? Who will light up the World Cup with a smile (remember Pele’s smile) instead of a raging roar of aggression? Or maybe a dance (Peter Crouch’s Robot Dance or the 42 year old Cameroonian Roger Milla’s samba with the corner flag)? Or perhaps the unbridled joy of youth will let Nigeria’s 19 year old revelation, Haruna Lukman, simply celebrate the fun, excitement and joy of playing in the world’s best competition?

Who remembers Bobby Moore and Pele swapping shirts and embracing each other after their epic battle in the opening rounds in the 1970 World Cup (see front cover of my book)? *

Or France 1998 when USA played Iran (despite having cut off diplomatic relations) – the players exchanged gifts, helped each other up off the ground and secretly arranged to play a 3 game friendly series without either government knowing.*

Or the magical moment in Germany 2006 just before kick off when the Iranian goalkeeper gave a bouquet of flowers to, the still grieving, Mexican goalkeeper, Sanchez, who had just flown back from Guadalajara after burying his father.*

Will players be allowed to swap shirts? Who will demonstrate sportsmanship? So that kids everywhere see how cool sportsmanship can be when opposing players do battle and embrace afterwards? Why do players play? Because they love it. Let’s see who will show their unbridled joy?  Who will fully embrace the magic of the brotherhood of football? Send me your stories, observations and thoughts as it all unfolds and I’ll publish them here.

Quiz Question: Who is England’s best ever goal scorer (goals to games ratio)? Very few English fans know it. Post your answer. I’ll also give full answer in my next post.

Footnote * indicates the full two minute story is in the Great Moments Of Sportsmanship book.

16 thoughts on “Where Are The World Cup Sportsmanship Heroes?

  1. Great article Paul. Wonderful examples of the world cup which conjure up this fantastic tournament. Just reading it really excites me and I for one can’t wait for it to take place. It’s magnificent to see the best players in the world compete against each other and the passion and commitment it brings. Furthermore it’s great to watch an event where history is made and that millions of people from all around the world can partake.

  2. Sports maybe the most globalized industry in the world and many things have changed in the past 50 years with regards sponsorship, major endorsements to even scocer club tv station but the beautiful game itself has not changed. The world cup will bring benefit to many countries not only joy but also much needed revenue. The team i believe will show some class and charisma is Argentia , Maradonna Men have something to prove and we may see the the great manager himself shine through in many of his players, Player like Messi are and Tevez are goal scoring machines and thier form is likely to continue,

  3. The World Cup transcends sport and takes us to another level of humanity, celebration and a coming together of mankind!

  4. Pozz – you are 100% correct. As football clubs fail (30 in the UK in last 10 years) – largely because I believe they don’t know what they are selling (I ask managers why fans buy football and they don’t seem to know). I went to Harvard and asked the greatest marketing man alive (in 1994), Prof Ted Levitt and asked why fans go to footy and he answered ‘it’s a transcendental thing…’ .

  5. I hope you are wrong David. The proof is in the World Cup. Let’s see what happens and see if anyone spots any sportsmanship moments.

  6. Having Diego Maradona talk about his hope for fair play at this World Cup is like Hanibal Lecter talk about proper table etiquitte while eating meat.

  7. Steve – Maradonna was bitten mildly by a dog (I think it might have been his dog) just before the World Cup and the papers over here (London) referred to it as the Hound Of God.

    His original hand of God was disgraceful no doubt, but he is entertaining as a manager – today, when asked if he feared anything, his response was ‘nothing except a man with a bala-clava’

  8. Hello, Thanks for placing such an intriguing internet site on the web. I reckon you hav put some realy great material on there and I discovered it to be one of the most useful I have found. I hope you manage to keep it updated because I will be returning again to have a another read.

  9. Here – see home page – big banner on the right hand side – ‘Buy The Book’. I hope this helps. Enjoy the read and keep up with additional stories, here on the blog. Best wishes Paul

  10. Hey man, great site and loved the book. is the a vid of the pre-match of Mexico-Iran? a very touching moment between two people, but between a Muslim a Catholic makes it very special. It shows sport can bring people together

  11. Truly excellent point Shane. Hadn’t thought of it this way. The world needs to know about these things. I watched a programme last night on the History Channel re world religions and it showed how the Koran preaches mercy and forgiveness aswell as respect for other religions. I too remember being taught by a Catholic priest about the world’s religions as being ‘very beautiful’. And here we have it – in that moment of total respect between Muslim and Catholic amidst a World Cup. If you find any video clips – please do let me know. Thanks for spotting it. Paul

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