The 2018 FIFA World Cup has reached its conclusion now, with France as the champions. The final was filled with goals and provided a spectacular end to the tournament. For all the English fans it probably feels bittersweet. Yes, we had a successful tournament, reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 1990, but the fans who thought it was ‘coming home’ definitely feel a bit low now.
It’s not at all a moment to be sad, however, because there are tons of positive effects that have stemmed from this World Cup. Firstly, let us appreciate the atmosphere and mood across the nation whilst we were still involved. The unity amongst the fans was incredible and it was a great moment for British sport. Hopefully it promotes similar vibes in upcoming competitions, tournaments, matches etc. It was a positive change to see the nation finally getting behind our players rather than scrutinising them (although the media still lack in this department).
There were moments of recklessness. After a solid win against Sweden a number of English fans decided to trash an Ikea store, clearly a wise decision and not at all disrespectful. In all seriousness, things like that are what potentially risked ruining what has been a really inspiring few weeks of sport. Luckily for the majority of us things were calm and good sportsmanship all around was to be expected.
We also have to think back a few months and remember how anxious the world was about this World Cup. During the build up there were tense feelings brewing; people were unsure what a tournament in Russia would be like, with worries of violence and politics getting involved. The result though has truly brought positivity to the country, so fair play to the hosts for putting on a wonderful sporting event and also for opening their country to tourism.
Despite all of these things, back home the dialogue returns to England losing in the semi-finals, a heart wrenching moment for many. I disagree with this kind of message, because win or lose the players really impressed and have managed to bring everyone together. If you were at a local pub, bar or even a friends house, everyone was watching the action, whether they understood the offside rule or not. It was a great sight and just because we lost we shouldn’t forget the special moments that occurred during the past month. Also, putting things into perspective, reaching the semi-final puts us in the top 4 teams of the tournament and nobody could have predicted that before the World Cup began.
I think that regardless of the outcome from a sporting point of view, the 2018 FIFA World Cup has been a truly global success. Although celebrations in France resulted in some unfortunate events, as a whole, the tournament was amazing and hopefully inspired people from all backgrounds to get behind sport.
There is finally some pride in our national team and we have been thoroughly entertained for the last few weeks. Who can honestly complain?