As the referee blew the final whistle, the French soccer fan next to me screamed “Allez les Bleus” while the Croatian fan in red let out a silent tear. In a matter of minutes, the two shook hands and walked out of the stadium, merging in with the other 79,000 soccer supporters. Despite the built-up tension at the stadium, both the victors and those defeated were united in their appreciation for the game.
Winning the championship title for the second time in the country history, the French team fought their way towards the biggest prize in international soccer. Bringing home the 18-carat gold trophy along with the world title, the French team defeated the Croatian team with an honorary score of 4:2.
Even though only 32 countries participated in the 2018 World Cup, hundreds of millions of soccer fans around the world tuned in to enjoy the world’s biggest soccer tournament. Striving to make the games as inclusive as possible by eliminating political, racial and other concerns, the love for the game prevailed and united the people in their appreciation for the sport.
Despite criticisms and concerns regarding the location of the tournament — Russia — it was the first world soccer championship to be held in Eastern Europe. Hosting the games in eleven different cities across Russia, the country welcomed over three million tourists over the course of the event. With each stadium filled to its maximum capacity and every game more exciting than the previous, the final match became the highest-scoring final since 1966.
As the tension on and off the field rose with every passing minute, the score continued to grow as well. The closeness of the score kept the players and the fans on their toes until the final seconds of the match and neither the rain nor the Pitch Invaders were able to disrupt the intensity. Battling the time, pain and exhaustion, all players continued to display resilience and strength, unwilling to accept defeat. However, even when defeat was inevitable, the Croatian team remained dignified and respectful of their opponents. With Croatia making it to the World Cup finals for the first time in the World Cup history, it is without a doubt that today, both teams left the field victorious.
As presidents of Russia and Croatia lined up side by side for the award ceremony, the players uncontrollably let out tears of joy or sorrow on the sidelines. The 79,000 fans stood on the bleachers out of respect, watching the heavy rain wash down the tears off the players’ cheeks. Listening to the triumphant music prevail in the distance and seeing the face of the young boy standing next to me, I realized that game was an inspiration for all the viewers despite the team they support. Both teams showed extreme resilience and determination, fighting until the final whistle marked the end of the game, uniting billions of sports fans around the world.
The 2018 World Cup was an emotional rollercoaster filled with hopes, doubts, and surprises. Today, however, one thing is certain — the “les Bleus” prepare to celebrate their victory as all others look toward future opportunities. Specifically, the 2022 games in Qatar.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.