Justin Lalputan, Broadside Correspondent

There are only two sporting events in the world that cause nearly every single country to stop what they are doing to watch, and both occur every four years. One is the Olympics, which occurs during the winter and summer.

The other is the FIFA World Cup. Many people, especially Americans, dismiss it as a simple soccer game, but it is far from that.

The World Cup is a large-scale soccer tournament that can have effects that many world leaders wish they could conjure.

When the World Cup was held in France in 1998, a French family noted the incredible change that they witnessed by saying, “The team is so different, but they are all fighting for France, and that reminds us to look at what bonds us together.” This sentiment is exactly what I am talking about.
When soccer teams play for their countries, they are not playing for just one city or one area, they are playing for everyone, and that unites the entire country.

The country that is hosting the World Cup this year is South Africa.
It is safe to say that even though the finals have not started, the citizens are overflowing with pride for their country.

A survey given by FIFA said that “88 percent of respondents state that they are proud that South Africa is hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”

The World Cup can even serve as a distraction for a country that may be going through tough times.

When Argentina hosted the World Cup in 1978, during social turmoil and political kidnappings, one man recalls seeing a neighbor run out into the street to celebrate a goal, completely forgetting that he was not wearing underwear, all in the name of soccer.

Some argue that the World Cup brings more negative effects than it does positive ones.

When a country hosts a World Cup, the traffic is usually increased to unbearable levels and violence has been known to break out over a game ruling.

In Honduras, during the 1969 qualifier for the 1970 World Cup, tensions grew so high between Honduras and El Salvador that they escalated into a full-fledged war between the two nations.

Some say that when construction takes place in countries as they prepare for the World Cup, it can have an extremely negative impact on the environment.

All of these are extreme circumstances. First, the “soccer war” that arose from tensions between Honduras and El Salvador was quickly quelled and both countries have since admitted to the hastiness of their actions.

Also, it is true that the traffic is increased in cities during the FIFA World Cup, but due to this traffic increase, the host country can also see a gigantic benefit in terms of their economy.

Ninety-One percent of the South African hosts predict that they will see an increase in tourism, which leads to more money and a better economy for the host country.

The World Cup can also lead to an increase in jobs. This can be especially beneficial for regions where jobs are scarce, like South Africa where their unemployment rate was 22.9 percent in 2008. Although the environmental impacts are noticeable, the economic benefits are worth it.

The World Cup is not simply a soccer tournament. It is a chance for the people of the world to come together, forget their problems and see which country has what it takes to be the best.

What amazes me the most about the tournament is not the fancy footwork that I see some players pull off, or the goals that are scored. It is the fans.
These are people that come from all different walks of life and manage to put aside their differences to enjoy what they love.

If we could replicate the effects of the World Cup when it is not happening, it would not solve all the world’s problems, but we would definitely be closer than we are now.

After all, when you really think about it, we may be on different teams, but we’re all shooting for the same goal of peace.