Football is more than just the beautiful game. For many, it’s practically a religion. The Church of England even produced a prayer guide for the World Cup, though sadly it didn’t help at all.
Nothing brings the masses to their knees with eyes cast to heaven like the football World Cup. There are 130 million Roman Catholics in Brazil alone, and I’m pretty confident every single one of them had a prayer pass their lips at some point during the competition. In fact, God would no doubt have been swamped during the host nation’s draw with Mexico.
In TIME magazine recently, Imam Sohaib Sultan described how the game, to him, is deeply spiritual. As he says:
“When Roberto Baggio neatly played off of his teammates to dodge through the entire Czechoslovakia defense and score his first goal of the tournament, it was a divine experience that, as a young boy, opened my senses to believe in transcendence.”
Transcendence. We all aspire to greatness in some form. To achieve the impossible. To rise to a new level. Football captures that perfectly. Think of Costa Rica, a team that hasn’t made the knockout stages in 24 years. They triumphed over the highly-fancied Uruguay and England in the space of a week. They had been written off. But they epitomized what it is to transcend. What it takes to win. Courage, commitment, sacrifice. And most of all, belief.