By Lara Pickford-Gordon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sixty-four games, twenty-five days. It all ends today, the finale with the two top teams, France and Croatia, battling on the field for the gold cup. It has been described as an unpredictable, exciting World Cup with upsets and star players and their respective teams heading home.
There was grit and determination displayed by some teams who, during their 90 minutes plus extra time, went down fighting. There were losses which literally shocked the system of fans. My Editor was looking dazed and incredulous after Germany’s lost, the audacity of those Koreans getting two goals past the defending team.
According to stats from Fifa.com, Russia 2018 was the third consecutive tournament in which the defending champion was knocked out at the group stage; it happened to Italy in 2010 and Spain 2014.
Another big upset was Brazil’s loss. Some fans were crying and raging—the ‘agony of defeat’. There will be World Cup withdrawal after a month of anticipation, excitement. The armchair commentators must now reminisce.
The Catholic News sought the views of a few members of clergy on the teams they were supporting. Though the teams of some were eliminated, they remain diehards rebuking any notion of switching loyalties.
Fr Matthew d’Hereaux, Episcopal Vicar for Vocations and Priestly Formation, parish priest St Joseph RC, June 29: I am supporting Brazil come what may. I am not a bandwagonist! The Aspirancy house is a buzz with World Cup fever. There are some Argentine diehards but I will not be deterred. I support Brazil every World Cup not because of its brand of football but because I feel a close affinity for Brazil because of its history and culture. Long live Brazil!
Fr Dwight Merrick, Episcopal Vicar East, June 29: My personal sentiments are I’m happy that unknowns like Korea could defeat the champions because it means the standard around the world is levelling out; I’m sorry that no African team went on though Nigeria was great at times. I like that Argentina had to work hard and pray for others to do badly to get through. Defending has been poor from some teams and very few standout forwards so far. [I] hope that a dark horse can win it all to give hope to the beautiful game worldwide. Anyone can win!
Fr Dexter Brereton CSSp, cluster moderator, Arouca/Maloney, July 3 via WhatsApp: Supporting Argentina. My team gone home and ah need ‘healing’ LOL. I have supported Argentina since their World Cup victory in 1978 under Cesar Luis Menotti. July 6: The World Cup may be France’s to lose…but saying so I might be blighting them!
Deacon Lennox Toussaint, Episcopal Delegate, Administration, July 6: It is going to be an exciting end and there could be some major surprises because you have question marks: Is Russia going to make it into the last round of this, not off of skill but off of determination? But it is very unfortunate from my perspective that France and Brazil have to meet. I don’t mind them meeting in the final but meeting in the semi-final…but I will go down fighting with Brazil, even if I have a French name”. (Update: Russia and Brazil didn’t make it)
Fr Roger Paponette, Chancellor, July 9: Brazil, they are gone. We get our licks fair and square and we all home nursing our wounds looking forward to rebuilding ourselves for the next World Cup…I am no bandwagonist here. I take my wins and take my loss in the same manner. I have supported Brazil since my teen years for a number of reasons. Culturally they are so much like us, even physically how we look like them and I just love the way they perform on the field. Their natural style of football is so flamboyant: it is like theatre on the ground.
Fr Jason Boatswain, July 9: I supported Argentina. Since the good old days of Diego ‘hand-of-God’ Maradona when our diet of Italian soccer was the dessert on Sunday afternoon…when he played with Napoli, since then I supported Argentina.
Fr Jason on his Facebook page posted the following on June 21, “Former Cardinal of Buenos Aires in Argentina, now Pope Francis we need your prayers. Asking for Messi!” Fr Jason admitted though that his team did not play well, “they played horribly, horribly, but you hope”.
Fr Robert Christo, Vicar for Communications, July 10: I am supporting France. They have a nice mix of talented team members. It is one of the sole surviving teams with a strong African connection. They have a strong attacking frontline especially with Kylian [Mbappe] and are not into this fake, foul-playing and theatrics.