This Cup had it all
Sport still has power to alter world's perspectivesPosted: Monday July 01, 2002 8:30 AM
Updated: Tuesday July 02, 2002 6:12 AM
YOKOHAMA -- In a time of war across the planet, another three-letter word -- joy -- brought the world together in a display of Asian delight and hospitality.
Football fever swept over South Korea and Japan as the masses surrendered to the power of the world game.
Much like the tournament surrendered to Brazil and their prodigal son... carried by a rejuvenated Ronaldo, the Samba Kings found their rhythm and went on to win a fifth world title. In the end, not even Awesome Ollie Kahn could hold the Brazilians back. There were reasons for the three-time champions to smile, though. After all, they surpassed all imaginable expectations, while other powers left through the back door.
Defending champion France, favorite Argentina and darkhorse Portugal only stuck around for a couple of weeks, while Italy and Spain eventually fell to the red sea of Korean Team Fighting.
Fighting amidst FIFA officials had threatened to mar the event even before it started. But although the football family came close to melting, it eventually pulled together around the same man. And not even problems with ticketing could take fans' attention away from the beautiful game.
And how beautiful it was, with nations from all corners of the globe making their presence felt. Who will forget the flair of finals first-timer Senegal; the sheer willpower and determination of a captivating Korean team led by a Dutch man with a dream; the Arena-led Americans, who proved they could hang with the best in the world in yet another sport; and the terrier-like Turks who fought their way to a bronze medal and legendary status back home?
This Cup had it all, including style. Hairstyle, that is. The mohawk made a bizarre return, while Ronaldo started his own trend.
Finally, I have to pay my respects to the football supporters of the world. There was no sign of violence. Instead, fans rejoiced and seemed more worried about cleaning up than tearing down the city. A lesson for the western world to learn -- we leave the Far East with a new perspective of people, of culture, of life, and an idea that we can all co-exist after all. It's just a shame that it takes a game of football to make us realize it.
World Sport's Pedro Pinto reported regularly to CNNSI.com from South Korea/Japan during the World Cup.