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World Cup Competition and Collaboration by OnFaith

The World Cup recently ended. Coverage included musings by commentators about whether the game brings about peace or strife, and whether disparate groups of people can mingle with one another effectively through sports. In this article, published during the World Cup in 2010, Mark Hopwood and Matthew John Cressler (two diehard soccer fans who are also graduate students) discuss a point that didn't surface much during this Cup's commentary: what about the World Cup and religion? Can there be religious cooperation during an event like this?

But something perhaps as remarkable as the game itself is that a celebration of nationalism as extravagant as the World Cup, where even the most hesitantly patriotic drape themselves in national colors, serves as a remarkably peaceful convergence point for people who would never otherwise meet.

Painted from head to toe in what could be mistaken as war paint, fans in this World Cup have intermingled with others of various ethnicities, religions, and political persuasions without having to sacrifice any of their own passions, allegiances, or identities.

A great, albeit brief, testament to this unique union of various peoples is this celebration of American and Algerian fans before their final Group C clash. This pregame ritual saw the predominantly Muslim and Arabic-speaking Algerians sharing their scarves and cheers with their American opponents before a hotly contested match – hardly the “clash of civilizations” stereotyped in the media.

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Image sourced from Flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.