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Soccer, sin and supplication

By Alan Matheson - posted Monday, 26 June 2006

Spare a thought for God as the world moves into the second round.

While mere mortals would not wish to suggest that God is not capable of ensuring who will take the Cup, we do suspect that it’s a might confusing for Him or Her in Heaven at the moment.

For wherever there is soccer, God is not far away.


Who can forget the 1986 “Hand of God” goal!

Or the 1994 Cup. The headlines were: “Who will win: Jesus or Buddha?” Described as a “match that transcended mortality”, the final went into penalties. The Brazilian captain had scored after two misses by the Italians, and the pressure was on “the talisman of the Italian team”, Baggio, the Buddhist.

Taffarel, the Brazilian Christian goalie, waits and prays; Baggio shoots and misses, and “immediately the entire Brazilian squad gathers in the centrefield and says the Lord’s Prayer watched by a world audience of over one billion viewers”.

In Mexico, in 2006, the baby Jesus, stands before the altar dressed in number 12 with a soccer ball at his feet, and prayers ascend to heaven for victory.

Brazil never travels anywhere without their chaplain, who believes “that it would be suicidal to rely on ability alone”.

And Ghana players praise God for their victory over the USA.


Argentinean supporters carry a banner with the message, “The pope is German, but God is Argentine”. Saudi Arabia, in accord with their faith will refuse any “man of the match” awards, because the award comes in beer and not cash.

The faithful Jewish follower, has been warned to draw G-D’s attention to Iran because they have a “Holocaust denying president” and hence are not worthy of the Cup, to Italy, because “it’s the home of Mussolini and the fascists”, and finally to pray for a drubbing of “retrograde and reactionary” Saudi Arabia.

God gets used in mysterious ways.

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About the Author

Alan Matheson is a retired Churches of Christ minister who worked in a migration centre in Melbourne, then the human rights program of the World Council of Churches, before returning to take responsibility for the international program of the ACTU.

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