I am not a soccer fan, although it is globally the most popular. My interest in the sport, like that of many people in the US, peaks in a strictly quadrennial way, rising briefly during the World Cup tournaments and disappearing soon after. Part of my lack of interest is the lack of a team to root for.
But this year is different. I have long thought of Costa Rica as a country that is very advanced both politically and socially, with progressive policies and anti-militaristic attitudes although they are not a rich nation as measured by per capita GDP. It did not surprise me that it had been voted this year as the happiest country.
They are not a soccer power having won just four matches in all prior World Cups and their odds of winning this one were at 2,500-to-1. They were placed in a group with Uruguay, England, and Italy who between them have won seven World Cup titles. So for all the hype about the US being in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ (i.e., the toughest group), Costa Rica’s group could well claim that dubious distinction.
But this year Costa Rica seem to have surprised everyone and have proven themselves to be giant killers. They first beat Uruguay 3-1, then they beat Italy 1-0 to be guaranteed to go into the second knockout round. They play England, who have been eliminated, tomorrow. So now I have a team to root for which makes the tournament much more interesting.
So here’s to the people of Costa Rica who have gone wild. A student at my university who is from that country sent me a link to the celebrations there where even the president dances in the streets without any extreme security. That is a mark of a truly advanced country, where the leaders are not afraid of their people.
Go Costa Rica!