World Cup Fever Brings Joy Back To The Beautiful Game

2018 Russia. 32 of the world’s best footballing teams & fans are mixing it up, in a great celebration of the brotherhood of football. It is a celebration of nations,  great fun, great drama and great fun.

Belgian Refuses Penalty Against Tunisia

Fans respect  Lukaku after ‘admirable’ act of sportsmanship when the honest Belgian forward showed great integrity when he convinced the referee not give Belgium a penalty kick during the match against Tunisia. This reminds us of the famous English club, The Corinthians, who refused penalties, toured the world, whose club name was adopted by Brazilian club, Corinthians. Both clubs still survive today. More on ths later. Meanwhile…


South Korean Fans Carried On Shoulders by Mexican Fans

Mexican Fans Carry South Korean Ambassador On Their Shoulders

Mexican fans paraded around the streets carrying the South Korean Ambassador on their shoulders (after South Korea put world champions, Germany out of the cup with a  2-0 win & allowing Mexico into the last 16.)

Germans Crash Out But Exit with Honourable Tweet

Although the World Champions never even made it out of the group stages (last time that happened was 1938), they did exit with dignity with the tweet below. They congratulated both Sweden and Mexico and then wished ‘good luck’ in the knockout stages. Nice touch.

German Team tweet after defeat - wishing opposition best of luck

One of the All-Time Great Games

France v Argentina (4-3)

Argentina’s captain, Lionel Messe, one of the, if not, ‘the’, greatest player in the world today, smiles and looks at every French player in the eye, as he shakes hands with each member of the opposition, moments  before kick-off.  When Messi meets France’s Matuidi, they hug each other.  The next French player in the line  is the 19-year-old French revelation, Kylian Mbappe. Messi gives a warm smile to the new kid on the block and gives him a two handed shake/pat on the arm.  Then Messi turns and hugs France’s last player Antoine Griezmann.  Game on!  And what a game. It reminded me of the famous Brazil v France semi-final many years ago. Football at its finest.

Kante Hacked But Wouldn’t Fall

42 minutes into a fantastic game of football, France’s Kante was hacked by Mascherano, but Kante refused to fall.  ITV commentator, Danny Murphy spotted it and said ‘let me tell you this: Kante has probably stopped him (Mascherano) getting a red (card) because, his honesty, which I love, by the way.” No diving nor rolling around on the ground, just a brave, brilliant & honest French hero doing his thing.

A Star Is Born

As the great Messi Lionel bows out of the World Cup, a new Pele is born, France’s youngest ever goal scorer in a major competition, Kylian Mbeppe. And now the humble 19-year-old  Mbeppe is giving all his World Cup earnings to charity as he doesn’t think you should be paid to play for your country.  Mbappe & Pele are the only two teenagers to score two goals in a World Cup Finals match (Pele saved his for the 1958 final against Sweden).  It wasMbeppe’s run in the first half that ripped open the Argentinian defense and ripped up the record books.

black and white leather football


Argentinian Fans Sing Forever

92 mins on the clock & 4-2 down, Argentinian fans were still singing.  “These are songs of resistance from the Argentinian fans now. They’re still waiving their flags. They’ve been one of the highlights of the tour, for me, their supporters” said TV commentator, Guy Mowby. “They’ve been absolutely phenomenal today” said his co-commentator, Dannny Murphy.


Another Sensational Game – Belgian Coach Congratulates Japan

Belgium v Japan (3-2)

Moments after one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the World Cup (Belgium came back from 2-0 down to score the winner  4 minutes into injury time),  Belgian coach,   Roberto Martínez, congratulated Japan: “They were (played) the perfect game. They were so solid. They frustrated us. They were clinical on the counter (attack).”  Both sides’ players embraced each other at the end of this epic match. Japan, the underdogs played wonderful attacking football and played without fear against the experienced and much fancied, Belgians.  Japan went 2-0 up and somehow Belgium did a ‘Lazarus’ (came back from the dead!) and went on to win a truly intriguing match.


Japanese Respect

After one of the most exciting games in the World Cup, defeated Japan displayed their humility, their respect and their friendship when their fans cleaned up any litter in the area where they sat.

Japanese fans clean up their section f the stand after the game
Japanese fans clean up their section f the stand after the game

Then their heroes, the national team, who played wonderful football, and narrowly lost 3-2 with a goal in the 90th minute, cleaned up their own dressing room.  They even left a note saying ‘Thank You’ in Russian.

The Japanese team cleaned up their dressing room adn left a message saying 'ThankYou' in Russian.
The Japanese team cleaned up their dressing room and left a message saying ‘ThankYou’ in Russian.

There is another team that shows this kind of respect by cleaning their dressing room. And they are the best in the world in another sport: rugby. The All Blacks clean their own dressing rooms after each match.  Well done to the Japanese football team. We will miss you.


French King Tells Brazilian Prince To Stop Crying

‘Le Roi’ as the thousands of Manchester United Fans called their former highly successful captain and genius, Frenchman, Eric Cantona, has spoken to Neymar the prince of football, Brazil’s wayward genius who sadly, whinges & whines and upsets many football fans across the world. So, Neymar, pay attention and listen to the wise king’s words……

‘Le Roi’, Eric Cantona advises Brazil’s Neymar to stop acting


Croatian & English Football Honour

31 mins into the World Cup Semi-final, Croatian star midfielder, Ivan Rakitić crashed into the young English goalkeeper  Jordan Pickford whilst in the air. Pickford got up, dusted himself down. Rakatic stood up & knocked knuckles in a friendly manner with Pickford and tapped him on the chest, in I suspect, admiration for the no-nonsense young English keeper who got straight back up on his feet. Pickford & Rakatic momentarily smiled. Game resumed.
Sportsmanship Poster by a student at Hatfield Primary School
Sportsmanship Poster by a student at Hatfield Primary School who has just completed the Great Sportsmanship 6 week school’s programme


Croatian & English Friendship Despite High Stakes

16 minutes into extra time in an intense World Cup semi-final, with the score 1-1, English wing-back revelation, Kieran Trippier chased and blocked Croatia’s attacking midfielder Ivan Rakatic’s attempted cross. Trippier smiles and says something to Rakitic who smiles back and chats and then he warmly embraces Trippier’s head, acknowledging the accuracy of his defending in the heat of battle of extra time in a World Cup Semi-finals. Great, intense game of football. Congrats to both sides and good luck to the tiny new nation of Croatia who now play the three times finalists, France,  in the final.

The World Cup Trophy

IF YOU SEE SOME SPORTSMANSHIP IN ACTION – please post a comment at the end of this post (don’t forget to click ‘post’).  We’ll check it out and then post your comment within 24 hours – we’ll also accredit you with the comment. Go on. Join in the fun.

PR Smith, author, sitting on couch with footballs on the wall

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If you like these stories, you might like some other World Cup Stories:  Rio 2014 Sportsmanship Stories

Or you might like the Argentinian, Martin Palermo’s story (he missed 3 penalties in one match for Argentina but never gave up. Next game he scored for his beloved Argentina!

4 thoughts on “World Cup Fever Brings Joy Back To The Beautiful Game”

  1. A wonderful picture of Gareth Southgate comforting the Colombian who missed the penalty. The simple humanity of it. 22 years of pain put to good use, redemption couldn’t have visited a more deserving candidate.

  2. I missed that Chris – thx – well spotted. Southgate is a compassionate man who knows about the pain of not scoring. NB Several journalists talk about Henderson missing a penno – he didn’t. It was saved. Missing a penno is missing the target (over the bar or wide). He didn’t do that. Agree?

  3. The one thing that sticks out, is the one thing that didn’t stick out. Before the tournament there was a worry that violence would ruin the tournament, none of it!

    As can be seen above, sport brings people together. The Beautiful Game

    • It was wonderful to see no police presence, no riots, no trouble, in fact there seemed to be little segregation of fans – as I could see mixed batches of fans sitting together in many of the stadia. A great ad for the beautiful game.

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