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HOME > SAMURAI BLUE > NEWS > World Cup of Respect - Always have respect Vol.117


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World Cup of Respect - Always have respect Vol.117

24 February 2023

World Cup of Respect - Always have respect Vol.117

“We respect our opponents, but we don't want to give them too much respect.”

Head Coach MORIYASU Hajime repeatedly used these words during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, in which Japan shocked the world by defeating Germany and Spain.

Both of these opponents were without a doubt very formidable and among the favourites to win the competition. Coach Moriyasu did not intend to underestimate such opponents, but instead wanted to emphasise that Japan had to capitalise on their own advantages while putting forth all of their effort to win.

“Not giving the opponents too much respect” is an expression that has been used in football for a long time, and it simply means to “fight without fearing the opponents.” Although it may sound simple, sometimes the most obvious things are the hardest to do.

Looking back, the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ was a “World Cup of Respect.” This is not because FIFA made it a theme of the tournament, but because of all types of respect were displayed throughout the tournament: respect for the opposing team and players, the mutual respect between players and fans, and above all, respect for the fans from all over the world, the local residents, including a very large number of foreign residents working in Qatar, filling the stadium, and the many volunteers and staff who worked for the tournament. I think the great atmosphere of the tournament was created by the respect that these people continued to show for each other.

Of course, there were also a number of issues and behaviours that showed no respect at all. After that fantastic final, the Argentine goalkeeper behaved in a foolish way that was disrespectful to the thousands of people who had worked so hard to make the tournament a success.

But overall, it was a tournament where people understood and treated one another with respect, or at least tolerated their differences. And I believe that this spirit of respect was perhaps the main significance of the World Cup taking place in Qatar.

With the exception of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™, all of the more than 20 previous World Cups have been held in Christian countries. None were held in Muslim countries. In addition, despite accounting for a quarter of the world's population, no Muslim country has yet to host the Olympic Games, a global sporting event alongside the World Cup.

There are many factors at play, but it must be said that it is extremely polarised, despite it being called a “celebration of humanity.” The significance of Qatar hosting the World Cup was not small in that sense, as it became the first ever global sporting event to be held in a Muslim country.

Alcohol sales in the stadiums were called off just before the start of the tournament, but other than that, Qatar imposed no restrictions on spectators from abroad. No one censured women for strolling the streets in miniskirts.

During the tournament, the Islamic Cultural Centre located in Doha, the capital of Qatar, welcomed foreign spectators, introduced them to Islamic culture, and even provided them with many souvenirs, which had the word “respect” written on it in both Arabic and English. Christian and Muslim societies have sharply conflicted to one another since the Middle Ages. This still exists today, but the fundamental tenet of the Islamic Cultural Centre is that there won't be any conflict as long as we respect one another's religious convictions.

During the tournament, Akhtar RAJA, a London-based lawyer, posted the following opinion in one of the Qatari newspapers.

“The personal lifestyles of visitors coming to Qatar are of no concern to the Qatari government. However, Qatar expects - as does any other nation - the same level of dignity and respect for its values and culture.”

“Let sport do what it does best and unite competitors and fans alike. The global adoration for this tournament should be permitted to seep and spread into a wider understanding and mutual respect for different societies - as was always the intention.”

Written by OSUMI Yoshiyuki (Football Journalist)

*This article was originally posted on the Japan Football Association Newsletter, “JFAnews,” January 2023 edition.

Japan Football Association Newsletter “JFAnews”

The Japan Football Association Newsletter “JFAnews” contains all the information on the Japan National Team, events hosted by JFA, tournament results, and team information throughout the nation. The official monthly magazine is a must read for coaches, referees, and all members of the football family.

For information on the newest edition (Japanese website)

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