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Football And The Game of the Gods

The Hand of God seems to control all of football.

As we come down to the final four teams in the 2014 World Cup, VOA’s Bagassi Koura looks at the invisible hands controlling the kicks, passes, and shots:

I used to think that football was 60 percent skill and 40 percent chance. But as this World Cup shows, I’m way off: this sport is entirely controlled by the Gods of Football.

How else can we explain some of the favorite teams – the dynasties – surviving the direst of situations? Brazil comes within one penalty shot of losing in the Round of 16, but manages to survive. Mexico dominates the Netherlands for nearly the full 90 minutes, only to lose after the winning goal comes in the 94th minute.

At the same time, how else can we explain the other outlandish upsets that no one saw coming? England, Portugal, and defending champions Spain going out in the first round? Greece into the Round of 16 and Costa Rica into the quarterfinals for the first times? And then there are the moments in the matches that have seemingly come through fate, whether kind (van Persie’s spectacular header); cruel (Neymar’s Cup-ending back injury); or a little of both (Tim Howard’s miraculous saves in the United States’ loss to Belgium).

True, you do need the skill to get to – and succeed at – the World Cup. But it takes more than skill to win. Perhaps Maradona was onto something when described his famous goal in the 1986 World Cup as being guided by “the hand of God.”

Based on this year’s Cup, it seems that the beautiful game indeed sits squarely in the hands of the Football Gods.

(this post courtesy VOA’s French World Cup blog. check it out at


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