I am admittedly a person who does not care about sports. However, the World Cup is one event that can even make a sports observer as apathetic as myself tune into a game that I wouldn’t normally watch. Such events in which the entire world comes together to battle it out for a world championship brings out a patriotic passion that can make even the most soccer-illiterate people yell at their televisions.
The World Cup this year has invoked quite a bit of controversy about cost, safety and corruption; however, I began to think about another controversial topic as I watched the United States defeat Ghana this past week: immigration. More than half of the U.S. World Cup soccer team players were born outside of the U.S. or have parents who are immigrants. There are four Latinos, two Native Americans, and five players who were either born in Germany or have German parents. As I began to research the team’s background, I learned that many other countries have teams that are also made up of a majority of immigrants. For example, France could hardly field a team without its immigrants.
The World Cup is a time to celebrate our national heritage, whatever that may be, but it is also a time to recognize the diversity in our country. This past week the Church of England released Prayers for the World Cup, written by the Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Nick Baines. He said of his decision to write these prayers (some of which are not to be taken too seriously), “My hope is that the World Cup would be a reminder of the joy of a nation coming together in a common cause – something that in itself is worth celebrating.” Let us pray for all immigrants, both in the United States and other countries, on the soccer field and in our communities:
Lord of all the nations, who played the cosmos into being, guide, guard and protect all who work or play in the World Cup. May all find in this competition a source of celebration, an experience of common humanity and a growing attitude of generous sportsmanship to others. Amen.
— Prayer for the World Cup (Church of England)