Cote d'Ivoire soccer flag

The Beautiful Game

by Chaplain Ray Dupere co-chaplain at Watford Football Club

Note: Football is how most of the world refers to soccer

I think it was Pele who was the first person to ever refer to football as “The Beautiful Game”? But as to why he called it that, I have no idea. Was he correct, or wasn't he? Well, if “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” I guess each person has to decide for himself. So, below are my musings on why I think football is beautiful.

To begin with, it's a relatively simple game. There's only one object really, and that is to make sure you put the ball in the back of your opponents' net more times than they put it in the back of your net. It may be a bit more complicated than that, but in a nutshell, scoring the most goals is really the essence of the game.

It's also beautiful because it's such a universal game. Because of it's simplicity, it can be (and is) played just about everywhere on the planet. It doesn't matter whether you go to Tokyo or Rio or Nairobi or Scunthorpe, the chances are you'll be able to find somebody playing football somewhere.

Another reason I think it's beautiful is because even little kids can play it. If a child is old enough to run, he or she is just about old enough to play football. The quality of their play may not be perfect, but you have to admit it's still beautiful to watch them all running around tripping over the ball and each other and having fun.

This next one is a bit different, but to me football is also beautiful because you use your feet, rather than your hands. A foot is almost universally considered to be one of the least honorable parts of the human body. And yet the single most loved game in all the world is called “foot”-ball. I find the irony in all of that quite beautiful.

In their song, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” the 70's rock group, “The Birds,” popularised the Bible passage in Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, that starts out, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every event under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die,” etc, etc. And although it doesn't actually say it, the author, if he were a football fan, could easily have added, “a time to win and a time to lose” to the list as well.

It goes on to say in verses 11-14 that God has made everything beautiful in its time; and that He has done this so that men will show Him the respect He is due. I would not want to even try to imagine what life without football would be like. So it seems to me that, out of respect, anyone who truly loves football ought to stop and take a moment sometime to say thanks to God for “The Beautiful Game.”