Location: United Kingdom

A Naija Guy living (and loving) in the UK.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Spirituality and Soccer

In the 1999 European Cup final featuring Manchester United Vs Bayern Munich in Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium, Man Utd chaplain Rev John Boyers prayed to God for a miracle so his team could win. Anyone who has been watching the World Cup over the last couple of weeks will also be familiar with the joint squad prayers before games, the hands clenched and the look towards the heavens when shots are saved or go wayward and players who cross themselves before taking penalties.

Other avid watchers of the game will remember the stunned silence from German television commentators after the Brazilians knelt down together in a circle and prayed after winning the Confederations Cup. Fellow Nigerians will remember 'Brother' Taribo leading the Eagles in prayer before games in the 1998 World Cup. It has become a recognisable part of the sport with South American and African countries being particularly involved in collective prayer before and after games. Other football players have regularly attributed their success to prayer, while some when interviewed have admitted to praying before important matches.

In our everyday lives we pray to seek divine intervention in our human endeavour be it seeking good health, wealth, success in exams, improvement in the circumstances of an individual, group, country etc. In the majority of cases these interventions are for the advancement of an individual or group and not at the expense of another. The issue of prayer in Football is one that baffles me as if both teams are praying to the same God then surely one side will end up saying their prayers were not answered?. Isn't this selfish? I guess it would be okay if the prayers are seeking that the individuals involved perform to the best of their potential but when it comes to sport most of us believe its the success that counts and thus pray for the win.

The issue of prayer in sports was such a significant one that it was refered to the United States Supreme Court a few years ago where the Justices had to decide whether public school students should be allowed to lead prayers over the public-address system before football games.

UK residents will also be familiar with the antics of its tabloid newspapers regularly asking the nation to pray for intervention in the many football games or for the quick healing of someones metatarsal. In Mexico, Churches are leading their parishes to pray for the success of its team in the World Cup. Are we right to pray for success in football games? Surely God has more important issues to deal with.

Anyway I've blogged enough for one day, I'm off to bed now but must remember to pray for Ghana to beat USA on Thursday first though.


Anonymous aihammed delot said...

If those boys are huddling round asking God to let them triumph over their opposition then they're a bunch of muppets. Its inexcusable. I think its acceptable for you to ask God not to let any harm come to any of the players such as severe injuries or death (Vivien-Foe R.I.P)but if you're there reciting the rosary just so you can score more goals then you're in for a Nigeria vs Denmark (France 98) type rude awakening. Did God favour the Danes? Did Laudrup send the Danish dressing room rocking with a heavy holy ghost summoning pre-game sermon - which was a much more worthy prayer than baba Taribo's 2 minute pitch plea? I think not.
When this same question wa put to Sir Alex Ferguson, he said something along the lines of: There are mass murders, natural disasters and loads of other terrible tragedies on the world - how iimportant is foobtall hen you put these other things in context. I would arge with the dude...but that wouldnt be humane.

11:02 am, June 21, 2006  
Blogger Tutsy said...

I wish all u soccer fans well...too bad i have never been a fan of the game, else i should be getting all hyped like y'all are.

3:50 am, June 22, 2006  
Anonymous TRAE said...

Anyone I've blogged enough for one day, I'm off to bed now but must remember to
pray for Ghana to beat USA on Thursday first though.

haha, liked the way you ended it, i kinda guessed you'd finish up like this. let's pray for both a Ghana and Tunisia win. big ups to CIV for going out in a blaze of glory.

10:44 am, June 22, 2006  
Blogger Morountodun said...

Go Ghana, Go!

5:24 pm, June 22, 2006  
Blogger obifromsouthlondon said...

you prayers were answered. team usa were obviously praying to the wrong god.

black people love to pray to much.

11:25 am, June 26, 2006  
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