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FIFA Friendlies: Fans Meet the Future

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Spain draws with Mexico?

Italy and France in disarray?

Wait, wasn’t this tournament over last month?

Never let it be said that FIFA–the administrative masters of the game of soccer–have found their home in Zürich purely as a matter of chance. In the manner of the mechanical, relentless clockworks for which the Swiss were once famous, FIFA’s gears grind on and on.

It’s barely a month since the end of the 19th men’s World Cup of soccer, and players and fans now find themselves thrust into the middle of a week’s worth of “friendly” matches, representing the first strains of the long and inevitable build-up to the next tolling of the bell: Brazil 2014.

But what exactly are these friendly matches?

They are certainly an opportunity for young players to get the sense of what international play is like at the top level.

In their match with the USA two nights ago, Brazil’s latest prodigies–Neymar, Alexandre Pato, and Paulo Henrique Ganso–made themselves known to the world as budding superstars.

Already unbelievably good, all three will be in their prime–and perhaps shaving regularly–when 2014 rolls around. Similarly, Mexico and France got impressive goals from young players–Javier Hernandez and Hatem Ben Arfa, respectively–to give them hope for the future.

In the end though, it is obvious that the international friendly matches are simply a bit of self-promotion for FIFA: one “friendly” in front of thousands of spectators gives each the experience of being there and of watching Spain, or Italy, or Brazil, in person, even if the game doesn’t count.

It’s like winding the spring: having been there makes you watch more, and watching more makes you read more, and reading more makes you watch more, and on and on.

Enjoy friendly week, dear reader, but be warned: if you are not careful you may end up thinking about FIFA’s game, around the clock.


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