Quick answer; it could. If only the politicians and power mongers would let it. In a world filled with violence and hatred, I am one of those who truly believes that the majority of the people watching care more about their country scoring a goal than any territorial conflict or prejudice against people. Despite my belief that FIFA may very well be corrupt, a belief somewhat influenced by The Netherlands’ inability to break through and win it all, I truly believe this tournament, FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brasil, can do a lot more good than harm. In fact, I don’t even think it is close. I am not naive. As a Jew and as an American, I know there are people who hate us. But wouldn’t it be great if all the battles and anger could be left on a soccer pitch? I know my prejudices towards countries like Holland, America and England are based on personal experiences that make me root in favor of their success, just as my prejudices against Iran, Algeria and France are also based on my experiences or perceptions. However, wouldn’t it be great if it stopped there for everyone. I wouldn’t gloat over the death of Iranians, but I certainly gloated over their defeat in a World Cup match. When I say I hate Cristiano Ronaldo and I hate Portugal, it is because he strikes me as arrogant and I see Portugal as a villain in international soccer tournaments, not because I hate the country or people. On the contrary, I have Portuguese blood. My mother’s maiden name is Rodrigues-Lopes, a Portuguese name. And my hatred for Ronaldo wants me to see him fail in football, excuse me, soccer, not fail in life. And yes, as a Jewish man and Zionist I would much prefer Palestinians dancing in the streets because Israel didn’t qualify or because the U.S. got eliminated, not because of a successful terrorist attack that killed Jews.
The good news, I believe the majority of the planet would agree with this sentiment. They just need to fight to create governments that feel the same way. It may be a pipe dream, but to quote my favorite line from the movie Flashdance, “when you lose your dreams, you die.”