Pique n' your interest 

The World Cup runneth over

While the World Cup may not be gripping our nation, there are millions of others out there who have been religiously following the sporting news coming out of the east.

Take the English for example.

During last week's match against Argentina, six million English took the day off work (that's one in five missing from the daily workforce) as they watched their countrymen fight for their nation's pride against old rivals.

That's commitment for you - and patriotism, fanaticism and devotion all rolled into one.

This behaviour is repeated throughout the world, touching all corners of the globe because soccer truly is the world's sport.

Hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans have made the trip to Japan and Korea this month to watch their nation's team battle it out on the pitch.

Soccer, or football as it is more commonly known, is serious stuff.

It's played by boys in the smallest African villages, in the shantytowns of South America and by men in high-rolling city boardrooms.

They've all dreamed at one point of being on that pitch, playing soccer for their country.

That's soccer's draw - everyone has kicked the ball around and consequently, everyone can relate to what's unfolding on the pitch.

All you need to play the game is a ball and some makeshift posts.

Unlike hockey or skiing it doesn't require a bankroll to get started, nor does it require exclusive membership into a snotty club like golf or tennis.

It can be played on any side street, dirt road, or strip of grass, anywhere.

It transcends the lines drawn by poverty and class and even culture, culminating every four years when the best meet the best.

At the World Cup level the sport is all about sheer athleticism. It doesn't even matter what teams are playing - they're all good and that makes for some gripping matches.

Players have stamina equalling any hockey team, strength to rival any rugby club and the finesse of an Olympic gymnast.

Watching soccer players draw out a subtle game of ball control for 90 tense minutes is great sport-watching.

More often than not the games are not high scoring and the battle of control between two equal teams is as complex as a chess game.

Unlike basketball, where the swish of the ball through the net is so frequent that there's no real point in rejoicing when a team sinks one, soccer is about patience and about wearing the other team down.

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