The World Cup

The World Cup

Dear Friends,

I hope our short series of reflections on the women in Jesus’ genealogy were interesting.

Tomorrow we move on to a series of Devotions with the World Cup as their linking theme.  For football fans the next few weeks will be a form of nirvana as the World Cup takes place in Qatar, normal TV schedules will be cast aside, and the nations will be glued to their screens.  For those who loathe the game the next few weeks may be a good chance to catch up on reading, cleaning, or binge watching Netflix!  Over the next two weeks, however, in our Daily Devotions, we’re going to be thinking a bit about the World Cup.

We want to celebrate the sporting endeavour, the enthusiasm, the teamwork, and the camaraderie yet also recognise the various darker side of football – the obscene wealth, the endemic racism, and the violence against women fuelled by alcohol which sees a huge rise in assaults after key football matches.  We rejoice in the inclusion of women in the game in more recent years and we see how football can transform the lives of young working class men, black men in particular.  And yet we realise the lost dreams and broken realities that go alongside football.  

We’re concerned about justice issues in Qatar and the environmental horror of seeking to air-condition football stadiums.  We know that the workers who built those stadiums were poorly paid and had little or no health and safety protection yet we don’t want to be killjoys.  Christians are often very good at dwelling on the negative, often getting some sort of pleasure in being glum!  

Of course there are local church roots to many football clubs; even now there’s a religious identity in Liverpool and Glasgow to which team you may support.  Yet these Christian roots don’t stop the most outrageous racism being seen in football.  Three England players who missed a penalty in the UEFA Euro 2020 final were subject to online racist abuse from supporters after the match. After England’s defeat on penalties to Italy, the UK Football Policing Unit received more than 600 reports of online racist comments made towards England’s black players.  Despite the increased popularity of women playing football there’s an issue of male violence against women; two players in recent years have been convicted of rape and two others await trial.  

Many people enjoy and celebrate this tournament and so, over the next couple of weeks, we have a range of reflections on different aspects of the game where we rejoice and rage, praise and worry, celebrate and mourn.  

We hope you find these devotions useful and stimulating in your own journeys of discipleship. 

with every good wish

Andy

The Rev’d Andy Braunston
Minister for Digital Worship

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