The Japanese way of football

The countries have brought a significant piece of their home to an international platform, giving fans the opportunity to indulge in their cultural practices.

Puja Sarkar

Puja Sarkar

The Daily Star


Photo: LS

December 6, 2022

DHAKA – With over 30 nations participating in this year’s World Cup, the field has once again become a melting pot of cultural expression. Particularly, South Korea and Brazil have made an impact in bringing a significant piece of their home to an international platform, giving fans from all over the opportunity to indulge in their cultural practices. The World Cup being watched by millions all over the globe not only presents the chance for teams to exhibit their skills, talent and sportsmanship, but also breaks cultural barriers. Be it in celebrating their victory, performances, or their jerseys, the cultural expression of the World Cup 2022 is diverse and captivating.

Brazilian players breaking into a dance and exhibiting their intricate footwork is nothing sudden. It all began in 2010 when Tshabalala along with four of his teammates, performed the ‘African Macarena’ dance to celebrate their win. In this one iconic moment, the team went on to represent not just their country but also its culture.

So, what makes the Brazilian dance, generally known as ‘samba,’ a powerful tool for cultural expression?

Brazil’s music is as socially and culturally diverse as its population, and Samba is the outcome of this diversity. Its amalgamation of many musical and cultural elements has given it the ability to represent the nation’s vibrant diversity as a whole. The world’s attention has been caught by the Brazilian Carnival celebrations’ throbbing rhythms, hedonistic revelry, extroverted performativity, and grandiose exhibitionism, which is where samba is most gloriously performed. Beyond its popularity on record and in performance, samba has become a standard piece of popular music for parades, processions, and even protest marches all over the world. When viewed in the perspective of ‘World Music,’ samba delivers a potent synthesis of rhythm, dance, and spectacle.

Hence, being performed on a grand platform as a statement of victory and joy, the Samba has become iconic among Brazilian football fans all over, and creating space for the Brazilian culture to be appreciated by millions.

However, one of the most iconic moments in this year’s World Cup has been BTS’s youngest member, Jungkook taking the stage. The South Korean star launched the program with a flawless performance of this year’s anthem ‘Dreamers.’ Near the end of the performance, Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi joined the BTS member, and the two completed the song with a stirring moment of unity. In the official music video, which was made public recently, Jungkook can be seen dancing in the marketplaces and swaying atop skyscrapers. To no one’s surprise, the video is receiving a lot of positive feedback from the viewers. Some people have even proclaimed it to be the greatest FIFA anthem to date, even surpassing Shakira’s smash hit song ‘Waka Waka.’

This was a monumental moment for K-pop fans and for South Korea. K-pop has been growing for decades and the music is powerful, rhythmic, and like football, the fans laugh and cry with their artists. Additionally, when we think of South Korea, we immediately think of K-pop as its culture. However, K-pop is often scrutinised by many who are unaware of the industry’s corruption and the idols’ hardships. Suffice to say, there is a belief among non-fans that K-pop is just meaningless lyrics and purely for aesthetics. Jungkook performing at the FIFA World Cup 2022 broke this notion and has allowed non-fans to soften up to K-pop and South Korean culture. It not only adds to the group’s wide array of accolades but also symbolises Jungkook as the first Asian musician to perform the FIFA World Cup’s national anthem. Only a few musicians, like Shakira and Enrique Iglesias, have received this honour.

It’s quite fascinating how a sport as massive as football transcends geographical boundaries and has the ability to break stereotypes. It brings together nations and offers each team to highlight its talent and culture while resonating with their fans. Cultural diversity and expression are among the few opportunities the World Cup offers players but nevertheless, it is certainly one of the more impactful and enchanting ones.

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