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The Saints of Soccer Pt.1

If you are into sports, any kind of sport, chances are you are familiar with the feeling of hoping for a miracle that will change the outcome of a game. Depending on your religious views, you would be asking God, Allah, or Jesus, to lead your team to victory. This, the act of praying and meditating in the hope for divine intervention seems to be an intrinsic human phenomenon. We all do it.

I suspect examples of this can be found in many cultures across the globe, not just pertaining to sports in general, but to soccer specifically. Today I found two examples from two radically different cultures.

In Japan there’s a shrine and a God exclusively dedicated to sports. “The Times-Picayune At the Shiramine Jingu Shrine, soccer fans in front of an altar of soccer balls ring a bell after making an offering to wake the god Sei-daimyojin, the God of Sports, to pray for luck for the Japan team in the World Cup. The Asukai family were creators of an ancient Japanese game of kickball similar to soccer called kemari, and as they were ardent worshippers at the shrine, the sport of kemari, and later soccer, became associated with the shrine. It is believed that if you pay your respects at the shrine, your soccer game will improve, which draws many professional soccer players from all over Japan to pay homage here before tournaments, including the World Cup.” –MICHAEL DeMOCKER

In Mexico, only during the World Cup, at the Parroquia de San Gabriel Arc├íngel in the Mexico Valley, you will find baby Jesus transformed into “The Holy Child of Soccer”. For as long as the Mexican national team is participating in the tournament The Holy Child will sport the national team jersey, Adidas shoes and a ball at his feet. The church started doing this during the World Cup of 1994. For like any other saint, there’s a prayer for the Holy Child of Soccer. I took the time to translate it below.


Holy Child of Soccer, I ask you with great hope
Lend a hand to our national team
Don’t allow the Argentine team to score on us
And improve Omar Bravo’s skill

You who play in heaven, we beg you sincerely
Allow Kikin to head the ball with confidence
Don’t let Rafa Marquez use his hands
Or let Luis Perez take a fall in vain.

With your divine line protect our goal keeper.
Protect our players day and night
Don’t allow the ball to enter
And don’t let anyone hurt Jared’s heel.

Holy child, you who shoots to the goal among the clouds
Help Oswaldo to stop the penalties
And Lavolpe to quit smoking
Save them from elimination

Given the wide spread appeal of soccer around the world the number of different rituals across cultures must be staggering. If you know of any similar costumes in any other country please leave a comment and tell me about it. I’ll do another post as I find out more.

Via: DFinitivo, Nola

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Category: Culture

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