The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Why soccer is beloved around the world

U.S. midfielder Yunus Musah takes a shot on goal in the second half of the Nov. 21 match against Wales at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, Qatar. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Among vertebrates — birds, fish, terrestrial — the basic ground plan includes two sets of appendages, upper and lower. English-speaking humans call ours “arms” and “legs.” Most of our sports use both.

With soccer, not so much. Using only feet, how interesting can a team sport be? It is not unusual that after 90 minutes, plus referee time, neither team has scored and the only action worth watching has been the fighting in the stands, among cadres of bored-silly fans. So, what’s to be done? The pitch is cleared; goalies and kickers decide which team can claim to have “won.”

Henry Olsen: Watch the World Cup — and witness something infinitely enthralling

The popularity of soccer can perhaps be explained by the egalitarian nature of the fantasizing that it permits. Most of us don't have the body type, skill set or strength of character that would allow us to picture ourselves as a superstar in most sports. But soccer heroes come in various shapes and sizes. That could be me out there, winning it all with my unbelievable bicycle kick.

Don’t like my explanation? Okay, what’s yours?

Richard Titus, Alexandria