Issue :   
August 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         August 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:August' 2018


Rise of new young players


President Vladimir Putin with the World Cup trophy at Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow Lest he forget it in the hectic formalities which would follow the end World Cup, Gianni Infantino took time off before the finale at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium to proclaim what a great job Russia had done in staging the tournament. Only a fool would have had the temerity to disagree with what the world football chief said addressing a press conference sporting a red volunteer jersey. It was deserving praise for all those who had had a hand in putting up the show. ..
It was a month of wholesome celebration of football which will remain in memory for a long time. "The infrastructure, the stadiums, everything is beautiful and efficient," Infantino said, adding that "The level of expertise, the level of operational excellence is unprecedented. What the World Cup has changed is the perception of the world towards Russia..."
It brought about a welcome change in the minds of many about the country as the world football chief described the 2018 World Cup as the best ever while thanking the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin. About a million people from all parts of the planet are believed to have visited Russia to discover it was welcoming country united by the universal appeal of football.
It was World Cup dominated by European teams – France, Croatia, Belgium and England who ended the tournament in that order. But don't forget the display of Japan, who went down to Belgium by a 94th minute goal. If only someone among them had held the ball for the dying 15 seconds of the game there would have been a different story to tell. The defeated Japanese, players as well as fans, endeared themselves to one and all by the way they cleaned up the dressing rooms and stands, with the team captain not forgetting to leave a note of thanks written a Russian. Cleanliness above everything else. It was an example for the world to follow, including India's "swachch" brigade.
It was a memorable goal-laden final that France and Croatia played on July 15, bringing down the curtain on a World Cup which saw the eclipse of established superstars of the game like the Ronaldos, Messis and Neymars and the heralding of the rise of new young players like Kylian Mbappe of the multi-racial French team. Mbappe, who, at 19, became the second youngest player to get a goal in a World Cup final when he scored one of France s goals in the country's 4-2 victory over Croatia, was adjudged as the best young player of the 2018 tournament. The legendary Pele of Brazil is the youngest to score a goal in a World Cup final. He was then 17.
Winning the World Cup after 20 years, the French team returned home to a tumultuous welcome, with President Emmanuel Macron joining in. There may be national awards in the coming days for the players and their manager Didier Deschamps. As for Croatian team, defeated but far from disgraced, they, too, received a hero's welcome at Zagreb. The footballers from the tiny nation of 42 million – a mere third of the population of Delhi – have in fact, carved a place for themselves in the hearts of people all over the world by the way they played in the month-long World Cup campaign, advancing from the group league stage and snatching victories over Denmark and Russia in penalty shoot-outs in the knock-out pre-quarters and quarter-finals before eliminating England, 2-1, in the semi-finals.

Another, achievement, and a significant one needless to say, of the 2018 World Cup is that fears over the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system, introduced in the Russia world cup for the first time, have been laid to rest.
Defending VAR, Infantino emphasized "VAR is not changing football, it is cleaning football. Here, there were 447 checks and one review every 3.5 matches. Over 16 decisions were changed. Before VAR, 95 per cent of the decisions that referees took were already correct. Thanks to VAR, we have been able to increase that to 99.32. One of the effects of VAR has been that the offside goal is finished in football. Because you are either offside or you are not offside."

Signs of looking up

While the football World Cup was on in faraway Russia, officials at Delhi University (DU) were busy holding trials for those aspiring for admission to the Capitals much after colleges. Indian football standards may not be anywhere near world cup standards.
But the game is showing signs of looking up. There's a change happening among the country's schoolchildren.
This year's Delhi University sports admissions threw up a pleasant surprise: 408 candidates selected under the sports quota were from football, and out of these 35 were girls. Basketball followed next with 368 admissions. Then came athletics (312) and cricket (260). Regrettably, hockey, deemed to be the national game, fell behind to the seventh spot. Though the ongoing FIFA world cup could be a sheer coincidence, the numbers do show the preferences of the youth..