I know this is a terrible thing for an internationalist-type American such as myself to admit, but I don't actually like watching soccer all that much. I like my sports fast-paced, high-scoring and frequently interrupted by beer and truck commercials, thank you very much.
However, I do enjoy the World Cup for the opportunity to see bitter geopolitical rivalries play out in a forum where no one gets killed or injured. (Well, not usually.) So, as Mark Leon Goldberg notes, today's World Cup draw is the first chance to see what we're in for. I must say, it looks like kind of slim pickings in the international drama department:
Goldberg points out a few colonizer vs. ex-colonized games in the first round, (Brazil-Portugal, U.S.-England, Spain-Chile/Honduras) but these are all centuries old and not that bitter.
The addition of North Korea to the mix is interesting, but it won't face South Korea, Japan, or the United States unless it makes it to the later rounds.The Round of 16 offers the possibility of a Honduras-Brazil match, which could be interesting depending on how the Manuel Zelaya situation plays out and an ex-Yugoslav matchup of Serbia and Slovenia could be good too. But all-in-all, it seems unlikely that any of these games will crack Steve Walt's "Sporting Events that Shook the World" list. Would a Venezuela-Colombia game or a Russia-Poland game be too much for a foreign-policy blogger to ask for?
The bigger drama (except for the soccer if you're into that sort of thing) will likely be whether South Africa can prove the skeptics wrong and put on an event that showcases its recent achievements more than its shortcomings.