How very different these two great sporting events are, and yet how purposefully similar.
Corrupt, political, nationalistic and elitist, and yet the guarantee of the underdog will always make the Olympics the greatest show on Earth.
Whereas the World Cup exudes the slimy, greasy-palmed, back-room machinations of FIFA, with its millionaire under-achievers, cheats and bullies, the Olympics manages to push past the grime of it all.
Even with the ever-present drug cheats, the odd bad sportsman and the clear financial advantage the same set of countries have over everyone else, the Olympics still gives out dreams.
You just don’t see this kind of multi-national support anywhere else. Sure, it’s unusual in that there are so many different nationality spectators and competitors in one place, but isn’t this even part of the charm?
Watching people from dozens of different countries independently standing for another county’s nationa anthem was genuinely touching. They don’t need to. No-one is making them. No-one is pointing a camera at them. They’re just being decent.
The tribalism of football. The unsaid visciousness that turns regular guys into bear-baiting animals. It isn’t here. The hurling of abuse at flags, badges, accents and histories. It isn’t here. People will point at one or two incidents and cry scandal, but they really have to be sought out. They aren’t here.
I’m not sportsman, but you don’t have to be one to appreciate when someone is trying hard. When someone is at the point of tears because they’ve done well, or badly. Because they’ve been allowed to turn up, wear the flag of their country and be seen. To see all of that, from people who aren’t paid, are sometimes never paid in fact. Amateurs who go home and back to work.
No wonder it’s so easy to deride someone who doesn’t give it everything, when you know they’re being paid £50k a week. Football doesn’t deserve it’s praise, and it knows it.