June 14, 2014

What Football Means To Me –A Note On Nationalism

When studying the history of fashion, nationalism is definitely a key issue, as it helped build unify diverse peoples into one single State. Caterina de Medici exported her typical Italian style, resulting in the first steps to achieving the worldwide phenomenon now known as Made in Italy. Elizabeth I translated the English wealth into her beautiful clothes, showing her power through fine jewellery and materials in her dresses. The Spaniards –and later on the Dutch– showed their strong religious beliefs in the austerity of their garments, without willing to leave behind luxury, which was achieved through the use of materials. And Versailles, the magical paradise of the French courts, showed the power of the nobles and their fashionable lifestyles. 

Fashion and nationalist styles have definitely helped build a common culture in many countries, which might have helped these nations subsist through the years. But nationalism need not be exclusively a fashion phenomenon, and not even the political monster that took humanity into several wars in the past. Nationalism, I believe, can also be achieved through sports, and what better than football, now that we're in the middle of the FIFA World Cup?

Today was Colombia's first match in the championship. Many believe this game showed how Colombians can stand together and hold hands when talking about football and being united for just one match. People talk about second opportunities and peace, all in the context of football.

Of course, I do believe in all these things. And more than anything else, I believe in a better future for my beloved country. But why can't we show this same group work and tolerance to each other in our daily lives? Why can't we hold hands when trying to end the internal conflict, or when trying to help the poor –who actually comprise a huge percentage of the country's population? Why can't we give second chances to those who were part of the country's conflict? Why can't we fight more intensely to actually achieve peace?

Before going to sleep last night, I was thinking about Colombia's performance in this World Cup. I was thinking about Colombia winning today's game––and maybe even winning the Cup! But what I really liked about the idea was not partying or having red, blue and yellow painted on my face. It was the idea of taking our first step into the social reconstruction of the country. I think Colombians need to see that we have something in common, something that unites us all, regardless of social or ethnic background, cultural beliefs, and education. And if football can bring this to us, I really hope we can win the World Cup!

We might not have––yet?––a common fashion to export––although I have seen espadrilles, bags and other accessories that are part of traditional Colombian outfits out in runways lately––but I believe we can become a peace reconstruction example. We have a bright future ahead, and hopefully football can be the beginning of Colombia's path to achieve greatness!