Ok. President Obama decreed that federal workers can extend their lunch hours by an hour to watch the U.S. play in the World Cup. Big deal. The president of Costa Rica gave all workers a full day off to watch their team.
This past Sunday in Costa Rica, many people in this predominantly Catholic country of only 4.7 million, went to church. Most likely, they prayed for success of the national team in its game against Greece.
After services, they returned home for their Sunday hot meal before which they would bless the food put before them and pray again for a victory.
Sated, the families adjourned to places before the television set to cheer the locals.
The prayers obviously paid off. Heaven answered. The Ticos, as they are called, won after a double overtime and penalty shootout. More impressive, they played most of the game short a player ejected after a penalty.
Costa Rica is a soccer-crazed nation. The U.S. is not yet, but is becoming fanatical.
Having won three games, defeating favored Uruguay, Italy, Greece and tying Italy, Costa Rica is being called, “The mouse that roared, Cinderella boys and Rocky 11.”
Its residents are dreaming the impossible dream.
In Costa Rica, soccer is virtually the only sport. Bull riding is popular but pales before soccer. There is a rare fatality, but while some riders suffer bruises, and an occasional broken bone, you never see a rider biting a bull on its shoulder.
There is also a certain element into “cock fighting” which can be quite bloody, but owners claim an antibiotic injection will make their roosters whole. No studies have been done to check the claims.
Geovanney, a Costa Rican friend, is a soccer fanatic. He knows the names of every Costa Rican player at home and abroad.. He even knows family lineages.
When Pope Francis, an Argentinean, was elected, Geovanney cheered, “Now Argentina can boast two of the world’s greatest, the Pope and Messi.”
Lionel (pronounced Lee-o-nel) Messi, also an Argentinian, is among soccer’s elite players and has scored at least one goal in each World Cup game.
While some popes are voted to sainthood after their deaths, Messi is regarded as a living god by many of his fans.
Only 24, he plays for Barcelona and earns $39 million a year, according to Forbes magazine.
The Pope’s salary has not been disclosed, but some individual paintings in Vatican City are worth much more than Messie’s income.
Costa Rica next faces soccer powerhouse Netherlands, that on the verge of defeat, came back to trounce Mexico with two late goals.
As a TV announcer proclaimed, “The great adventure continues.”