The World Cup is the only time the global nations comes together to share a collective experience - often bad, occasionally good but always together, unified in sport. However, one Egyptian cleric appears to have scored a spectacular own goal by suggesting the beautiful game can actually destroy nations.
Yasser Borhami, who is part of the Salafi Call movement, warned that viewing World Cup matches is a "disaster that makes him very irate" as watching Messi, Ronaldo et al knock a ball around Brazil for a month distracts Muslims from their religious duties, which invariably leads to the "destruction of nations and peoples".
Reported by AP, Borhami denounced World Cup viewing on the group’s website over the weekend, offering a series of conditions under which the sport would be considered forbidden. These include being a distraction from God, revealing of body parts that should remain covered, and luring Muslims into supporting non-believers. These are conditions soccer meets, he said.
However, Borhami’s words caused an outcry, particularly among the nation’s youth, with many Egyptians currently glued to events in South America on their TVs, despite their team failing to qualify.
Having somewhat misinterpreted the mood of the nation, the cleric quickly backtracked on his comments, no doubt fearful of alienating great swathes of the populous already distrustful of Salafi Call due to their historic support of the Muslim Brotherhood. When asked about his remarks on one of Egypt’s sports channels, Borhami retreated: "I just said don't waste your time".