The Universal Language

by Katy Kappele

Soccer, or football if you will, is like Esperanto. 

    It is likely that you know what soccer is — it’s played on grass with a round, generally black-and-white ball.  It can be played indoors or out, generally has eight players per side on the pitch at a time, and involves the use of shin guards. 

    Esperanto, however, is a little less well-known.  A language composed of common elements from languages around the world, Esperanto is spoken mainly in East Asia, Europe, and South America, though it is used around the world.  Each year, a congress is held for the language and those who speak it.  The conference is held in a different country every year, but because there is no language barrier, this is no problem. 

    So I know you’re dying to find out how soccer is like a language that only 10 thousand people can actually speak.  Supposedly, Esperanto is a universal language.  It did an okay job achieving that; soccer did much better. 

    Called the “universal game,” part of soccer’s success is its simplicity.  The rules are the same for every game of soccer from those played by children to those in the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup. 

    From slums in South America where children are living on a dollar a day, to deserts in Africa where people are dying of malaria and AIDS, to England, Italy, and Spain, where tourist dollars bring in millions in revenue, football brings joy to children and adults alike.  Soccer is played on every continent, by people of all colors, all genders, all sexual orientations, and all ages. 

    There is only one position denoted in the rules: the goalkeeper.  Other positions, such as strikers, midfielders, and defenders, are an unwritten rule.  The play is free-flowing, allowing for creativity.  There is only one major rule; the players may not use their hands and arms while in regular play. 

    This, I believe, it what makes soccer such a success.  What other game so perfectly shows off the trials and wonder of a bipedal nature? 

    Bipedalism is the most essential part of human nature.  Without this, we would not be here.  We would never have left Africa, learned to eat meat, made tools, invented fire and domesticated animals, created complex societies and computers, or played games.  Soccer, because of the reliance on the legs, showcases this nature extremely well. 

    Anyway, what I’m saying is this: soccer is not only the universal game, it is also the universal language.  I have seen children, those unpolluted human gems, come together without any knowledge of the other’s language, and play happily for hours.  Games like soccer, with universal rules and strategies, played around the world by people of all types, might just be the answer to world peace.

    The problem?  Most Americans aren’t that into soccer.  Maybe if they see how cool soccer is, not just the sport, but also how it unifies the world every four years, they’ll get into it.  I mean, every World Cup is promoted and fused by two songs, usually upbeat, that combine cultures, allowing people all over the world to groove to the same song, at the same time, for the same event, no matter where they are in the world. 

    And that’s cool.

One thought on “The Universal Language

  1. You are right about the popularity about Esperanto the international language. The World Esperanto Association now enjoys consultative relations with the United Nations.

    During a short period of 124 years Esperanto is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide. It is the 22nd most used language in Wikipedia, ahead of Danish and Arabic. It is a language choice of Google, Skype, Firefox, Ubuntu and Facebook.

    Native Esperanto speakers, (people who have used the language from birth), include World Chess Champion Susan Polger, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet. Financier George Soros learnt Esperanto as a child.

    Esperanto is a living language – see

    Their new online course has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per day. That can’t be bad 🙂

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