The Beautiful Game That Unites Us, Domestically and Abroad

Article written by Kyle Purchase on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association. Photo by Sam Wermut on Unsplash

Futbol. Football. Fuβball. Soccer. Depending on where you live in the world, these are some of the different words that define the game. It is sometimes referred to as the “beautiful game,” thanks to the wonder goals of Brazilian legend, Pelé. No matter what part of the world we live on, the game of soccer unites families, communities, and even countries to show their pride in their heritage.

This year, the 2018 FIFA World Cup ( takes place in Russia. Playing for your country in one the oldest international soccer tournaments is the greatest honor any player can have. As a fan of soccer, as well as one who has played the game since I was six years old, I've seen firsthand how soccer culture brings people together.

I have personal experience from two particular moments. The first was six years ago, when I participated in a high school exchange program in Germany. This trip happened to occur during the 2012 European Championships (UEFA Euro 2012). I, along with a few other high school friends, had the opportunity to go to a public viewing of a match between Germany and Greece. The venue of the public viewing was not that of a local pub, but rather at the Olympic Stadium that hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics! The stadium was also home to one of the most distinguished and successful European clubs, FC Bayern München, which is best known for its professional soccer team, and is the most successful professional club in German soccer history, having won a record 28 national titles and 18 national cups.

The second experience was when I got to see Germany play Italy in the semifinals of the tournament. This time, I was with my exchange student and his father. We all dressed in Germany's colors and flags, rooting for the German national football team to win. 

During the game watch, when people heard me speaking English, they took notice and some people even asked to take a picture with me. A small gesture like taking a picture with someone I had not met before, in a foreign country, initially caught me off guard but it allowed me to realize that sporting events bring people together, regardless of background or the country we root for winni.

Not only are there signs of soccer culture at the international level, but there are tremendous efforts to bring the game to our local communities. The city of Philadelphia (or Chester, I should say) has their own Major League Soccer (MLS) club, the Philadelphia Union, which has had success in the domestic Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, taking runner-up two years in a row. The Union gets their name from the era of the American Revolution, when the thirteen original colonies joined together for independence from the United Kingdom.

What’s more, the city of Philadelphia has taken advantage of the game of soccer and expressed their message in the name of the tournament: The Unity Cup. Unity is seen at the international level and even at the local team level. As a team, players play as a united group of men or women and represent whichever country they might be from. The Philadelphia International Unity Cup shows and celebrates the diverse soccer culture the city has among immigrant communities through playing the game.

More information on the Cup can be found at:

We may see even more of Philadelphia’s footprint within soccer culture across the world as well. The United States has not hosted a World Cup since 1994. That is about to change. This year, the international governing body of soccer, FIFA, granted a successful bid on North America to allow the 2026 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Canadian, Mexican, and North American cities. Philadelphia will be one of the cities selected to be a host.

This is an amazing opportunity for people all over the world to exchange not only soccer culture, but perhaps other ideas promoting economic development. From my experiences at Union, FC Bayern games here in the U.S. and also in Germany, I saw the same message: unity.