We've seen the signage. We've heard the speeches. We've seen that ad from that handsome anchorwoman with the strange accent. The message is that this glorious game unites everyone from Wolverhampton to Wuzzleburg in a golden shower of sportsmanship.
If this was true, why would they need to buy advertising time to tell us? And since it's not true, why is FIFA spending so much money to convince us otherwise?
I think it's to convince places like South Africa to spend perfectly good rand on a national humiliation during one of the most poignant holidays on their calendar.
I don't want to sound like a monster, but this is what happens when you link something like Youth Day with a mere sporting event.
And don't tell me it was a random draw - South Africa was seeded in Group A, and the schedule was made around the groups. Sure, a game would have fallen around this date, but it didn't have to be right on the 16th by any means. After all, the other Group A game is tomorrow. Either this holiday was deliberately linked to the second group stage game in order to associate national pride with the national team, or at the very least, the national team saw the holiday as a happy coincidence. They paid the price.
Uruguay's national team has a history of ruining host nation's public holidays, most famously in 1950. You could not have picked a worse opponent if you were hoping for a mixture of Sir Galahad and the Washington Generals.
I also like to think the plastic horns played a role, however tiny. "This is their secret weapon?" I picture Uruguay saying to themselves. "We're Uruguay. We invented the World Cup. We play our road games in Argentina and Brazil. We play our road games at 3,600 meters and under the angry eye of God knows which drug cartels and juntas. Don't even get us started on our home fans and their expectations. And we're supposed to lose our sh*t over a bunch of plastic horns? What are we, schmucks? We don't care how many Nobel Peace laureates are watching, we're going to come out kicking." Or whatever South American Spanish is for "schmucks."
The South Africa players amply deserved the loss, but they should not have been made the lightning rod for South African national pride. They're going to get roasted in coming days, but asking such a landmine of a game to vindicate national feeling was begging for trouble, and trouble obliged.
It's impossible for me to summon sympathy for the goalkeeper who demanded more plastic horn noise, but if I weren't a stone-hearted savage, I'd probably feel bad for South African football hitting its nadir on such an awful call. Reasonable minds may differ - Khune did make "contact" with Suarez, and it was DOGSO, despite the fleas. I'm astounded that a ref in a World Cup would stick a knife into the host country like that, even if it was a truly unquestionable call.
But it didn't change the outcome. Who told South Africa to get themselves shut out? And who told them to quit after the penalty kick? I thought 2-0 was the most dangerous score in soccer.
If Mexico and France oblige the hosts with a draw tomorrow morning, then South Africa still has a chance, although not a glorious one. If France wins, then Les Grenouilles are probably also good enough to officially escort South Africa to the stands. If Mexico wins, then it's all over, since Uruguay and Mexico will almost certainly trot out their bench and arrive at a gentleman's draw.
Realistically, though, the South African taxpayer had the privilege watch some pretty lousy football played in their name and on their dime. It's a good thing the game does so much to bring people together.
Cheer up, South Africa. At least we can all laugh at Spain. NOW who made a stupid pick to win the World Cup? Me, but, a lot of you, too. So, yeah.