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    The crowning achievement in soccerthat is, football, asknown everywhere outside the United Statesculminates every 4years when 32 countries come together to play in the FootballWorld Cup. To gain the privilege of competing in the World Cup,the

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    Sfashioned nationalism, which can be admirable, but which alsocan become extreme. In 1969, after El Salvador played Honduras,the war known as the Soccer War broke out between the twonations and left more than 4000 dead. When Algeria beat Egypt


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    23nal 32 teams rst competed against other countries in re- 1-0 in a hotly contested playoff game to determine who would go

    reviations and AcronymsNS: World Federation of Neurological Societies

    From the Division of Neurological Surgery, St. Josephs Hospital andMedical Center, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

    hom correspondence should be addressed: Volker K. H. Sonntag, M.D.ail:]

    Citation: World Neurosurg. (2010) 74, 2/3:234-238.DOI: 10.1016/j.wneu.2010.08.019

    Journal homepage:

    Available online:

    1878-8750/$ - see front matter 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    4 WORLD NEUROSURGERY, DOI:10.1016/j.wneu.2010.08.019e World Cup and WORLD NEUROSURGERYlker K. H. Sonntag


    occer is called the beautiful game for the elegant way itcan be played, the beauty of precise passing, and the daz-zle created by the phenomenal control players have when

    bbling or receiving a ball. It is also a beautiful game because itphasizes the team as much as the individual. It creates a bondong its players that is close to brotherhood. It is the mostyed and watched game in the world followed by nearly everyson, every country, and every continent.he real beauty of soccer, however, is that it levels the playing

    ld. It is the tabula rasa of sports. It is played by the rich and theor, by the elite and the nonelite, by capitalists and socialists. It

    be played on a well-mown lawn in a stadium that seats,000 people, or it can be played on a sandlot, a beach, a streetner, or a patch of grass. It can be played with an expensive,hnologically advanced ball or not with a ball at all. An old shirthtened in a ball-like shape will do, or a soda can, or a newspa-

    tied into a ballanything close enough to round to kickut. The goals can be expensive, made of posts, crossbars, ands as seen on manicured elds in many stadiums, but two eldes, a couple of large rocks, or two shoes can also serve as a

    al. Most importantly, the beauty of the beautiful game is that itbe played by everyone with two feet. Height is not a require-

    nt or even an advantage except maybe for heading the large or heavy or having a wide arm span is two feet and an object to kick, the beautiful game can beyed.Volker K. H. Sonntag, M.D.Vice Chairman, Division of Neurological Surgery

    Chief, Spine SectionDirector of Neurosurgery Residency Program and Spine Fellowship

    Barrow Neurological Institute

    nal play. Almost every country in the world participates. Afterears of elimination play, the 32 teams converge for 1 month ination that also has competed for the honor of hosting therld Cup. The 32 teams are divided into 8 groups based on theirking and by lottery. Each group is made up of four teams thaty each other, with the top two teams advancing to play ingle-elimination games until a champion is crowned.


    e performance of a team in the World Cup tournament inu-es the cultural and social makeup of countries and is also

    ked to politics. When Brazil failed to win a World Cup, thevernment launched an investigation. The failure of the Neth-ands to win the cup in 1974 and 2010 were dening moments int nations modern history. In his study entitled Brilliant Orange,Dutch doctor, David Winer, wrote, The defeat in 1974 is thegest trauma that happened to the Netherlands in the 20thntury apart from its oods of 1953 and World War II. Whenst Germany upset Hungary in the 1954 nal, David Cohn-nedict, the former French radical and now member of theropean Parliament, told the New York Times the following: Af-1945 the Germany identity was broken, and there were twongs that rebuilt it: one was economic growth and the other was1954 football championship. For the rst time the Germans

    re recognized in the world for a nonaggressive achievement.occer is passionate, political, and patriotic. It fosters old-

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    community together. The WFNS fosters friendship, relationships,and an exchange of knowledge and ideas. As in soccer, there alsois atheyeaandacarakSeo








    WOhere are numerous other examples of World Cup fever. Whenlian auto workers were told that they could not watch therld Cup on the job, they went on strikeconveniently 30nutes before game time. German companies set up ofce view-areas to keep employees from defecting on game days. As antry, Brazil shuts down when their team plays; with busi-ses and schools closed and elective surgeries delayed, so Bra-

    ians can watch the game on TV. The World Cup is the worldsst watched sporting event, and it is probably fortunate that iturs only once every 4 years considering its negative effect onductivity. It is estimated that the German economy (Europes

    gest) loses about $8 billionor about 0.27% of the grossmestic productduring the 1 month that the tournament isd. Surveys in Britain predicted output losses of $1.5 billion to.3 billion during the month of the tournament.

    ther countries have acknowledged the popularity of therld Cup. In the Netherlands, the entire countrys quitting times moved unofcially forward to 1 PM on a Friday when thetch knocked Brazil out of the quarter nals in 2010. World Cupes are entertaining, important, and emotionalespecially

    people who have played and loved this game and for the manyndships it has helped create. The World Cup brings the globalmunity together as no other sport or nonsport event except

    ybe the Olympics.


    casual glance, the parallels between soccer and neurosurgeryy not be obvious, yet they are there. Both endeavors requirers of training and dedication to develop the appropriate skillserform successfully. In both elds, a prepared mind and bodyneeded, often combined with luck, to obtain a favorable

    tcome. Success in both elds requires a certain amount ofdence, a can-do attitude, and endurance. Both endeavorsply rely on a team approach. The neurosurgeons successends not only on his or her individual surgical skills but alsothe skills of nurses, anesthesiologists, radiologists, fellows,idents, and colleagues. Likewise, in soccer, success dependsthe skills of each individual playing in concert as a team.ailuresa loss in a game or a postoperative complicationalso experienced by practitioners in both elds. These failuresuld be used as a platform for improvement, however. The loss

    the complication should be analyzed and studied to prevent ailar occurrence. Both elds also offer the thrill of victoryoneld or in the operating roomthe reward for many years of

    ining, preparation, and discipline. The rush and excitement ofring a goal parallel the satisfaction of performing a successfulrosurgical operation in a patient with a complex, challenginggical condition.


    ilar to the World Cup, the World Federation of NeurosurgeryFNS) also meets every 4 years, bringing the global neurosurgeryRLD NEUROSURGERY 74 [2/3]: 234-238, AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2certain sense of competition. As for the World Cup, the site ofWFNS meeting is chosen from many competitive bids severalrs before the actual event. The site is chosen for its local hostattractions and for what it can do to enhance neurosurgical

    demics and collegiality. Past sites have included Boston, Mar-ech, Sydney, and Amsterdam. The next meeting will be inul.he ofcial journal of WFNS is WORLD NEUROSURGERY. AsWorld Cup brings together the best soccer teams from sixtinents, WORLD NEUROSURGERY is the forum for neurosur-y across the six continents. The mission of the journal is toablish an exchange of neurosurgical knowledge, practice, andhnology through contemporary and innovative journalisticmunication for the global community. The World Cup acts as

    inspiration and catalyst for soccer players and fans. WORLDUROSURGERY is an intellectual catalyst for the eld of neuro-gery. The World Cup brings together not only 32 countriesticipating in the event but the entire global community watch-the beautiful game. The 2006 World Cup was seen in 214ntries and territories with a cumulative viewership of 26 bil-

    n people. Similarly, WORLD NEUROSURGERY acts as a forumglobal communication for the specialty of neurosurgery byluding scientic, clinical, educational, social, economics, cul-al, and political contributions. Soccer is the closest thing thatre is to a global language and currency. Certainly, it is aifying forceprobably the largest unifying force in the world.e WFNS meeting every 4 years unies the worlds neurosurgi-community, andWORLD NEUROSURGERY is the platfo