The World Cup Shows the Ubiquity of English

I’ve been enjoying the World Cup for the past three weeks—while still getting all of my work done, of course. One thing that has been really neat is seeing the diverse cultures communicating. I imagine the players and referees could play without words (we’ll let them keep whistles and hand-signs), but very frequently players verbally plead for calls and the ref explicitly announces situations to players. The on-field interactions seem to be in English.

When Paraguay, coached by an Argentinian, played Spain, coached by a Spaniard, they were officiated by a Guatemalan, Costa Rican, Honduran, and Mexican; I’d guess everyone spoke Spanish. But the situation gets more complicated if we look at when Paraguay (native Spanish speakers) played Japan (native Japanese speakers) with refs from Belgium (official languages are Dutch, French, and German). My lip-reading skills are admittedly amateur, but I perceived English. This has been the case throughout the tournament. Now, I’m glad that I focused on furthering my English skills instead of futilely learning a foreign language because everyone speaks English. The World Cup taught me so :–)

So, when and how are players from all of the world learning English well enough to communicate with other similarly diverse English-speakers? When did this start? Because Maradona, an old school footballer, interviews in Spanish using a translator.