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FIFA President Sepp Blatter Hinted at the Possibility of an Interplanetary World Cup, So We Asked a Harvard Astrophysicist About the Viability of Such an Event

Blatter in space

Blatter in space

Maligned FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been in then news a lot lately for comments that he has made about the World Cup. Usually most statement's Blatter makes are met with outrage, but on Tuesday he mixed things up by eliciting bafflement from the general public when he, for some reason, hinted at the possibility of there being an interplanetary World Cup:

"From north to west to east and south ... and we shall wonder if one day our game is played on other planets and then one day we won't have the World Cup, we will have interplanetary contests."

Also on Extra Mustard: The World Cup Guide for People Who Don’t Watch Soccer

A Space Jam of soccer sounds equally ambitious, amazing and ridiculous. To dig deeper about the viability of such a thing, I reached out to Professor Avi Loeb, who is the chair of the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University, to find out how close we are to having an interplanetary World Cup. His response did not disappoint:

There are a number of obstacles to organizing an interplanetary soccer cup with extraterrestrial (ET) players. First, we need to find planets where there is intelligent life. So far, we have not found evidence for even primitive forms of life on any other planet than the Earth. Second, we need to establish contact with ETs and make sure they are peace-seeking soccer fans and not militant imperialists. The nearest stars are a few light years away, implying that if we send the nearest ETs a question via radio communication, we should not hope to hear back the answer earlier much than a decade later. But lets stay optimistic and suppose that over several decades we are able to agree on the location and time for the soccer competition. We still need to meet the ET teams at that location. With existing propulsion technology, the trip to the nearest stars may take thousands of years. This implies that we cannot simply send our best soccer players on a spaceship. We need to send both male and female ancestors of the players (who will be born thousands of years from now). Finally, we need to make sure that our players are well trained in the environment of the hosting planet; this implies getting used to its surface gravity, its temperature, illumination from the host star, and atmospheric composition. For example, if the atmosphere does not have as much oxygen as on Earth, the players will have to wear special space suits, affecting the quality of their play. Altogether, this entire operation sounds rather complicated for a simple soccer competition, so the FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, should not set our hopes too high that such an event will take place any time in the near future.

To further assert his authority on this matter, here's a photo on Professor Loeb playing soccer:


Case closed. Sorry, Sepp.

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