For the love of the game
© Foto-net

The huge range and diversity of opinions about football is an undoubtedly integral part of what makes the game such popular talking point, and it has been key to making FIFA com's 'Have Your Say' series such a roaring success. However, while our normal approach may be to put the cat among the pigeons with a contentious question that sets supporter against fellow supporter in friendly debate, on this occasion we opted to bring those fans same together on the topic that unites us all: the love of football.

Our users certainly didn't disappoint. There were countless passionate and, in some cases, moving tributes to the power of the beautiful game, with South African user shazmal succeeding in summing up perfectly the pure, innocent pleasure that the game can bring.

He wrote: "Football is the highlight of the day! When your team wins there is this immense pleasure that you feel. It is unexplainable. When you are playing the game with friends and you score that goal and celebrate it is wonderful!! It is the distraction from everyday life issues and without it this world would be a sadder place. It cuts across all boundaries of race, religion and nationality and has the power to unite. It is a utopia that the world should be striving towards!! The first world cup in Africa will be representative of the power of football to unite the world under one flag and place a nation at the forefront for all to marvel."

This classless element of a game which brings together the proverbial pauper and king was also stressed by one of our Colombian contributors, who pointed that everyone - regardless of race or background - shares the same dreams and anxieties once their teams take to the field. "Football means anyone, from any walk of life, are united and made equal for 90 minutes by the ball and two goals," wrote Cafeteros720. "No matter how much we earn per year, what language we speak, what passport we carry, what work we do, we can all understand the joy of the ball passing between the posts."

For those who dismiss it as 'just a game', there was also a poignant reminder of football's awesome power for good from a USA-based Ivorian user. As Abdull1979 explained: "Football is the only human experience that can bring all races and religions on the same team all working together for a common goal. It was the main factor in my country, the Ivory Coast, ending its civil war after our qualification for the 2006 World Cup. Football is not a mere sport. Football is humanity's ideal."

Users back Burley
Throughout, comments to this topic were a pleasure to read through, and a timely reminder of the passion that underpins football's status as the world's favourite and most-loved sport.

One nation that typifies this near-obsessive infatuation is Scotland, where hopes are high that a new generation of players can lead the Tartan Army to their first FIFA World Cup since France 1998. Indeed, while many were surprised at the appointment of George Burley to succeed Alex McLeish, who took the Scots to the brink of UEFA EURO 2008, our users expressed confidence in the former Southampton manager's ability to guide his team to South Africa 2010.

"I think Burley is a shrewd choice," wrote the Scottish user demondrink. "He has a proven track record of achievement with scant resources, and his man-management skills are reputedly very good. Qualification is achievable - I don't think the Dutch will have it as easy this time as they did four years ago."

There was also backing from the USA, where SCOGERITA shared the view that the Netherlands are not the overwhelming favourites to top Group 9 that some would suggest. "I think Scotland can easily get to SA and anyone who considers Holland a favourite isn't paying attention to recent performances," the user wrote. "Scotland can beat anyone anywhere and they proved that in Paris last fall. The Netherlands, on the other hand, were having trouble with teams like Romania and Albania and I will personally be surprised if they even secure second place in the qualification group. If Scotland stays on their game, they'll win the group."

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to these topics. For our next debate, your challenge is to decide which of the world's leagues is the most entertaining, so as always, make and have your say.