AP PHOTOS: Soccer transcends elite level as World Cup nears

LONDON (AP) — The World Cup begins this weekend in Qatar and the attention of the soccer world will be on the first Middle Eastern nation to host the tournament.

But football is not only about watching the world’s greatest players compete on the biggest stage. The sport transcends the elite level and is really the people’s game.

Children and adults alike have kickabouts — some in organized matches at the grassroots level and others...

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LONDON (AP) — The World Cup begins this weekend in Qatar and the attention of the soccer world will be on the first Middle Eastern nation to host the tournament.

But football is not only about watching the world’s greatest players compete on the biggest stage. The sport transcends the elite level and is really the people’s game.

Children and adults alike have kickabouts — some in organized matches at the grassroots level and others just for the fun of it on dirt roads and beaches. Wherever they can really.

Some play barefoot or in sandals because they can’t afford the expensive footwear that professionals use.

A boy in Buenos Aires tries to make a save with a huge mural of late Argentina great Diego Maradona on a building in the background. A group of girls in the United States play on a field wearing rainbow-colored socks. Afghan boys dribble on rocky and dusty ground in Kabul.

Ultimately, all you need is a ball and a desire to play the beautiful game.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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