Why I love the World Cup

June 24, 2010 By: erik Category: Musings, Soccer 404 views

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World Cup 2010 South AfricaI enjoy watching soccer. Aside from the occasional beautifully executed maneuver, however, soccer, like all sports, is boring as hell if you don’t care who wins. My biggest problem with soccer is mustering enough energy to care who wins. I did a better job this past year following the Spanish Liga, choosing allegiance with the local team, Racing Santander, even reading the sports newspaper, Marca, in a bar at least once a week. But the effort required to keep up with player trades, injuries, and rumors is more than a little exhausting…all in an attempt to generate some emotional attachment to teams or players.

When it comes to the World Cup, however, it’s not football clubs, it’s entire countries competing! Having been an expatriate for a decade now, I have plenty of emotions about countries. I’ve met someone from most of the counties competing in the World Cup, and some of them are still friends I’m in contact with. That emotional connection makes the World Cup matches much more important to me than the average Liga game.

As I write this, all four countries I’ve called home, USA, Denmark, England, and Spain are still in it. Hand me my vuvuzela and let’s watch some soccer!!

  • I think you have hit on why I cannot get into sports in general much less world cup soccer; I just don’t care who wins.

  • I had no problem getting into following the fíºtbol when I was living in Argentina, when the team I chose (quite randomly) to support was called Racing — does the first word in your local team’s name rhyme with ‘massing’? I would certainly be excited about this World Cup if I had a spare second — do they have to schedule it to coincide with final exams?

    • Racing sounds like “rah-theeng” in Castilian Spanish. Why the heck they chose that English word for various fíºtbol clubs is a mystery to me. They do the weird English theft for other teams, too, like Athletic Bilbao. It must be related to soccer’s spread from England and Britons setting up clubs around Europe.

  • KP

    Best. Sporting. Event.

    There’s nothing else like it – because all you need is a ball, some skills, and you can dream. (If you’re male, of course.) And you get a sense of a country by how it plays. Italy’s melodramatic dives. France’s stubborn (and embarrassing) whines. Portugal’s sly manipulation. Switzerland’s even-keel.

    I agree that you can support all the countries you’ve lived in – totally fair. Though you might only have the US left after Sunday night.

    Do you have the “Annoying Football Horns” iPhone vuvuzela app? It’s a favorite at our house.

    • This is just a hunch, but I think that the intersection of subset of people who have room for an Annoying Football Horns iPhone app in their lives and the people who have small children in their house is fairly minute.

  • It occurs to me after a day of thought on this subject that the same reason the World Cup is so important to me is the same reason that NCAA sports are so popular in the US. Just as I know someone from most of the competing countries, every American knows a couple alumni from the various NCAA universities, and it’s that emotional connection that makes the sports interesting. More so than trying to care about the millionaires playing in the professional sports leagues.

  • The reason I can get interested in international football but not the domestic scene is simple. Supporting England means something, because the team really represents your country. If you support Manchester United or whoever, the chances that any of the players or the manager have anything to do with the place in which they’re based is pretty small (unless you go down to the lower leagues); players are drafted in from the four corners of the globe and may not even speak that country’s language, let alone have a local accent. “Manchester United” is now just a brand name, not a description of the team.