THE WORLD CUP
I’m enjoying watching what the rest of the world calls futbol. I like being a citizen of the world while I watch what most of the people in the world who have televisions are watching. The fans in the stadiums seem to have a genuinely good time. Some wear outrageous outfits, face paint and bizarre hats. They chant and sing. They mug for the cameras.
Even some of the “nil to nil” games have enough action to hold my interest. What the players do with their feet is remarkable. I can more or less understand how they get the ball to curve when they kick it, but how do you “bend” a header?
The announcers are more articulate than most sports commentators in the United States. Apparently the players and coaches are treated like celebrities complete with cheesy gossip about their personal foibles and salaries in the tabloid press.
FIFA is noted for corruption but then, so is the Olympic committee that chooses where future Olympic games will be held. Any group with a monopoly tends to believe it is above such trifles as rules and regulations.
The World Cup has many examples of human-interest stories. The until-lately dominating Spanish team lost its first two games and bombed out of the competition. They won the last World Cup. They were favored in this one. The most likely explanation is that the players are past their physical prime in this demanding sport. One of the announcers commented that to be successful the players need, “to suffer.”
At the risk of sounding like I am supporting stereotypes, fans from different countries tend to act differently. After a recent loss to the Ivory Coast team, Japanese fans stayed after the game was over. They cleaned up the entire stadium as a show of support for their team.
One hundred people described as Chilean fans in the news stormed a media center turning furniture over and even knocking down walls apparently attempting to gain entrance without tickets to an arena where Chile was scheduled to play.
A Spanish language newspaper responded to a loss by covering their front page completely in black.
If you have no favorites you might want to choose a team by its nickname.
Do you want a fierce-sounding team? How about The Indomitable Lions? Maybe you want to acknowledge a country’s agriculture. The Coffee Growers would suffice. If neither of those appeal to you, you could support The Socceroos, The Little Hands or even The Pirate Ship.