The world is once again on the eve of another World Cup competition. Thirty-two teams from thirty-two countries fighting to bring home the most coveted prize in soccer – the World Cup trophy.
I love soccer. Yes I know it’s football most everywhere else, but I’m American and we have a different football here, so I call it soccer. I don’t recall when I first started to enjoy the game so much, though I know for certain it was while watching a previous World Cup. Once international soccer games became more widely broadcast, I was able to expand my love to the English Premiere league. One reason why I like soccer so much is due to the constant action – 45 minutes of game time, then 1/2 time, and then 45 more minutes of playing time. No timeouts, stoppage time yes, but no forced stops for tv time outs, or massive delays to figure out if an obvious score was a score. Sure there are boring games, as there are in every sport, and it’s something a fan has to deal with.
So what’s so great about the World Cup you ask. Well it’s the international competition that I so enjoy. Individuals competing in honor of representing their country. Much like the Olympics. How could someone not love that. Then there’s the competition itself. The first rounds, the knockout stages, all leading to one final game to determine the winner.
This World Cup is disappointing for me this year since the U.S. failed to qualify this time. Why still watch the competition if your country isn’t in it? How many times have I watched an Olympic game and found myself rooting for a country other than my own. It’s the spirit of representing one’s own country that provides so much joy. So much passion is put forth when competing for the glory of one’s own country. International competition also brings people together, allowing for an understanding of other cultures and other ideas. Which then allows a better understanding of different parts of the world. It also provides insight into something that may not have been understood before.
The U.S. isn’t in it so who are you rooting for? This time I’m hoping for Iceland, the underdogs who surprised many during the last Euros, and England. One of my closest friends is English and I have a great love for the EPL, so it’s an easy affiliation for me.
If you’re not familiar with soccer and are looking for a team to cheer for if your country isn’t represented this time here’s a few suggestions: Argentina, the greatest player in the world, Messi, in what is most likely his last chance at soccer glory and the chance to shake off the spector of not being “as good” as Maradona. If you want to see a person who needs to win, this may be the team for you.
If you like to root for the most likely winner, there’s Germany. The powerhouse country that has won the cup four times.
If you’re a glutton for self sabatoge, there’s England. Often heralded as “producing the team that’s going to win it this time” England frequently falls to the pressure of their own expectations. Then there’s Iceland, the small, cold country that beat England in shocking fashion at the last Euros. They have the Viking clap, inspiring in its own way.
Of course there’s perennial favorite Brazil. Soccer is in the soul of this country and players are well known for their finesse and skill, not so much their power.
Soccer is a game full of passion and fervent fans. It’s a game of heartbreaking loss and exulant wins. If you’ve never watched before, give the World Cup a try. If, like me, you look forward to every World Cup, I hope this one doesn’t disappoint. And if you just can’t stand soccer, that’s cool. Just understand the next 30 days will be full of soccer dreams. Have patience with the fans. It’s a game we love.