2018 World Cup: A Yank’s Obsession #WorldCup

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.

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Football vs. Football

Football vs. Football?  The second football refers to soccer.  I’m  a fan of both, but my interest in soccer has been taking precedence over football the past few years.  I’m getting less and less tolerant of the slow pace of football and can’t stand how a player who has one good game is instantly and forever a hall of famer.

In my morning class today we had to pair up with someone we didn’t know and interview each other in order to introduce the other to the class.  I interviewed a really cool girl who was originally from Albania and has lived in the states for about eight years.  One of the questions asked was “one thing that makes you unique that we’d remember about you.”  My eventual answer was I’m a big soccer fan.  Being a soccer fan in the states is hard.  For some reason American’s just don’t get the appeal of soccer.  This got us talking about what I liked about it, and one of the main reasons I love soccer so much is the passion that the fans have for the game.  American football definitely has its passionate fans, but soccer is different – soccer is in a person’s soul.  Soccer can be the life blood of some countries.  Didier Drogba, an player from the Ivory Coast who had great success on the EPL team of Chelsea, made a successful plea for peace when his country qualified for the 2006 World Cup, resulting in the first cease-fire after five years of civil war.  How can you deny the power of soccer when a country will stop fighting just for the World Cup?

My love for soccer has grown over the years.  I started out watching the international competitions.  The excitement of watching a country fight for a win was addictive.  I then started watching the English Premier League – considered to be one of the best soccer leagues in the world.  I love hearing the fans sing their team’s songs and the passion behind it was riveting.  I also love the constant action of soccer – two 45 minute halves with no time outs.  Yes there is stoppage time, there are times when players pretend a hit on the leg was worse than it seemed, and there are the habitual divers which drive you mad.  But the passion of the game is something that is undeniable, even through a T.V. screen.  About four years ago my husband and I were in England for a vacation and visiting a friend.  The 2010 World Cup was going on at the time and being in a county where soccer is loved was such a good feeling.  Being able to go to a pub and have the game on – and no was talking during the game! – was incredible.  Such a different experience from watching football here in the states where I avoid going to bars to watch a game since there is so much noise to distract you.

I’ll still watch American football – Green Bay being my favorite team since I’m a Wisconsinite – but soccer is my preferred version of football to watch.  Here’s to hoping the US can manage a win this Tuesday and qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil!  What are your thoughts on soccer?  Ever been to an international game?