Ryan and I have been trying to understand the World Cup. Not the rules, mind you. Now, Ryan and I may not be soccer experts, but the offsides rule was not what we were having trouble understanding. We just don’t understand the culture.
Talking to Italians about the World Cup doesn’t help either – we are so far at opposite ends of the earth when it comes to soccer, that we can’t even manage to understand each other. It’s like we speak two completely different languages. (har har)
So, we attended the FifaFanFest in Rome to watch the first Italian game. It was pretty amazing. The place was packed. And it was full of *smart* soccer fans. When the game started, thousands of people got quiet, and sat down to watch the game. There was no beer drinking, or joking, or standing in front of other people. This is serious business. The best part was watching the entire crowd make the same hand motions at the same time when they thought something stupid had just happened.
We plan to continue observing, to see if we can learn some more.
We’ll see what we can learn at the next game, but meanwhile, for your education:
From: Top Ten Annoying things about the World Cup
9. Stoppage time. Why can’t we know how much time is left? Why must it be such a mystery? Whose idea was this? Why do only the refs get to know? Wouldn’t it be more exciting if we all knew? You tell me which is more exciting:
A. “Ten seconds left now! Kaka needs to get a shot off here or it’s over! Five seconds! Kaka wheeling! Two seconds! There’s the shot! And … ”
B. “Well, the ref should be calling this game shortly. A minute or two. Maybe more. Actually, I don’t know. Nigel, do you know? Kaka seems confused. He’s dribbling. Wait. Now he’s stopped to examine a small scab, and well, that’s it. The ref says it’s over. I guess that’s it, then.”
All we get is B. Somebody needs to put some stoppage to stoppage time.
And this is a book Ryan and I have been reading in Italian (you’ll notice some bad-translation remnants). It’s about an Italian who lives in Georgetown for a year, and it happens to be the year when the World Cup was in the US. This link is to the chapter where he explains the differences between Italians and Americans when it comes to soccer.