The 2010 FIFA World Cup is upon us. Like the Olympics, this international event occurs every four years. Also like the Olympics, it turns casual fans of the sport(s) played into super big fans. I’ll readily admit that I could care less about soccer, or “football” as everyone else around the world calls it. I don’t follow the Premier League, or MLS, or any other professional football association. I don’t understand transfers and loans and everything else that goes on with Club-level soccer. I don’t really like David Beckham, and cannot tell the difference between Didier Drogba and Thierry Henry. All I do know, however, is that I LOVE the World Cup!
Similar to my lukewarm following of ice hockey, except when the USA meets Canada in the Winter Olympics, I have never really become a fan of soccer. I didn’t play it as a kid like some of my friends, mainly because I didn’t want to run around that much. That’s why I played Little League Baseball instead: periods of inactivity, especially playing the outfield, followed by limited running, even less if you never got on base like I did. Anyway, the World Cup is something different. Maybe it’s because it’s country against country, or the crazy qualification procedures, where the 12th ranked team in the world can fail to qualify but the 91st ranked team can. Maybe it’s the televised “draw” of the teams, leading to getting placed in the dreaded “Group of Death.”
For readers of this blog, you may remember from my list of “101 Things to Do Before I Die” that attending the World Cup was one of them. 2014 in Brazil might be a little unmanageable, but with the United States bidding to host in either 2018 or 2022, maybe I’ll get my chance relatively soon. While I was a little disheartened to see that Salt Lake city was not selected as a host city, even with a fancy “soccer-specific” stadium, it still might end up close enough to see within reason, with host cities including Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle close enough to my future home that a trip would not be unreasonable. Furthermore, with family living in both Phoenix and Bakersfield, CA (though hard to say that in 8-12 years that will remain the case), a place to stay!
So I will watch the World Cup when I can. I will follow it online and root for the United States to do well, or at least better than last time. As I said before, I don’t think I know enough about international soccer to make any bold predictions, but I sure wish I could watch a bit more of the tournament. When it is all said and done a month from now, I’ll probably go back to ignoring soccer for another 4 years, but you never know. Moving back to Salt Lake City and the defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake might make me a fan. We’ll see.