Scattered Thoughts and Memories of the World Cup
I've been wanting to write something about the World Cup, but the never ending cycle of bad news emerging from almost every part of the world, and the Middle East in particular, has made me avoid a topic that appears so superficial in the face of such misery. But I also realize that going on with one's life, enjoying a soccer game or an ice cream cone doesn't mean that one has forgotten about these events, or that one has belittled them. So, with all the games I've been watching these days, it seems like I have to dedicate one post to an event that is truly universal in nature.
So when was the first time I actually became aware of this international tournament?
Apparently during the 1994 World Cup when I had just turned 10 years old (just finished 3rd grade). We spent that summer in Jordan, so the atmosphere was definitely intense. As usual, we were staying with my mom's family, who are die-hard Brazilian fans. The final game was between Italy and Brazil, who tied 0-0 until it came time for penalty kicks. Of course this is a very stressful situation, with my grandfather and uncles slamming fists and throwing hands up in the air, but in the end it was worth it because Brazil beat Italy 3-2.
I remember that within minutes the dark streets were filled with fans cheering, honking horns, and waving Brazilian flags. Needless to say, not many people slept that night. It was very exciting to be on the winning team! As I was rummaging through old boxes of stuff the other day, I found a picture of me that was taken during that summer of 1994. On the back of the picture, I had written this:
Ironically, my dad hadn't come with us to Jordan that summer and he was in the US where the games were hosted. As you can see, my knowledge of this game wasn't that great; how many World Cups did I think there were?! LOL, I think those were my fobbish years :)
I also remember the 1998 World Cup, where on the night of the final game, we were again in Jordan but this time at my paternal grandparents' house. I can't remember if all of them were fans of one team or another, but I think that even though it was between France & Brazil, the fact that Zinedine Zidane was playing made many people cheer for the French. In any case, I don't remember that it was a big deal in Jordan because most are fans of Brazil.
In 2000, I became obsessed with the European Football Championship, watching as many games as I could and collecting pictures of the players from the Internet, newspapers, and magazines. I memorized their names and their numbers, and I think the Italians and Portugese were my favorites.
Finally, when the World Cup was held in 2002, I basically didn't even know it was going on! Why? Because I didn't go to Jordan that summer. I spent that summer here in the suburbs of good ol' Washington DC where not many people gave two flips about the games.
So, the real question is, where does my loyalty lie? My familial roots say I should cheer for the Green and Yellow Brazilians. In 2000, I grew attached to Figo and Del Piero.
This year, I found myself cheering for the underdog at times, and for the favorites at other times. I cheered for the Germans and the English, I relished in the Argentinian sweep over the Serbs, I wanted Iran to win, I leaned toward Croatia against Brazil and Tunisia against Saudi. I felt bad for the Americans when they got a "reality Czech" early on, but today, I rooted for them with all my heart. If it was against another team, I probably would've been with Italy. But I felt compelled to root for my American boys and because they really put a lot into today's game. They got elbowed and kicked out, but they kept on fighting, and I liked that!
So the bottom line is: I don't know! I can say that I'm not a die-hard fan of any team yet, and I like it better that way because it will save me the heartbreak and stress, and try to enjoy each game on its own merit. But I might change my mind, so I'll try to keep you updated.
As for watching the games on ART, I'm loving the Arabic commentary by the Tunisian guy but I really don't like the Syrian, Egyptian, and Khaleeji guys. The Syrian guy keeps saying "na3am" too much, like an Arabic cartoon: "na3am, huwa tasalul, na3am". I like the Tunisian guy's accent and the fact that he has so much knowledge of the game and its history; he sounds like a soccer encyclopedia! I haven't heard any of the games with English commentary; I think it would be too boring. The ART studio looks like it's stuck in the 80's, and the Khaleeji guy with the big hair is just wrong! You'd think they made enough money to set up a really nice state of the art studio, but I guess they've just proved again how greedy they are. Oh well.
That's all for now folks, enjoy the games :)
[technorati tags: sports,world cup, soccer, football, Jordan, Brazil, Italy]