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You and I aren’t all that different. We both spent a summer month back in 2006 getting caught up in the fervor of World Cup soccer. We were impressed by the traditions and histories. We learned the players’ names and styles. We were enchanted by the beauty and fluidity of the game. We made a promise—that starting right then—we’d become soccer fans.
Then it ended. Italy beat France. All we did was talk about the head butt and make jokes about Zidane being a cyborg. We abandoned our lofty goals of adopting an international passion and instead resumed our more provincial pursuits like watching baseball and drinking light beer. Instead of occupying prime real estate in our conscious, soccer returned to the ghetto of our brain, that space reserved for things we are fully aware of, but actively choose to ignore—crap like Twillight movies, “Icing” bros and a majority of our family members.
Now, with World Cup 2010 set to begin, we may be regretting our broken vow. With seemingly everyone and their mother spouting out futbol facts and analysis, we, the people who don’t know a goddamn thing about soccer (or give a rat’s ass about it except for now), are suddenly outnumbered by the foreign hoards that worship dudes with singular names and call fields “pitches.” But don’t despair. I’ve developed a primer for how people like you and I can fit in with the crowds the next few weeks. Think of it as a survival guide—it won’t make you a real expert, but it will get you through World Cup soccer undetected until sanity and serenity resumes so we can all go back to watching baseball and drinking light beer.
I don’t expect you to know all the players’ names. Or teams. Chirst, there’s even like 20 different positions on a soccer team, and to you and I they all look like they’re doing the same friggin’ thing—chasing a ball. Actually knowing about soccer is quite difficult. But you can get by with just sounding like a soccer fan—and that’s easy—just drop the c-word a lot.
I know using that particular epithet here in the colonies is a bit of a taboo, but trust me, the English use it all the time. To them it’s a synonym for American colloquialisms such as “dude” or “buddy” or “guy.” And when it comes to sounding like a genuine soccer fan, there’s no better example than a Brit. Think about it, every stereotypical soccer fan has a British accent—that’s no mistake.
So if a player makes a bad pass—call him a c-word. Scores a goal—call him a magnificent c-word. Good or bad, anytime you let out a guttural roar and then call some dude a c-word, the guy next to you in the bar will put down his pussy-ass Bud Select 55 and think to himself, “That dude is serious about his soccer.”
Now that we got you talking like a soccer fan, we need to get you looking like one. Forget the whole Uncle Sam hat or draping the flag over your shoulders. Those are moves only newbs will try to pull off. Plus, wearing a flag all day becomes quite cumbersome. It’s bound to drag on the ground or get desecrated during you Bacchanalian World Cup revelry, and the only thing worse than being exposed as a fake soccer fan is being exposed as a flag-hating hippie. So respectfully leave the flag on the pole where it belongs, because all you need to do to look the part of a hardcore soccer fan is to acquire these three articles of clothing: a jersey, a scarf and a bandanna.
First—the jersey. Don’t go running off to Niketown to buy a new one. Those run like a C-Note and real fans will notice the lack of beer and blood stains and call you out. Instead, pick up a Hanes t-shirt, draw the logo of your team on the left breast, and then, with masking tape, apply the name and number of your favorite player (guy ESPN.com says is the team’s best player). If anyone gets suspicious, tell them that you do it this way so you can constantly change players from game to game because, “Those c-words have to earn the right to have their names on my back.” The accusing party will instantly back-off and tell his friends while pointing in your direction, “That c-word is serious about his futbol.”
The scarf is another quintessential piece of soccer garb. I’m not sure where you find one with your team’s name on it, perhaps Wal-Mart. But if you can’t locate one, make your own following pretty much the same process as stated above. The key thing with the scarf is to stand in a high traffic area (like a bar or busy sidewalk) and hold it taut above your head while pivoting at your hips as to proudly display it to anyone within sight of you. For good measure, call everyone not holding a scarf similar to yours a c-word.
As for the bandanna, pretty straight forward. Wear it like your robbing a train.
OK, so you’re almost there. You got your makeshift jersey, stupid ass scarf and a bandanna—congrats, you look like a soccer fan. You’re calling everyone a c-word—awesome. But those things are just the sizzle. To truly fit in with these people, you’re going to need some steak.
But as we’ve already established, you and I don’t know jack crap about this game. We can’t even explain how offsides really works, so there’s no chance in hell we’re going to be able to speak eloquently on the topic of Argentina’s midfield. So what are you to do? Go online and read scouting reports for hours? Repeat the analysis you see on ESPN or read in the paper? Eff that noise. You don’t have time for that. You got makeshift uniforms and scarves to make son.
Instead, you can use a full proof method I’ve developed for making it seem like you have an original and informed analysis on a particular squad. I call it “Dictator Transference.” First, you pick a country you want to “analyze.” Next, think of that country’s most notorious dictator (or in England or America’s case the king/president who was the biggest dickhead—so lets say Henry VIII and Andrew Jackson). Then give all that dictator’s traits to his country’s team. So if you pick North Korea, you’ll take Kim Jong Il’s characteristics–insane, mysterious, short, false-sense of superiority–and apply them to the North Korean team. So it’ll come out looking something like this:
North Korea is a small and pretty unpredictable team. They crazily think they can hang with the superpowers, but they’ll get crushed if they try to push them too much—so it’s just best if they try to hang back and play it safe—which they won’t–given their history.
Or take the Germans for example:
The Germans are ultra-conservative and methodical to a fault. They’re unflappable—unless they play a team of Jews and gypsies—at which point they’ll let their emotions get the best of them.
Doesn’t that sound totally legit? Of course it does. No one will dare question hard-hitting commentary such as that.
It’s that easy my soccer-agnostic friends. No following multiple leagues, no studying scouting reports, no learning the game’s fundamentals, and best of all, no investing any time whatsoever into this mysterious sport. So don’t feel bad about breaking that promise you made to yourself back in ’06. You didn’t need to follow soccer these past four years to enjoy the next month of matches, all you need for a great World Cup experience is a little arts and crafts time, multiple, well-placed c-bombs and an 8th-grader’s understanding of world history. Sure, it may seem disingenuous or against the very spirit of the game. It’s very likely insulting to the millions of true and loyal soccer fans. And if you are exposed as a fake, chances are you’ll be reviled and shunned by the soccer community. But just remember this: it’s soccer—and you (just like me) don’t really give a crap.