FK the Italians

by LaTisha Conto

I’ve fallen in love with a sport. Soccer. Soccer and I have had a slow, steady woo fest since World Cup 2006. My pal Kristen and I pulled Ale Mania (pet name) in the work lottery. I don’t remember how much money they won us, third place, not bad. (Expletive, curse, swear, double finger flip off, spit on the ground ITALIANS!!!!!) Like I was saying- I don’t remember the cash reward for third place – (Expletive, sob, fist to forehead, double finger- double shake flip off spit on the ground, twice, ITALIANSSSSSSSSSpit!!!!!!) But I remember falling in love. Zie Germans! ‘Fraid of zie Germans!

Dear Mr. Klose,

I am writing this to you,

And I hope that you will read it so you know,

My heart beats like your anthem,

And I can not quite imagine,

How much strength you have in one little pinky toe….

I guess I’m just another fan of yours,

And I thought I’d write and tell you so.

Okay, I’ll spare you the rest of my Judy Garland rip off, but Soccer did. It made me love, well… It!

Now anyone who knows anything about sweet little me knows this: If I love something, I must tell the world why I love it and why they must must must love it too! I would do a count down, but in honor of Futbol, I will count up. And speaking of counting up…..

  1. The time starts at zero and goes up. It’s brilliant! Why must everything be a countdown? Basketball. Countdown. Football. Countdown. New Years Eve. Countdown. “Countdown to the Olsens turning 18.” Countdown with Keith Olberman. Boring! Futbol counts up. It’s exciting. I feel like it’s seeing the sweat on a shirt; we understand how hard the players have been working. If Neuville looks tired, we can quickly glance at the clock and understand that he has been playing for 68 minutes. It just sounds better than two quarters, or a half.
  2. Extra time. It’s like Christmas morning! How much extra time will there be? What did grandma get me this year? Four minutes! How in the (sounds like swell, opposite of heaven) can there be four minutes of extra time!!!!!! Sometimes it’s a good thing. If you’re playing the (Expletive, pull hair out, stomp foot, strangle hold the air in front of you ITALIANS!!!!!!!!!!) it is not. But, like it or not, it is indeed a wonderful surprise to look forward to at the end of the game. It has simultaneously broken and mended the hearts of millions around the globe. (minus the u.s.)
  3. The fans. Fanatics. Frenzied freaking out of their mind beautiful adoring fans! Fans that will sell everything they own to get to stand outside of the stadium at a game and watch their country play on a projector. Fans that will drink thousands of gallons of beer in one sitting. Fans that will actually repeat medical school if it means they have to miss a final exam to see their team play in tournament final. Fans that, while I don’t condone violence, will beat the piss (I mean this as the English do) out of their friend if they might be passing out during the pivotal final moments of a match. They cry with each other. Fight with each other. Kiss each other. Love each other. It is the most beautiful spectacle in sport. To see that kind of passion for your countrymen is a rare and startling triumph of mankind.
  4. Hotter than should be legal men, doing something so well, with a not oft seen enthusiasm and passion. It’s too much! To watch Zidane in all his beauty while   Christiano cries on the grass at the feet of the great  Ballack, who is being embraced by the crowd. It is similar to what I imagine it was like to witness the first production of Colonus. Strength, passion and beauty. Okay, I must move on or this is going to turn into a romance novella….
  5. Everything about Futbol is superbly cute! The way the refs run around in their cute shorts holding up yellow and red cards, letting players know that they find their behavior inappropriate. Futbol players, save the Italians, always look neat clean. The field always looks pretty and well-groomed. The fans—well they dress in bright colors—it isn’t always tidy, but it is pretty. Futbol players walk out onto the field holding the hands of small children. While I don’t enjoy small children, I do enjoy the softness of the pregame ritual. No running out of the tunnel like maniacs, no harsh music, no crazy faced athletes screaming at each other to get pumped up. No, just a bit of stroll to the field to hear the anthems. It’s so refreshingly docile.
  6. The wall. The line up. Anytime a player gets a free kick- or fk- the team lines up, arms linked in front of the ball to act as a human shield. The goalie tells them, very politely “more to the left, no the right, no left, left.” And the line just keeps moving inch by inch left and right until the goaltender decides they are properly lined up. It looks like a rousing game of red rover. So cute! And selfless! They will literally take a ball to the head just so that their goalie doesn’t have to make a crazy save. Free kicks are also cute because when they call it against your team (which probably means you are playing the SPITALIANS) you get to scream out in your best Irish Accent: OH FK!
  7. Speaking of FKs. Penalty kicks are by far the most exciting, if not excruciating, end to a match. I don’t want to be the person who compares natural disasters and penalty kicks but… for anyone who knows and loathes me, I am. When people are stuck in a community storm shelter waiting out a tornado, they bond. When people are stuck in a bar together waiting for 10 penalty kicks to go off, they bond too. It just happens. We cry, they cry. We hug, they hug. They exchange photos of loved ones, we buy each other beers. We come together as humans in a moment of extreme pressure; they come together as humans in a moment of extreme pressure. I made the comparison, out loud. Sue me.
  8. Trading jerseys! In what other sport do you ever see a grown man walk up to another man and ask to trade jerseys? It’s the most breathtaking act of sportsmanship imaginable. The respect shown between players on teams with the most heated of rivalries is to be marveled at. It is, I believe, the most useful for the term bittersweet. I love to imagine the sports rooms in the homes of these players. In forty years they will be able to tell their grandchildren about the days they played against the great Zidane, Ballack and Ronaldo. “Is that really his jersey, papa?” “Yes, Maria, he gave it to me off his back.” AWW.

I want to cast my vote for Futbol as a replacement for Baseball as the nation’s pastime. It’s past the time of Baseball. If you play a professional sport in which you can eat while the game is going on, I have to say you should be put out to pasture on ESPN2 with Bowling, Billiards and drag racing. Viva Futbol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I don’t want this blog to come across as a complete predilection on my part. I have two problems with Futbol:

  1. Players should never have to walk up 69 steps to receive their medals after playing ninety odd minutes of Futbol.
  2. (Expletive, curse, kicking up dirt with angry foot, throw myself on the ground, spitting, stomping the ground, Verb verb, descriptive noun, curse, curse, hands strangling the air, twisting and flailing my body, spit, spit, sob, curse, expletive, swear THE….. GO*DA^*MO*^ER#^CKINGCHEATINGBA*%^RDITALIANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SPIT…….