I have to admit, it has been quite easy to get hooked on The World Cup. Believe it or not, yesterday I actually sat and watched two, yes TWO, entire football matches – Ivory Coast against Colombia and, of course, England against Uruguay. I think that there are a number of factors that make The World Cup so much more accessible to more clueless watchers like me and I can honestly say that I wish this frankly stunning event took place more often than every four years.
Firstly, it is so much easier to grasp the idea of players from a certain country playing for that country’s team. I just can’t keep up with the buying and selling and moving and leaving and joining and contracting and transferring of players and clubs. Not only that, but I think the valuing of players in monetary terms does wonders for their self esteems and makes some players quite detestable. However, Wayne Rooney isn’t going to decide that he doesn’t like England any more and decide that he wants to play for Uruguay (too soon?). For someone that doesn’t keep up to date with the movement of footballers, The World Cup is something that I can easily understand and, as a consequence, enjoy.
Secondly, I don’t feel any loyalty to a particular football team in England. I live near Manchester, so people immediately presume that I must support City or United. I taught English at a primary school in Spain for 8 months this year and while many of them didn’t even know how to say ‘my name is Juan’, I was regularly asked ‘City or United’. I became so bored of saying ‘oh, I don’t really follow football’ that I would just randomly select one of the two as an answer. My Dad would say that he supports Newcastle United, but he certainly isn’t an avid fan and I haven’t been brought up to feel any sort of connection to the team. England, on the other hand, well I obviously I am English and I live in England. Now that is something that I can feel loyalty to and when put head to head against another nation, it’s impossible not to get patriotic.
That leads me nicely onto my third point. The excitement that surrounds The World Cup is difficult to miss and it’s so electric. Shop windows are decorated, cars are driving round with flags waving, I’ve seen countless England t-shirts being worn and, although quite hideous, I’ve seen some fantastically adorned houses with lights, banners and cardboard cut-outs. The way in which the English get behind their team and support them to the bitter end is contagious and makes The World Cup a superb event.
The match last night was surprisingly gripping, right up until the final whistle was blown. I found myself checking twitter, and even tweeting about the game myself, as a way of sharing and fuelling support and when Rooney scored his first World Cup goal I felt extremely proud.
As I sat alone on the sofa at 10pm last night with two empty cider cans, leftover Chinese take-away congealing on my plate, feeling pretty gutted, I realised that I was starting to like football.