FIFA Feevah & Treason

So World Cup Soccer is well underway. Someone from the UK or Europe or somewhere made a comment last week to the effect that we North Americans wouldn’t understand what a big deal the World Cup is. Which is a fair enough comment since they know soccer isn’t a national sport like it is in a lot of other countries. But the commenter has obviously never been to Canada during World Cup.

I don’t know what it’s like in the US these days, but in this country there are soccer flags flying from every other car, hanging in office cubicles, draped in livingroom windows. People are walking around in soccer jerseys. FIFA stuff is being sold everywhere, people are following the scores all day at work, soccer is the topic of conversation. Soccer icons are de rigueur for Facebook profile photos. The CBC is broadcasting soccer, soccer and soccer. And even I, who had little interest in the Olympics and will occasionally go to a live sporting event, but will  almost never watch sports on TV, have always managed to get excited about the World Cup.

It’s infrequent enough and international enough to attract my interest. And it’s a sport I can understand — with outfits that are really cute.

The interesting and somewhat contentious thing about World Cup Soccer and Canada, however, is that Canadians don’t seem to care that their country isn’t represented. And some nationalistic types are a more than a little peeved about this. They don’t like to see us flying the English, German, Brazilian, French, Spanish, Argentinean, Dutch or other international flags. They think, if we have to fly a foreign flag, we should fly a Canadian flag at the same time. Or, they say – considering Canada Day is coming up, it’s almost treasonous to be flying other flags.

“Oh well,” I say. If we were teaching our kids to play competitive soccer, we might actually have a team of our own to root for. Meanwhile, we’re rooting for what? Teams that represent the country of our ancestors? Teams whose mad soccer skilz we admire? Teams who have the hottest players?

Why are you crazy for World Cup Soccer? Who are you rooting for, and why? And does it make you feel less than patriotic?

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41 responses to “FIFA Feevah & Treason

  1. I love world wide sporting events like the World Cup. But usually, I’d claw my eyes out if I was forced to watch a professional soccer match and that includes the British Premier League.

    I’m rooting for the USA of course but I’d love to see someone like Paraguay or another small country win it all.

  2. Okay, if I understand this correctly, some Canadian Nationalist-types think it is treasonous to wave the flag of some foreign country playing in the world Cup. So, instead of appearing treasonous, one should appear insane by waving the Maple Leaf for a team that isn’t even there?

    Why that is as ingenious as my showing up at an ice hockey game wearing a T-shirt supporting a rugby team (which I have done)? It’s great to confuse people.

  3. I had a post written about this very thing – but yours is better (and most of my readers apparently don’t care about soccer).
    Really, it isn’t any different than flying a Leafs or Habs flag (or a Sens, but I don’t see many of them!) I amuse myself by trying to identify all the flags on the cars and seeing which teams/countries are the most popular.
    We are not really a flag flying nation (as is some other one to the south) except on special occasions, so maybe this is where the negative attitude comes from?

  4. *snort* – love the tags! 4-0
    BTW, apparently some wag in Australia has decided that they are now all New Zealanders and should support their neighbour since the All Whites (NZ) are doing so much better than the Socceroos (AUS).

    I have a soft spot for Ghana, I want one of their flags.

  5. Love that link, Sean! 🙂

    While I’ve enjoyed playing soccer up until my mid 20’s…I find it extremely boring to watch. 90-minute games….just to end up nil-nil?

    Huh…let the rest of the world have soccer. We master hockey…that’s all that matters.

  6. gah – so boring. except i do love the dramatics when a player gets “hit” and rolls around near deaths door until he realizes nobody is watching, nobody is going to get a penalty, and he pops up again, ready to play.

  7. Sean – Maybe that’s why I like it? I like to watch baseball, too and it’s pretty damn boring. Thanks for the link.

    Dr. Monkey – You need to go watch a thousand teams of 10-year-old playing soccer if you want to see something really grueling.

    LGS – Ha ha. I guess they think we ought to either just ignore the World Cup altogether or fly the maple leaf along with whatever team we’re supporting – just so everyone understands that we’re really rooting for Canada through this strange foreign team.

    Violetsky – You need to hang around Ottawa during hockey season before the Sens get eliminated and you’ll see nothing but Sens flags, clothes, stickers, banners, etc., etc. Or my nephew’s bedroom (in Niagara). He’s been a huge Sens fan forever and thought I was the coolest person in the universe when I moved to Ottawa. Anyway, I guess the negative attitude is from people who want to stop seeing Canada as a cultural mosaic and want us to stop all this multiculturalism and buckle down to being Canadians. I guess, in a way, they have a point because this country is already so divided on so many levels – although we were all Canadians during the Olympics, weren’t we?

    Friar – We master hockey, eh? Didn’t we just get our butts whooped? Anyhooo, maybe we’re just not playing soccer properly. Soccer doesn’t seem to be boring in other countries.

    Meanie – But the shorts? Don’t you love the little shorts and knee socks?

    LGS – South Korea, eh? I don’t think you even need to know how well they play if they represent good eats.

  8. love, love, love the world cup. it’s just so exciting and the level of play is mind blowing. how can a 90 minute game without any score NOT be exciting! it’s all about anticipation.

    the hubby is german, so we cheer for them. but i am also cheering for ghana because they are playing so wonderfully. and how awesome would it be for an african team to win!

    side note: i used to go to all of the expos games when i was a teen. loved baseball. then i started playing rugby and soccer and realised how incredibly boring baseball was!

  9. Love the tags!

    I have to say I’ve followed and supported the Dutch team at the World Cup for years. Now I get to do it with some of my friends of Dutch heritage which is great.

    Not really sure how it started, but I think in part it was because they wear Orange.

    I personally think it’s great that we can have people from sorts of background support their teams and not have to get too nationalistic about it.

    It’s interesting to read John Doyle’s book “The world is a ball” as he has interesting stories about watching soccer in multicultural Toronto.

    His stories of people getting together and watch games are great. Highly recommend it. It got me even more excited to watch the World Cup this year.

    Also I’m half kiwi so I’m enjoying the fact that they made it and seemed to be playing pretty well.

    I loathe the way Italians play soccer…..

  10. I do not watch soccer/football but I like when it is FIFA time. It means I have to brush up on my flag identification. Everyone becomes nutty watching the games. My neighbor stuck a little sign on his shirt one morning for work saying “DON’T talk about the game today – PVR’d it”.

  11. Sports bore the heck out of me-be them less “Canadian” ones like football (soccer) or more locally celebrated ones like hockey or curling-they all make me snooze.

    But I do find it funny how everyone is into FIFA at the moment. But I guess it’s a fun diversion for some, since The Senators and other Canadian teams lost their chance at the Cup.

  12. I love the world cup. And so what if you end up with no score. It’s the play, not the goals. Unlike hockey fans, soccer fans don’t equate interesting play with high scores…

    As for my team I’ve always liked Brazil and Portugal. Just hoping for a South American team in the final – if that happens, Montreal will be one big party.

    Oh, and the hot boys are nice too. Beats the hell out of hockey players.

  13. For those who find soccer boring I can only commiserate since in this game you must actually use your head for something other than a battering ram.
    The intellect required to understand and appreciate the game is beyond many of the mouth breathers who live and die according to the gospel of St Don and find fighting to be an integral part of any sporting endeavour.
    The delight so many take in the world cup is that after being sold for years that the World Series is a “classic” sporting event it is so engaging to find that in some places when a world title is on the line other countries are invited to attend and compete.
    As for flying foreign flags I would be ecstatic to root for Canada when it is in competition. Once Canada is gone I root for Scotland my ancestral home. After that just about anyone except Argentina where the hand of God gets confused with Maradonna or Italy where the pursuit of defence is considered a sacrament of the church.

  14. @XUP

    Soccer isn’t boring in other countries, because that’s the only sport they have.

    Not like here, where baseball, basket ball, football and hockey are multimillion dollar entertainment insdustries.

    No…soccer is the only thing a lot of these countries have…hence they go apeshit over it…as opposed to North Americans, who spread their enthusiasm among varios sports.

    As for Hockey…we DID win the Olympics. I think that counts.

  15. I am totally indifferent to soccer, but that is no surprise. I am totally indifferent to all professional sports.

    If I want to watch a match of something competitive, I will watch a narrated Starcraft II game.

  16. P.S. I didn’t mean to criticize the Canadian hockey teams in my last comment. I know that we have some of the best players in the world. I was just saying that maybe some people want something else to focus on rather than hockey. 🙂

    Just thought I should mention that because my last comment sounded a bit negative and I didn’t intend it that way.

  17. I love FIFA World Cup! I haven’t gone all crazy as to create a jersey on Facebook (I find it very corny) but I love to post about it and the teams I support. It is great to see the flags on cars, people wearing the jerseys at work, everywhere. There is a sense of kinship when you see another person cheering for “your” team!

    I watch it on weekends, at night. I enjoy the game even though I don’t understand all the finesse of it. And I don’t know if it’s just me but the jerseys this time are a little more fitted? OMG some of the bodies are to die for!

    I also support Brazil and Portugal (who BTW, massacred North Korea 7-0) 🙂

  18. Funny how we’re rooting for other countries for a sport, that just up until two weeks ago, we didnt’ give a flying fox-fart about.

    And won’t give a flying-fox-fart about, the week after it’s all over and done with.

  19. Smothermother – Ja! Go Deutschland!! And, baseball? Dull? Come on!!

    Justin – Yup, World Cup sure brings out the multiculturalism in Canada, doesn’t it?

    MM – World Cup is almost as bad as Lost for office cubicle conversation. People look at you like you have 3 heads if you don’t know what they’re talking about.

    Pauline – I’m not a big sports fan either, but it’s fun to watch a live game of most things. Football, I have no idea what’s going on there, but even that used to be fun back in high school, sitting in the bleachers with blankets and flasks.

    Jazz – Ya, who wants to watch sports where the athletes are all padded and decked out like robots? Sheesh.

    Dave1949 – Man, I hate those Italians (soccer-wise…just to be clear…I don’t hate the Italian people…they’re very nice and make great food) Personally, nothing is more boring than football. A bunch of guys all padded-out run into each other. Then they all stand around for a while, then they run into each other again, stand around, pile up on top of each other, pat each other on the ass, run into each other, stand around… Is there actually a ball involved in that game?

    Friar – Other countries also have cricket and rugby which are pretty huge, but I think you’re right that nobody pumps as much money into creating sports stars as the US, and to a lesser extent, Canada does.

    Milan – Narrated Starcraft II game, eh? You’re such a jock!!

    Pauline – I’m sure hockey fans can hold their own and weren’t at all offended by your comments.

    Sylvie – See, like I said to Jazz, what’s the point of watching athletes in action if they’re all covered in padding and helmets and layers of clothing?

    Julia – Tour de France. See I don’t get that at all. They just ride by. Where’s the action in that? Only if someone falls downs does it get interesting. And maybe right at the end when someone crosses the finish line. Oh well, it’s a good thing there are fans for every sport.

    Friar – I don’t know – people who are rooting for their ancestral country I would think care about it all the time, wouldn’t they?

  20. Most sports are boring on TV.

    (Most things on TV are boring, actually. But that’s another story…)

    Much better to go to a live event.

    At the risk of being drawn and quartered…

    I don’t like hockey – on TV.

    Never watched more than 10 minutes of a game – on TV.

    Boring.

    And for me, a bit too “Joe Six-Pack”. I feel like my intelligence is being insulted.

    But I’ve seen a few “live games”.

    Awesome.

    You can hear the skates on the ice, and the puck. You can hear the fans. You can feel the energy.

    And you don’t hear some annoying announcer, or have to sit through deodorant commercials.

    I imagine soccer is the same way.

  21. I’m cheering for the Dutch. I have absolutely zero real connection with the country besides a couple of visits, but my reasons are:

    1) They are a very pleasant people and I do enjoy visiting there. Their tolerance of my inability to speak their language, and their willingness to speak mine, is a lot of that.
    2) We, as a country, seem to share a lot of good feelings with the Dutch, from WWII (especially noticeable in Ottawa with the tulips).
    3) It’s bandwagony because they’re a top team, but not as much as, say, Brazil, Germany, or England. ENG is chock full of bandwagon riders.
    4) It’s a good excuse to wear fluorescent orange.

    I think the bright side of Canada itself not being in the World Cup is we’re free to choose who to cheer for for the most random reasons. Since we’re not really into soccer anyway, I like the idea that we’re allowed to be a bit silly in our choice of teams.

  22. I’m rooting for East Dorkistan.

    I hear their match with Upper Volta is going to be a hum-dinger!

    Woo-Hoo! Soccer! 🙂

  23. I’m not a football fan but it sure is big here in London. There are flags, of several competing nations, on display in windows, on cars, on shirts, etc. Tons of commercials for all kinds of non-sport related products that are geared around the World Cup. It’s on all the chat shows and stuff constantly. These people are seriously crazy about the World Cup, in a way that I never saw in the US for sure.

    And because of that, I’ve felt compelled to watch several games and try to get into it somewhat. I don’t have anyone I’m really rooting for, however. Though, the English sports reporters/analysts make me not want England to win because they are so overly-confident in a really annoying way.

  24. Don’t diss ‘Le Tour de France’!…Please. It’s the hardest, most gruelling sport in the world. Riding 6 hours a day at 35+ kms/h, in the saddle, for three weeks straight, through the ALPS shows mind-blowing stamina, strength, athleticism, and incredible devotion. Not to mention it’s also a very intellectual and strategic sport. Seriously, no other sport requires this much discipline. No other sport can compare to cycling.

    Have you ever watched it?

    Lance Armstrong lost 15lbs during ONE day of racing at the tour. This guys are not out for a leisurely bike ride. Come on.

  25. Funny that I like this time of the year. I love seeing the flags of various countries flying on assorted vehicles.
    A guy with the Brazilian flag almost ran me off the road a couple of days back so I got to yell and scream at him and insult his heritage without having to ask for a passport.
    I think its weird that people look at me funny as I drive around in the very sinister looking old Mercedes with a german flag on it…..

    Its not like its the Swastika or anything…..

  26. I er… don’t even know who is playing in the World Cup. I’m not big on sports, but I did get into the Olympic hockey. I was glued to the set for most of the men’s hockey and my voice was hoarse from screaming during the Gold Medal game.

    In the summer I will watch the odd baseball game on tv but I much prefer a live game. When I lived in TO I LOVED going to watch the Jays play at Skydome. Nothing like a good hotdog and a beer and the hot sun. Not the same in your living room.

  27. Brett – I agree. I feel the same way about music. I find it kind of irritating coming from the TV or a stereo or a radio, but I love to see it live. Same with a lot of stuff. Cooking shows just don’t half to justice to a good meal. Porn…

    Kelvin – Exactly, it’s like a big multicultural hoe-down.

    Friar – Draw us a flag.

    Kimberly – I can’t believe there are English who would dare to fly a foreign soccer flag during this or any other soccer event. Brave, brave souls.

    Jen – Oh ya, I’m sure it’s a tough and grueling sport, but all that stuff that makes it tough and grueling and loooooooooong, also makes it kind of tough and grueling to watch – in my opinion.

    Lebowski – Again with the links???

    Davina – I used to go to Blue Jays games at the Dome, too – back when you get seats in the sky for $5. I’m not sure there is such a thing as a good hot dog, though.

  28. A link is worth a thousand words.
    I’m going to blog one day and it will all be links.
    And make tons of sense.

  29. Ellie – Ivory Coast? Sounds less elephant-killy the French way. So, you’re supporting them just because you like the name? Ha!

    Lebowksi – You’re deep.

    Davina – See my blogroll under “the rest of Canada”

  30. I am oblivious to the world cup situation and I’m ok with that. I love that you choose to like based on the cute outfits 😉

  31. Leah – Well, those sports with all the big padded outfits and head-encompassing helmets…what’s up with that anyway? How can you be an athlete if you’re all rolled up in bubble wrap?