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on watching the world cup

If there is one event that can capture the attention of billions it is the World Cup. While it is generally recognized to be the premier sporting event by 98% of the world's population, the spirit of o jogo bonito has yet to catch on in the United States. Didier Drogba's goal for the Côte d'Ivoire against Argentina saw myself and four other people cheering with delight, but apart from that and my telephone call with Min during the match between Togo and Korea this has been a fairly solitary affair for me.

I've had some problems watching games as well. Not only don't we have cable at my apartment, but my work schedule means I have to miss the last ten minutes of the day's first game, all of the second match, and the opening ten minutes of the third game. I've been trying to watch as many games as possible at my old house, but this has also been problematic. Before moving out I had mentioned dropping by to watch some of the fixtures, but on the first of the month I received a call from rurisue asking me to pay for the next month's rent at our house and turn in my key. I may only have a limited amount of experience on the matter, but if a tenent is paying to live somewhere don't they usually get to keep a key in return for their payment?

We reached a compromise in a matter of seconds (a $400 check for her, a house key for me) but it didn't take more than two days before I heard from her again. This time the call was to let me know that she had moved her things out of the house, her brother had moved his things out of the house, and the television was gone for good - which meant no World Cup games for me. Yet, oddly enough, when I stopped by to drop off my check her brother was still living at the house and the television was still in place. What am I supposed to think of that?

Usually I have the set to myself for most of the morning, but near the end of each match rurisue's brother comes out after getting ready for work - which has also caused a few problems. I certainly don't mind sharing the experience with others (in fact, there are a couple of people on my friends list who I would love to be with during games) ... but this guy keeps talking and talking. If it were about statistics, understanding the rules, or asking about team backgrounds that wouldn't be so bad, but instead he drones on about why rugby players don't like gridiron tackling styles, how he can't believe they don't 'call plays' in the World Cup like they do in American sports, and mindlessly repeating the garbage aired on ESPN Sports Center.

I try to help when I can and ignore him when I can't, but it's hard. I'm contemplating death threats to shut him up, but keeping to them would require taking my attention away from the game. Next time I'll know better - order cable, if only for two months. It's worth it.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 17th, 2006 12:16 pm (UTC)
You definitely should come in Europe next time.
Here you could watch the craziness...

I've just only learnt we had Equa...wait... I have to check... Ecuadorians in Belgium, and I've discovered that because they were celebrating and dancing on the streets after being qualified :D
Jun. 18th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC)
I hope your new-found Ecuadorians didn't keep you up late with all their celebrating! ;) This is only their second World Cup but they're playing quite well - I can't wait for their match against Germany later this week.

By the time the next World Cup comes I should be finished with school, so hopefully I can make the trek out to South Africa to catch the matches there. I've also heard that Belgium and the Netherlands want to co-host the 2018 edition ...
Jun. 18th, 2006 11:04 am (UTC)
Well, yes indeed, they want to, but if they do, I'll have to find a way to emigrate for one month ;)
We could swap homes maybe :D

No, but seriously, I thought of you yesterday night when Italy wasn't able to defeat the USA.

(I would nearly make myself a football icon for all those chats with you ;P)
Jun. 19th, 2006 03:23 am (UTC)
I've always found home-exchanges to be an interesting idea, and trying it during a World Cup would be as good a time as any other.

Does this mean that you were watching the match between Italy and the USA in order to be thinking of me? hehe. Thank you for thinking about me though - that put a smile on my face. :)

Less than half of the World Cup fixtures have been played so far; it's not too late to make yourself a football icon. ;)
Jun. 27th, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC)
My mother was watching the game, and yes it made me think of you :)

Oh and have a look at the icon :)
Jun. 28th, 2006 09:19 pm (UTC)
Your mom watches football and you don't? Trop étrange! haha.
I don't think I've ever seen an icon like that before. Wow. :P
Jun. 17th, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
US and Italy just drew...there was blood involved!
Jun. 18th, 2006 05:41 am (UTC)
Not only was there a lot of blood involved ... but also three red cards and a disallowed goal for the United States! ESPN is replaying the match at midnight and my aunt has agreed to record it to DVD for me. :)
Jun. 18th, 2006 11:05 am (UTC)
Oh wow, you couldn't even see it live? Too bad.
Are you especially supporting the US team?
Jun. 19th, 2006 03:28 am (UTC)
My body didn't want to wake up in time to watch the game. Going to sleep at 2:30 am and waking up at 5:00 am to catch the first match of the day meant I was feeling very exhausted come the weekend.

I'm not supporting the US team in particular. The teams I'm following are Ukraine, France, Korea, and la Côte d'Ivoire.
Jun. 18th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC)
Hi this is your alarm clock. Brazil vs. Australia starts in 20 minutes!
Jun. 19th, 2006 04:07 am (UTC)
Thanks for the wake-up call, it's much appreciated!
I had to take a nap this afternoon, as I was up until 3:00 am and woke up at 5:00 for the match between Japan and Croatia. Crazy.

Any opinions on the match?
Jun. 19th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC)
Even though Australia lost, they played a fucking great game considering they were up against Brazil, particularly in the first half. The commentators were even saying Brazil had a somewhat disappointing performance during halftime. The Aussies let things slide in the second half though. Their goalkeeper's pretty good, but after the ball ricocheted off the post, he let Brazil score their second point. Plus Cahill and Emerton took some lousy shots.

I was giving them a 50-50 chance to beat Brazil, even after Brazil scored their first point. But oh well.

Did you see it? What did you think? My opinions are that of an amateur soccer spectator. :)

What happened between Japan and Croatia?
Jun. 19th, 2006 07:38 am (UTC)
Australia pushed Brazil for most of the game and I thought a point would have been well-deserved considering how they played. I'm not sure there was much the goalkeeper could have done to prevent the second goal though - his aim was to stop the first shot and there really should have been a defender watching Fred to prevent him from scoring.

Last I heard Cahill was still recovering from an injury, which is why he only played the last 10 minutes against Japan. He might have done better as a second-half sub in this match as well - I've seen him score some great goals for his club and it's a shame he's not 100% for the World Cup.

Did you see the mistakes made by the Brazilian goalkeeper - it's like he wanted to help Australia get back into the game. I was hoping Australia would score at least once and get a draw out of the encounter, as now they have to get a result against Croatia if they want to advance.

The Japan - Croatia match started out with the players running like it was a track meet, but it was so hot the game slowed way down in the second half. The most note-worthy event of the game was a penalty awarded to Croatia which the Japanese keeper saved. Oh yeah, and with the match played on father's day it was only appropriate that the son of Croatia's coach was on the pitch. =P
Jun. 19th, 2006 07:42 pm (UTC)
I had my eye on the Brazilian goalkeeper (not just because he was cute haha), but didn't catch anything in particular...what did he do?

Well if the Aussies can beat Japan, I think they can beat Croatia. Though wouldn't they be able to advance if they drew?

Too bad I missed the Croatia-Japan match, and will most likely miss USA-Ghana.
Jun. 21st, 2006 09:29 am (UTC)
The Brazilian goalkeeper plays in Italy ... maybe you should take a trip to Europe and pay him a visit? ;) I recall him making at least two astonishing mistakes during the match, but the only one I noticed during the FIFA highlights video is at 57' when he drops the ball at an Australian player's feet.

[Brazil - Australia highlights]

Croatia is going to be a tough match for Australia. The Croatians finished third in 1998 and played well against Brazil in the first group match. Also, I'm not sure if it will make a difference to how the match is played, but two Croatian players were born in Australia while two Australian players were born to Croatian parents and could have played for the European nation instead. It really is a small world. ;)

A draw will be enough for Australia so long as Japan doesn't beat Brazil by three goals or more - a feat that looks extremely unlikely. You didn't miss much in the Croatia - Japan game. Of the remaining group matches I'd definitely recommend Argentina - Netherlands (ESPN @ 11:55 am, Wed.).

Plus, if you have the time, either Korea - Switzerland (ESPN2 @ 11:55 am, Fri.) or France - Togo (ESPN @ 11:55 am, Fri.) should be worth watching. France have to win by at least 2 goals to qualify for the next round. A draw is enough for Switzerland, but Korea has a habit of scoring very late, game-winning goals, so the Swiss will probably be looking to attack from the start of the game.

And that ends Paul's World Cup Wrap-Up for tonight. :P
Jun. 21st, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC)
A small world indeed.

Croatia will be a bitch. But 2006 FIFA rankings have them at...22 or 23? And Australia beat Japan, at number 18.

There must be something going on with my local cable provider. ESPN was showing Serbia-Montenegro vs. Ivory Coast at 11:55AM today. There's going to be more than one match tomorrow too, and if I don't get to watch C vs. A I'm gonna be mad.

Unfortunately I won't be able to watch either Friday matches, though if there's an 8:30 match I can watch that.

Thanks for the wrap up, Paul. :)
Jun. 22nd, 2006 05:51 am (UTC)
Yeah, but the FIFA rankings also put the United States in the top six and everyone knows that's not true. Teams are ranked based on how often they win - and because the United States and Japan are big fish in a small pond it's easier for them to get an inflated ranking by playing like Canada or Hong Kong.

Hm. If you get the wrong game on television I would just flip to the other ESPN network to find the one you want. And hope it's not on ABC instead. haha.

The other time slot for Friday's games is 7:00 am. You have a choice between Saudi Arabia vs Spain (ESPN) or Ukraine vs Tunisia (ESPN2). I'd go for the second pairing myself, as I don't give the KSA much chance against Spain. And if you get ESPN Classic they'll be replaying the France vs Togo match on Friday at 11:00 pm.

I don't tell too many people about this, but I used to write reviews of the French league for a British website and had someone claiming to be from ESPN Classic contact me about my opinion on the best goal of the season in France. At least one person read my wrap-ups, it seems. :P
Jun. 23rd, 2006 01:07 am (UTC)
I got Croatia vs. Australia fine, old mate. ;)

Is it 7 or 10? Oh wait it's 7...9:55AM EST. Damn. I'll have to get up early then. :)

IS KSA not a good team?

Why don't you tell many people about it? That's something to be proud of! :)
Jun. 25th, 2006 07:56 am (UTC)
Even though I always set my alarm to catch the early games there are some times when I think it's better to go back to sleep. Things won't be any easier at the 2010 World Cup either ...

KSA makes a lot of people complain that Asia has too many spots (4.5) at the World Cup. They lost 0:8 to Germany four years ago and 0:4 against Ukraine this year. I would much rather see a team like Uzbekistan or Thailand make it, but if you want to reach the World Cup you have to win your qualifying games first. =\

I doubt most people would even care? Plus, it doesn't seem like it would be very easy to slip that into a conversation without dramatically changing the subject. haha.
Jun. 18th, 2006 08:52 am (UTC)
One advice: try ear plugs... You just have to nod from time to time, to look as if you were listening to him...

What happened with the USA match from yesterday? I heard there were 3 red cards distributed! Wow that must have been some game if they played that bad.
Jun. 19th, 2006 02:30 am (UTC)
I might have to try ear plugs - both to avoid the guy at our house and so I don't have to hear the American World Cup announcers. They're so bad!

That game was crazy. The United States had to play the entire second half with nine men, although one of the Italian players picked up an injury after all three substitutions had been made - he spent the end of the game limping around the field. One 'regular' goal, one own-goal, and one disallowed goal. I think that game had a little bit of everything.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )