For those of us who treat the World Cup like Brigadoon appearing on Earth, there is a undeniable magic to the games. The Olympics are nice. I wouldn’t kick ‘em out of bed, but they’re no World Cup. It has all of the same appeal — the struggles of stunning athleticism, battles of nationalism, time-honored rivalries, the storied past casting a shadow on the present – I would argue the World Cup is every measure the equal to the best parts of the Olympics. The key difference is the World Cup celebrates and focuses on one sport.
One perfect sport. Football. Soccer. Whichever you prefer. The name does not change the game. Soccer is possibly the finest game we play. For one month, the best in the world will compete on a global pitch. If all my purple pluperfect language wasn’t evidence enough, I am a die-hard World Cup fan. It’s my worst vice (other than speeding, cheating on my taxes and eating Russian diet pills like vitamins). I’m the worst kind of fan — the one that wants to talk about soccer.
As the die-hard fans prepare for the games, we will likely recall our favorite moments, talk a little pre-emptive shit to our friends and family, get a little hyped on the rising young stars, watch a few compilations vids of past glory, and of course, some goal porn, like, the Greatest Goals from 1970 – 2010. But I figured, while we ready ourselves for the games, before we get knee-deep into our rivalries and dig so very seriously into the competition, we ought to share a laugh … at ourselves.
Here are 20 signs you’re a die-hard fan of World Cup soccer:
1. You’ve had your heart broken by Diego Forlan.
2. You remember how great it felt, in WC 2010, to see Kaká get a red card. (For Americans, Kaká is the Tim Tebow of Brazil, only he’s good at football.) Now, it doesn’t matter if the foul was as fake as Ryan Seacrest’s smile, you know, it was still a ton of fun to see Kaká get ejected.
3. Speaking of the Canarinho, you, and everyone you know, always root against Brazil. Your two favorite teams are your team and whoever is facing Brazil.
4. But you love Pelé.
(If you click on his name you can watch seventeen year-old Edson Pelé score the winning goal to give Brazil their first World Cup victory in the 1958 World Cup Final. It was Brazil versus Sweden and it was in Stockholm … and it was sick! Okay, fine, click here.)
5. You’ve done ridiculous and/or drastic things in order to see a game, like, wake up at 3:30 a.m. and hike your tired ass to an Ethiopian bar just to watch an Egypt v. Ghana qualifier. (Group G, baby! Watch your ass, USA!)
6. You may have asked a friend: Is it just me or does Carles Puyol (the badass Spanish central defender) look like a horse and a monkey shared a barn and a bottle about thirty-seven years ago? (Hey Carles, why the long face? I kid, I kid. C’mon, take it like a champ.)
7. Even though you can’t understand a word of Spanish you prefer to watch games on Univision because of Andres Cantor and his unmistakable love for the single syllable… “Gooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!”
8. You either remember or have seen footage and were impressed by the crazy ball control skills of the Frenchman, Zinedine Zidane. Yet, even though UEFA named him the best European footballer ever (okay, for the last 50 years), and even though he won the Golden Ball for best player in WC 2006, the first thing you think about when you hear Zinedine Zidane is the image of him head-butting Matterazi. The Frenchman was such a hot-head he head-butted his way into a red card and got thrown out of his last ever World Cup match – the Final on his home pitch in France. (But it was the 110th minute and Materazzi had reportedly talked trash about Zidane’s sister, so, no matter what, the dude went out on top, like the baller he was.)
9. Speaking of language, the World Cup makes you far more international. This is very beneficial for most Americans who need all the coaxing they can get in that direction. For instance, thanks to World Cup you never ever call it the Ivory Coast. It’s always Cote d’Ivoire. Always.
10. A few days after the Final, you start playing FIFA videogames like a heroin junkie turns to methadone. It’s just something to help you get through … those first few months after World Cup. You need it the way people who go to Burning Man throw on a feather boa and dusty boots and go to a Decompression Party.
11. You know the “nickname” of Japan’s national team is Samurai Blue (or Blue Samurai if you want to westernize it). If you’re a really hardcore fan you know the team is also called Zaccheroni Japan! (Really, could anyone pick between those two — they’re equally rad.)
12. As sad as it is to admit, you’ve stopped speaking to a friend or family member, or both, because of the outcome of a game. This seems perfectly reasonable to you. And to them. But hey, it could be worse. At least you didn’t kill each other. (Maybe bring that up at family counseling.)
13. You can tell the story of Diego Maradona and “The Hand of God.” If you’re English, you will likely tell your grandchildren that terrible bedtime tale.
14. Now, if you’re like me, you’ll tell your grandchildren stories about Carlos Valderrama and his magical orange afro. But you’ll make sure they know the flamboyant Colombian footballer, El Pibe (or The Kid, if you speak gringo), shouldn’t be remembered just for his ridic orange-blonde afro. El Pibe made FIFA’s 100 Greatest Footballers because he was a boss. In fact, the list was selected by Pelé. So, y’know, The Kid could play.
15. You understand why fans called bullshit when Uruguayan self-fellater Luis Suarez tried to nickname his goal-saving handball in Uruguay v. Ghana (WC 2010) as “The Hand of God II.” (You, sir, are no Diego Maradona). If asked, you might agree that Luis Suarez is a great player, but you’d probably want to add that he’s an insufferable hemorrhoid.
16. You may or may not have gotten drunk and told a bar full of people why you hope David Villa never has children. Nothing against the man personally but…
17. You know you’re passionate about soccer because you’ve had lucid dreams wherein you’re on the pitch, you’re playing for your favorite team, but then, you ripped awake and it’s back to reality and that transition feels like the cruelest trick of all. Once again, stuck in your non-World Cup playing life. Ask Landon Donovan, he can tell you how it feels.
18. A key indicator if you are a die-hard fan of Copa Mundial, you are most likely not an American.
19. If you are a die-hard fan who is an American, your parents were likely born somewhere else. (If neither of these apply, well, check you out — you’re broad-minded.)
20. Okay, all nationalism and player-hating aside (because there will be plenty of time for that during the games), the most common way to know if you’re a die-hard fan is how others treat you. If everyone who knows you and anyone who loves you, pretty much gives you a pass, or if they just stay far away from you for the full four weeks, it’s because, just like with a werewolf, they know you’re going to run amok. Luckily, for all of your relationships, World Cup only comes around every four years. Enjoy the games! Go Ghana!