Dear Hardcore Soccer Fans in America,
The World Cup starts this week, but you knew that. You don’t need ESPN to run promos with Coldplay music splashed in the background to remind you of the start of soccer’s biggest tournament. Your biological soccer clock’s countdown timer has been ticking since 2010’s tournament ended.
Soccer season never really ends for you. You follow different leagues all around the world, so when one league takes a brief break, you just hop over and watch another league. You’re a fan, 24-7, 365.
So now, with the World Cup just days away, I ask just one simple favor of you…
Don’t be a douche.
What that means…
Don’t refer to the field as the pitch.
Don’t refer to cleats as boots.
Don’t refer to zero goals as nil.
Don’t refer to jerseys as a kit.
Don’t call a tie a draw.
And for the love of all things holy, please don’t call it Futbol.
Remember what your goal is here – you want soccer to rapidly climb in popularity in the United States. The moment you utter one of those words above is the moment you will lose the attention of everyone in the room, and you may even lose some friends.
You’re in America, so you will end up watching the World Cup with people who aren’t soccer fans, whether you like it or not. Remember, they’re not anti-soccer because they have watched it a lot and have made an educated decision to discontinue watching it – they have never really given it a chance. They watch it once every four years (World Cup), they cheer for the U.S., they watch us get knocked out by Ghana, and then they don’t tune back in until the final, so if it is an ugly game like Spain-Netherlands was, they’ll be done with the sport for another four years.
You have a great knowledge of the game and its players, no one is denying that. But you must be careful to walk the fine line between helping your friend understand and enjoy the game more and emphasizing every second that you know every player’s name, history, and every soccer trivia fact possible. Use those facts as fun tidbits, not as a means to separate yourself from the rest of the room.
Your knowledge is most needed during the group stage. First, you’ll need to explain how that works without sounding pretentious. Then, you’ll have to explain why teams aren’t as aggressive early on during the group stage because of the goal differential and all. Usually this is where you blow it and lose your temper, distancing yourself from the casual fan. Please tread lightly. Don’t resort to passive-aggressive tweets. People in the room are most likely following you (or WERE following you).
Lastly and most importantly, cheer for the United States! I know all of your favorite club players are from elsewhere, but cheer for your country. This isn’t the NFL, and this isn’t the NBA, where you get to pick a team to root for. In an international competition, your team is automatically chosen for you. Sorry, you have lost your right to choose a team. Root for the United States squad until we are knocked out, then you may venture to a new team.
“But I’m a Barcelona fan all year, so I know the Spanish players better…”
NO! No… too. damn. bad. You cheer for your home country, and don’t you dare wear another country’s jersey until the U.S. team is done. I don’t care that you got it for $5 in some back-alley on a mission trip. You fly our colors and our colors only.
I don’t want this to sound like a rant from a redneck who doesn’t like soccer. I genuinely enjoy the sport. I played it for a large majority of my life. It’s that I have been on the inside before, so I know how your soccer brain works.
Use your knowledge of the sport for good, not to show off how much you know.