Time for all expats to be soccer fans

28th July 2003, Comments 0 comments

Time for all expats to be soccer fans

You call the game soccer, not football, and you never liked it much anyway.

Don't worry about that now, if you're from the United States you're in with a chance. Not much of a chance, but you've made it to round two.

If you're English speaking, you can adopt England as your team. They're still in it and every second game they're playing well.

There's still just time to decide you're a fan and share the joy as a hundred fists punch the sky in triumph in a pub near you when the next round of the World Cup kicks off.

You can meet friends, drink too much, wear garish sweaters, scarves in summer make agonised gargling noises when your team nearly scores. And when they do put the ball in the net - anything goes.

How good does it feel for football fans when their team scores?

Nick Hornby is a football fan who fills in time between games by writing best sellers, like About A Boy — now starring Hugh Grant at a cinema near you.

He wrote about being a football fan in Fever Pitch — and this is how he describes seeing his team, Arsenal, score a competition-winning goal at the Anfield ground, for him the climactic resolution of an 18-year wait.

Some people, he writes, try to explain the joy of such a moment by comparing it with sex, but that is inadequate for him.

"The trouble with the orgasm as metaphor here is that the orgasm, though obviously pleasurable, is familiar, repeatable. Within a couple of hours if you've been eating your greens, and predictable — particularly for a man. If you're having sex then you know what's coming, as it were. Maybe if I hadn't made love for 18 years and had given up hope of doing so for another 18 and then suddenly out of the blue, an opportunity presented itself. Maybe in these circumstances it would be able to recreate an approximation of that Anfield moment. Even though there is no question that sex is a nicer activity than watching football - no nil-nil draws, no off-side trap, no Cup upsets — and you're warm — in the normal run of things the feelings it engenders are simply not as intense as those brought about by a once in a lifetime, last minute championship winner."

And all that joy is available to you now as you prepare to cheer for the USA or England or pick another - between now and 30 June, or a little earlier for all but two teams.

In fact you can have more fun than a fan because you're a fair-weather fan. As soon as things turn sour you can reach for the remote control and tell your anguished fellow viewers that it's only a game.

June 2002

Marius Benson

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