A very good friend and colleague sent me this piece which she wrote for the College of her university’s Web site about the 2010 World Cup. I loved it. It also reflects my views, but I think it is better written than mine. I got her permission to publish it in my blog, with her name (gracias, Eliana!) Here it goes:
I watch with delight “the beautiful game” especially every four years at the FIFA World Cup competitions, and wonder how it is that this truly global sport does not catch on in the US as it does in the rest of the planet, where it truly is (as sportscasters are wont to say), “a religion”.
For one thing, being a language and literature scholar, I have often wondered why this country of ours had misnamed what everyone plays with their feet (hence the name football, futbol, fussball, balonpie, etc) and calls it SOCCER. It is truly FOOT-BALL, and what passes for football in the US is a variety of rugby…. Or so I understood until I checked (yes, on Wikipedia there is an excellent article from which I quote):
“The rules of football were codified in England by the Football Association in 1863, and the name association football was coined to distinguish the game from the other forms of football played at the time, specifically rugby football. The term soccer originated in England, first appearing in the 1880s as an Oxford “-er” abbreviation of the word “association”, often credited to former England captain Charles Wreford-Brown.
Today the sport is generally known simply as football in English-speaking countries in which it is the most popular football code. In countries where other codes are more popular, the sport is more commonly referred to as soccer. Of the 45 national FIFA affiliates in which English is an official or primary language, 42 use football in their organizations official name (only Canada, Samoa and the United States use soccer). In 2005, Australia’s association football governing body changed its name from soccer to football to align with the general international usage of the term. In 2007, New Zealand followed suit citing “the international game is called football”. FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, defines the sport as association football in its statutes, but the term most commonly used by FIFA and the International Olympic Committee is football.”
Now I know! (thanks for asking and making me look this up).
As far as enjoying the game, it is truly wonderful to watch the teams from Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay (can you tell that I am part of the Spanish and Portuguese Department?), but most of all, to watch the games being narrated by Argentinian and Mexican sportscasters on UNIVISION, where the trademark loud call of “GOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!” follows every point scored by either team.
I love to see the players shake hands, greet each other, play with such passion and represent their countries…. the fans are true “patriots” in their national pride!!! If only diplomats and countries around the world could get united as athletes do in these games!
It is also thrilling to see world renowned players, now retired and/or watching from the stands, or even coaching the teams….. the Brazilian Pelé, the British David Beckham, the Argentine Diego Maradona.
I just cannot understand how some people say here in the US that “soccer is boring”! For one thing, just looking at the beautiful young men who play is a fun spectator sport unto itself.
So, being originally from Latin America and loving to visit England and Spain, and watching their excellent teams such as Arsenal, Manchester United, and Real Madrid play a world class game, makes me proud that I love this global beautiful sport! The World Cup is a great opportunity to revel in an athletic planetary achievement by young people of all races and nationalities and ethnicities.
VIVA EL FUTBOL!!!!!
(I don’t follow American football…. too rough and complicated for my taste)
Thank you again for asking.
Eliana Rivero, PhD