However, having traveled the world during the run-up to this massive, once every four-years event, one can definitely see where we lack the national pride and enthusiasm for football that most of the world espouses. The term "religion" comes up frequently when discussing football in these countries, and I believe they mean it, believe it, and most importantly, feel it.
So what has been fun for Suzanne and me (without the distraction of MLB, NHL and NBA) in reading and keeping up with the on- and off-field stories, dramas and predictions in every country we go to. I guess we'll be on the bandwagon for the 2014 go-round and have to pick which of the countries (in addition to the U.S.) that we will root for!?!
We finally know who Lionel Messi is, and why he is both revered and hated.
It is interesting though that when the World Cup was hosted in the U.S. in 1994 and some preliminary games played at Soldier Field, I did go down to watch the kick-off parade down Michigan Ave., and even with how amazing that was, I didn't get the bug then. Nor when one of my largest clients was adidas during the 2006 and 2010 games (shout out to Mr. Buglio) - and they own the World Cup.
But this time around, being in many of the countries and seeing the excitement build, I have just a little curiosity.
Maybe tomorrow night we'll try to find a neighborhood London pub and watch the local fans watch their team play Italy. Maybe some hooligans will show up and mix it up a little?
BTW, here's a great link to the odds by country. Click-on both the Group Stage and Knock Out Stage buttons:
P.S. As we know there are a lot of soccer fans in Hinsdale, if anyone is having a World Cup party this summer (yes, you Tom Counts), put us on your invitation list. We have earned the right now to drink beer at anytime on the world clock.
P.S.S. And speaking of national stereotypes, I think we have seen a few die and a few other new ones on this trip. I do not believe that people from the U.S. are the most hated as tourist anymore. The term "Ugly Americans" has definitely been replaced by "Difficult Russians" tourist and we have seen that people are pretty universally suspicious of them. And Chinese tourist groups...don't get us started. Let's just say you do not want to be in the middle of, or especially behind, them. And as for the French being arrogant if you don't speak French? I think that one is dying out just a bit too and we only encountered a few snippy Frenchmen who didn't want to make the effort to help us out linguistically. For the most part they were as warm as anywhere we went.
Lastly, here is a hilarious video from John Oliver on FIFA and the World Cup (with a nice dig at the U.S. in the opening). Parts are a little risque.