The World Cup is upon us. The Round of 16, knock-out stages start on Saturday. I am neither a fan of capitalism nor the idolatry of athletes, celebrities, politicians, or countries. I am not a nationalist of any kind. Im not particularly good at football. I still don’t understand the “offsides” rule. But the World Cup is a magical occurrence for one month every four years when it doesn’t matter if you believe in a flat or round Earth, how much or little you know about the sport, or if you believe in peace or war.
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!! is the primal human shriek of joy during this month. I listened to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy this week, to remind myself how truly wily that piece of music is. Ode to Joy. That’s what he named it. And Beethoven never even got to go to a World Cup match.
I’m rooting for MEXICO (Vamos el Tri!). But the beauty of the World Cup is that you get to root for almost everyone. Sure, you want certain teams to advance because it will benefit yours, but for four weeks in summer, you get to shriek with joy for countries you will never visit, and may not even know where to place on a map. It’s truly global and it’s truly human. We’ve been playing football since the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC in China.
It’s what I remember watching as a little kid, every four years. The coca-cola commercials, the mascots, that awesome Ricky Martin song in 1998. The murder of Andres Escobar (RIP) in 1994. I remember Zinedine Zidane headbutting his Italian opponent in his last ever match in 2006 when they were tied 1-1 in extra time. I remember watching Germany beat some other team with my babydaddy while intermittedly throwing up during my second trimester in 2010. My son asked me yesterday morning “Who’s our team for this match, mami?” “Vamos Uruguay!”
If you have time to sit down and watch a match, preferably with people you don’t know, for a team you don’t normally watch, I encourage you. It seems silly and it’s indulgent, but we keep doing it over and over again, and we keep shrieking with joy. Just make sure to watch on Telemundo.