Sunday, June 18, 2006

The World's Only Soccer Widower


World Cup Fever has begun.

To my suprise, ESPN has actually got decent coverage of the World Cup. I was fully expecting partial coverage at best, but ESPN has telecast ALL the matches live, so far. My pet theory is that they are dutifully broadcasting the World Cup only because the US team is still in.

Why am I writing about this?

People close to me know I've been a soccer moron most of my life. Prior to 2002, EPL meant the Eastern Plaguelands and the European Cup sounded like a modification undergarment manufacturers from China are obliged to make. I will , however, watch the World Cup, and follow it with mild interest.

Mild interest is NOT how my wife follows the World Cup. The games are telecast at 6 am local time. She will wake early, and watch all three telecast matches. Daily. Meanwhile, I will either (i) wake up at 8 am to haul my sorry ass to BarBri courses or (ii) haul my sorry ass in time to half-watch, half-read my BarBri materials in the morning.

Unlike many female soccer fans, she's not watching just for cute football players. She's a Brazil/Argentina supporter. She jokes, and I agree, that the Brazil/Argentina players aren't, by any definition, "good-looking". Having seen them myself, I agree. Ronaldino and Ronaldo are particularly goofy-looking.

Needless to say, everything my wife talks about now is soccer. She's stopped surfing for ice-dancing videos. That's good. Instead, now she surfs for video clips of Ronaldino scoring.

You just can't win.


So which team do I support?


(You can screw your eyeballs back into your head now.)

I can hear the cries of "Why Korea?!" in the background. I will explain. In 2002, while I was still working in my law firm in Singapore, there was an office pool going. I picked Korea - not because I thought they would win, but because it would make the matches I watched a bit more interesting. Plus - Korea was going at $2. The favourites to win, Brazil was going at $60. Italy was going at $50. I watched every Korea match after that.

The rest, as they say, is history. The day after Korea beat Italy in the quarter-finals, I received a personal visit from several irate Italy fans.

My only remark to them - "Best $2 I've ever spent!"

Seriously though, there's something about the Korean World Cup team that I really love watching. I know they aren't the best team out there, nor are they the favourites. Perhaps that's why I like them so much. They aren't the best team out there. I know plenty of Italy, France, Brazil, Argentina and England supporters in Singapore. Quite a few support their teams because they genuinely love those teams, but there are many Singaporean soccer fans who support a team only because they think that team is going to win.

Korea isn't going to win the World Cup. Heck, even the Korean players KNOW they are underdogs. That's not the point. I watch them because I respect them deeply. They refuse to give up. I've seen numerous examples of this in the 2002 World Cup. From Luis Figo's controversial "offer" to Korea to ask them to step down the pressure, to Ahn Jung Hwan's 117th minute goal against Italy, outjumping legendary Italian defender Paolo Maldini no less. They fought every step of the way, even when no one thought they should be able to win.

I don't know that much about soccer. I can't recognize the stars, I can't tell what the tactics are. I can't play the game to save my life. However, there is one thing that I can recognize that transcends sports, business and life. Heart. Cojones. Fighting Spirit. The ability to take a career-ending hit, bounce back and yell back "Is that all ya f**king got?!"

I support Korea. Somebody has to.


Tym said...

I think you're the first widower I've met. Widow though I am, I have a soft spot for Korea too --- but mostly because some of the players are cute ;)

Anthony said...


Refer to my title. I'm the only World Cup Widower I know too.

alchemist said...

Hurrrrr... I support Eng-er-land... not because they'll win, or their football is good, or they're cute. Probably, none of these is true. But what is true is that I was born there, and there's something about a team that always thinks they'll win, that gets installed as a favourite each time, and never wins it ever (except by a non-goal in 1966).

Alphabet Moppet said...

heh. I kinda like korea because of its supporters. They are the ultimate epitome of national pride. I watched the France vs Korea match and throughout the match, they were impressively synchronized.

Anthony said...

Muchly so.

Makes me ashamed to be Singaporean really.

-ben said...

Never one for soccer or any spectator sport for that matter (I don't even watch the Tour de France coverage). The experience of sitting before the tube on the couch or in a bar / sports bar watching people exercise is alien to me. I rather be the one exercising. But that's just me :-P

How are you handling the heat up there?
I'm dying here.

And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

[ . . . ]

After two days in the desert sun
My skin began to turn red
After three days in the desert fun
I was looking at a river bed
And the story it told of a river that flowed
Made me sad to think it was dead

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