Secret Soccer Fans

Every four years, excitement over soccer in the United States and the number of supporters grows for the World Cup.

One may suddenly realize a co-worker, with whom they have worked closely for years, is actually a die-hard fan. It’s just never come up before. One day, he wears a Nike Total 90 shirt to the office and a new chapter in the story of their friendship opens.

“You like soccer?”

“Are you kidding me?! I love the juego bonito!” (Beautiful Game)

“Let’s get matching tattoos!”

What’s to be so hush-hush about?

The way I see it, soccer is (*duh*) still not recognized as a real sport by most Americans. We followers of futebol become somewhat jaded assuming we are such a minority, creating the illusion that a mutual fan of soccer is a gem. Really, we’re just so starved for the conversation and the general lack of rivalry makes every fan a friendly one.

USA got to the elimination round, then lost to Ghana, and it was kind of a bummer. But even if we have to wait four years to get that one person that “just doesn’t understand the game” to sit down, stand up, watch and cheer with us, it’s worth it. It’s worth it for every new fan angered over a controversial call they don’t wholly understand. It’s worth it for the goal in extra time that can’t be disputed. It’s worth it for the kids, with the hands of their heroes on their small shoulders before the match starts. It’s worth it for the Vuvuzelas, irritating and incessant, but a welcome drone when following your team’s victory.

The message of international play in soccer is bigger than goals and headers.

They shake hands before the game, but after the game they hug.