I watched the opening match of the World Cup without a clear rooting interest. I don’t follow soccer all too closely, and neither country involved appeared to field an American team, so I was stumped.
Seeing as to how there wasn’t much else to do, I ended up discussing the relative merits of rooting for Brazil or Croatia with a friend. She told me she was pulling for Brazil because they were hosting the tournament and so much had gone wrong in the organizing. I ultimately settled on Croatia for similar sorts of reasons: a country that so badly bungled the organizing does not deserve to win anything, I could imagine little so delicious as a stadium full of entitled fans rapidly emptying after a crushing defeat, and perhaps a humiliating loss would further embolden the oppressed millions to overthrow their capitalist government and bring the World Cup to a premature conclusion. As you can see, the imagination has plenty of time to run wild during a soccer match.
Also, I had yet to learn Croatia’s fans are apparently Nazis.
Anyway, as you may have gathered, the reasoning behind the rooting interests on which I eventually settled was rather abstract and uninspired. Not anymore. Now, Brazil, it’s personal — all thanks to last Friday’s Seattle Times:
Alright, I can hear you wondering, what’s the problem here? A few Brazilians celebrating their team’s World Cup victory made the front page. Perhaps not the “soccer frenzy” promised in the headline, but a perfectly-reasonable image to publish while desperately grasping for some local angle on the World Cup (before Seattle Sounder Clint Dempsey scored for Team USA).
The problem, my friend, is simple: that Brazilian wearing a black and red shirt is obscuring the one element of this photograph I was most interested in seeing: myself. That’s right: I attended a World Cup viewing party in an alley, leaned against a wall, and came one Brazilian who couldn’t stay in his seat from landing on the front page of The Seattle Times, Winner of Nine Pulitzer Prizes. Two people from my office made it into the frame — but not I.
For the record, here’s what this looked like from my POV:
Note the offending Brazilians sitting in row two, and white-striped brown polo shirt-wearing person also leaning against the wall and visible in both images. Can’t make this stuff up, because that would be a weird thing to do.