Today in Germany, the entire world will be focused on the start of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It is by far the most popular individual sports tournament in the world. Millions and millions of people will be watching the Germany-Costa Rica match, which will start the World Cup.
This is a REAL world championship. Let's face it, the World Series, the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals aren't world championships. This is one the entire world watches. In most nations of the world, soccer is an incredible passion, on a par with being a member of Red Sox Nation!!
Brazil are the defending champions, and are the odds-on favorites to repeat. Germany, England and Italy are other strong contenders to take the cup. The United States' first match will be Monday afternoon against the Czech Republic. They are also paired with Italy and Ghana. It's a tough group, but the U.S. has a good chance to make it to the second round.
I've been following the World Cup since 1978, and it's always an exciting time. Here in the U.S. you always get the usual group of wiseasses in the media who'll give you a thousand good reasons why you shouldn't bother watching, as they consider soccer "boring"and "foreign," the usual elitist crap you hear from these cretins.
For example, palaver from a dubious "writer" named Hondo, in today's New York Post:
"The World Cup kicks off today, the beginning of one month of monotony. Now would be the time to start catching up on all that sleep you've missed in your life."
Soccer will never reach the popularity of baseball, American football, hockey or basketball in the United States, but that doesn't matter. Soccer has a definite following here, and I'll bet the ratings numbers won't be bad, especially if the U.S. goes a long way in the tournament.
The official World Cup site is: http://www.fifaworldcup.com.
Other good sites are at ESPN Soccernet: http://www.soccernet.com and Fox Sports soccer site: http://www.foxsoccer.com.
And did any of you happen to see those Nike commercials about the U.S. World Cup team? (And let's get one thing straight. They are not "Team USA." People who know nothing about soccer call them that. They are "The U.S. National Team.") In the background an instrumental version of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" is played. Isn't that a baseball song? I'd like to have an explanation on that one.
Baseball will always be my main passion, but I'll be watching a good number of World Cup matches over the next month. The final will be played in Berlin on July 9th.
Let's Go USA!!!