The planet has been consumed by World Cup Fever, but you’d barely know it from life in the US. Most Americans will tell you soccer is boring and wholly uninteresting because it takes so long for anyone to score. But I’m here to tell you those people are wrong. In fact, if you’re a woman, this game was made for you. Here’s why:
5. Va Va Voom
Soccer has two 45-minute periods with a 15-minute break in between. Once the clock starts, it doesn’t stop. No wimpy time-outs, no bringing proceedings to a halt if players get hurt, no bratty coaches interrupting to throw hissy fits. The players go until time runs out.
A field full of men who can sustain vigorous physical activity for ninety minutes straight? Goal!
Besides, any knucklehead can catch or throw a ball, and with enough practice, lob it into a hole. But can you bounce one off your foot, upper body or head and send it sixty yards into a net? Me either.
4. Mama Mia & Obrigado
Soccer offers pure theater, especially from those gorgeous Italians. A ref makes a bad call and the Italian teams beat their chests and fall to their knees in prayer position calling out to the Holy Father. Remember the Frenchman who was penalized for headbutting another guy in the torso in 2006? The other guy was a hunky Italian who’d said something about the Frenchman’s momma. The Italians turn the game into a Fellini film.
And check out the Brazilians. When first learning about soccer, I was told European players are trained since boyhood, but most Brazilians learn the game while playing barefoot on the beach as kids. Thus, their skills are organic and their bodies flow around the ball like magical beams of light. Imagine the Harlem Globetrotters playing a real game of basketball and you’ve got Brazil on a soccer pitch.
If you want to get the differences between the world’s cultures, watch soccer. You’ll see the streamlined efficiency of the Germans, the haughty fluidity of the French, the measured fervor of Argentines. And there are histories here: colonial powers competing against former colonies and rivalries going back to the era of kingdoms. Soccer is so much more than a game.
2. We are the World
I lived in Germany during the last World Cup, and saw first hand how soccer is the biggest sporting event in the galaxy. World War III could have broken out, no one would have noticed, too busy were they sitting in front of televisions watching soccer. What I loved most was seeing the entire planet in one place: Sweden was there, France, Mexico, Ghana, Korea, countries I’d never even heard of. Being a soccer fan connects you to the global community. During those two weeks, you imagine the entire planet coming together to celebrate both the Earth’s cultural mélange and the beauty of the human body and soul being pushed to its edge. Am I the only one who thinks that’s awesome?
1. Pure, Unadulterated Hotness
You knew this was coming: soccer players? Absolutely out of this world. You can keep your weirdly tall basketball players, tank-sized footballers and gangly golfers. Baseball players, too – playing a sport in which you can wait around in a field lazily munching chewing tobacco does not a stud make you.
Soccer men have movie star faces and bodies like Roman sculptures. When my Vanity Fair came this month with Annie Liebovitz’s shots of some World Cup heroes in their skivvies (above), I cried. How could God create such masculine perfection but make it accessible only in the pages of a magazine?
The miracles soccer players perform are Olympian, their physiques are Adonis-like and their athletic triumphs have made them, to many, the closest we have to gods on Earth.
Oh, man, have I got the fever. Bad.