I’ve been forced to like soccer

As most people know, the 2010 World Cup is currently underway in South Africa.  Before the start of these games, I really knew jack crap about soccer and quite honestly, didn’t give a [jack] crap about soccer. 

My pre-World Cup knowledge and feelings:

  • Soccer is SUPER boring.  Kicking a ball back and forth, back and forth.  And for what…a 0-0 tie?!  Or even with goals made – you’re talking maybe 2 or 3 points.  And that is supposed to be exciting?
  • Soccer is the most popular sport in the world (not so much in the US though).  So, for some reason – people really love it.  But, it is also one of the most dangerous/deadly sports to watch (thousands of injuries – and deaths – mostly due to collapsing stadiums and stampedes).  Hmm…no thanks.
  • Yeah…what else?  Oh, Seattle has its own soccer team – the Seattle Sounders.  I haven’t been to a game.
  • And I know the following players: David Beckham (who doesn’t know that name?), Wayne Rooney (gotta root for a fellow Rooney), and Park JiSung (because you can’t live in South Korea for 10 months and not know who he is.  I actually think it’s a law or something.  I kid.)

  

But now let’s fast forward to present time.

SAM_2099

   Yes, that is Micah and I in the middle of some Korean World Cup chaos. 

  

The World Cup to South Koreans (I make that important distinction of South because North Korea is also playing in the World Cup) is like the Superbowl to Americans.  It’s actually even crazier and more hyped up.  Koreans are DEVOTED World Cup fanatics!  (But quite honestly, they aren’t the hugest of soccer fans outside of World Cup time – preferring to watch professional baseball the majority of the time).

It’s nearly impossible to be living in Korea (especially a bigger city like Daegu) and not get swept up into the fever.  The pride Koreans show for their country’s team is unparalleled to anything else I’ve ever seen. 

My first ever World Cup game watching was just 10 days ago: Korea vs Greece.  Micah and I decided to head to downtown Daegu and watch the game on the huge big screen TV mounted at the central part of downtown.  The streets were packed with thousands of Koreans – all there to crane their necks – and watch the opening game for Korea. It was quite the sight.  We couldn’t even meet up with our other friends because we literally couldn’t move.  And multiply this by ten – and that was what Seoul was like.

SAM_2094

Huge TV screen installed purposely to watch the Korean World Cup team.  And restaurants and coffee shops all over were also installing TVs (or more TVs) for this exact purpose.

   

SAM_2095  Justin Bieber concert?  No…World Cup time!  Go Korea!

  

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Korea beat Greece 2-0.  With every shot at goal or good save by the goalie, the Koreans went into unison shouts of cheer.  Particularly popular is the chant: “Dae Han Min Guk” – which translates to ‘The Republic of Korea.’  The atmosphere was electric and everyone was in high spirits after the win.  It was exciting to be a part of this.

 

SAM_2081

Shirts like these – and hundreds of other styles – can be found all over the streets of Korea.  No guarantee the English will be correct though.  🙂

  

So…back to soccer.  With the help of my friends here, I’ve been able to steadily learn more and more about the game.  If I’m going to watch Korea play, then for sure I’m going to watch America play.  Add up those games, and that’s a fair number of hours I’m sitting in front of a TV watching a game I know nothing about.  So, in true Lisa style – I began my mission to learn more about World Cup and the game itself (at least the basics and a few interesting tidbits too), which in turn has made watching the games much more enjoyable – fun even! 

My ongoing World Cup knowledge and feelings:

  • 32 countries compete in the World Cup – each had to qualify via a series of tournaments organized by FIFA.  205 teams entered the qualification tournaments.  Whoa – that’s about a 16% acceptance rate. 
  • Without going into details, each team is put into one of eight brackets along with three other teams.  In the first round of play, these four teams all play each other – and only each other.  And the top two teams in each bracket (based on a scoring system I’m still getting the jist of) will move on to the next round of play. 
  • Italy was the World Cup champion in 2006 – and apparently are pretty damn awesome.  And so are Argentina, Brazil, the Netherlands and Spain (although Spain was upset in Game 1 by Switzerland).  Yes, I know there are other very good teams competing – but these are the ones that stick out from the little amount I have learned.  Sheesh – calm down! 🙂
  • I still don’t know much about Team USA.  But I do know the son of the head coach is on the team.  And the goalie, Tim Howard, is apparently said to be the best goalie of all the World Cup teams.  Woo hoo!  And there is a player named Hercules Gomez – how cool is that?
  • Soccer players are excellent actors.  The way they can flop around and make a simple push or trip look like they’ve been tackled by a 300 pound lineman is quite impressive.
  • There are lots of yellow cards, a few red cards, lots of penalty kicks, and a gazillion rules about this and that.  I’m slowly starting to understand the game more – and see the game beyond a black and white ball being kicked around.  🙂
  • David Beckham is not competing in the World Cup.  But Wayne Rooney and Park JiSung are! 🙂

With each game I watch, I learn more and more.  Game 2 for the US (vs Slovenia) was so awesome to watch.  Team USA was down 2 goals, and they came back to tie (although it should have been a win!  Grrrr!!!!). 

Unfortunately, due to the time zone difference (and all games are aired live), in Korea the games are on at 8:30pm, 11:00pm, or 3:30am.  Yikes.  In fact, the next Korea game (a HUGE game for them) is on Wednesday at 3:30am.  And you know it – that pesky game time isn’t going to stop the Korean fans from watching.  (But, it’s definitely stopping ME from watching).  In fact, my elementary students are staying up to watch…and then be in school at 8:30am!  That’s going to be a really enjoyable day to teach. 🙂

SAM_2106

Maybe I’ll get up to check out a few minutes of the Korea game – on my cell phone!  Pretty sweet.

You never know, maybe when we get back to Seattle – I might actually come home a soccer fan – and I might even check out a Seattle Sounders game.  Go Korea! Go Team USA!!!!!

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6 Responses to “I’ve been forced to like soccer”


  1. 1 Adam June 21, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    You should definitely, DEFINITELY go to a Sounders game! The crowds are amazing… It is unlike any other sports experience in America. Everyone in the 100-level seats stands for the entire match and the south end goes crazy like a party all game long.

    See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6Ml9RwnjL0

    BTW, korea is playing very well. In case you didn’t know, they hosted the World Cup in 2002 and beat Italy and Spain in shocking upsets to reach the semifinals.

  2. 2 Mark Z June 23, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Ahhhh, I’m so jealous Lisa! I was in Seoul in 2002 during the 3rd place game where Korea played Turkey–it was insane! Grrr, I should have stayed for the summer! 😛

  3. 3 madeerylou June 24, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Hi I just wanted to say I really like your blog! Do you mind if I add a link to your blog on my blog? I’m also an English teacher in Daegu :). Thanks!

  4. 4 muchadoaboutlisa June 24, 2010 at 11:56 am

    @Adam: Thanks for the link. It’s nice to see the Seattlelites get crazy for something sports-related. But how is it this year? The Sounders aren’t doing so well.

    @Mark: I CAN’T even imagine Seoul in 2002. What an awesome experience!!! The next matchup for Korea is pretty freakin’ hard. But how awesome would a Korea vs USA match up be?!

    @Madeerylou: Of course! What is your blog? Thanks for stoppin’ by.

  5. 5 madeerylou June 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks! My blog is http://www.diegotodaegu.wordpress.com. I just added a link to your blog!

  6. 6 Mark Z June 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Yeah, Uruguay will be tough, but I think they’re beatable, especially if qw play the way we did against Greece. And I think we can beat Ghana, too. But a USA-Korea matchup? That’s my worst nightmare! I won’t know who to root for…either way there will be major heartbreak.


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