It's official. World Cup fever is in full swing, and I've totally caught it. YEAH!
I'm not a particularly huge fan of football (aka soccer here in NA) as a whole... I mean, I enjoy watching the game, but I don't rearrange my schedule based on TSN's coverage of the Man U season or anything. But the World Cup is a different kettle of fish all together.
My first World Cup was in 1998. I was in Greece, and really, there's no better place to be during the World Cup than a country that really and truly loves its football. It was amazing. I was in Athens during the quarter-finals. I have no idea who was playing, but it didn't really matter. One evening, the group of people I was with was hot on the trail of dinner when we stumbled upon an out-door restaraunt. The wrought-iron tables and chairs were literally set up in the street, there was a massive television propped against the wall, and the game was on. As the cook handed us our lamb souvlaki through the window, he yelled something in Greek at the screen with a considerable amount of vitriol. Just then, a huge roar of mixed pleasure and anguish was issued from the crowd of sixty or so folks watching the game.
Our group pulled up a table or two, sat down with our souvlakis and cokes and just took it all in. The atmosphere was electric, and I can't believe that I got to experience it. Now, when I watch a football match I can almost feel the energy coming through the screen. Magic.
So enjoy, folks! It'll be another four years before we get to feel the magic again!
PS- I would also like to note that FIFA makes a point of utilizing the World Cup for humanitarian gains- every World Cup they launch a new campaign. In 2002, it was an anti-child labour campaign (as the majority of the worlds footballs are hand sewn by children in Pakistan, I thought this was appropriate). This year, it's a campaign against racism. Check out FIFA's website (under FIFA Fair Play) for more information.