Once every four years I get sporty. While I do enjoy hockey, watching games when I can and happily cheering on the Chicago Blackhawks, I still wouldn't call myself a "sporty girl". However, when World Cup comes around, I get a fire in my belly for football (also the only time in life when I don't call it "soccer") that just can't be quenched. I do research, bookmark the FIFA website on my computer, print out match schedules and the official photos of my chosen team, actually watch the games and care about the outcomes, the whole nine yards. But first things first... Choosing which team to root for.
If neither of the nations of my bloodlines (Iceland and Austria) are playing, I am free to choose a team at my own discretion. No, I do not automatically choose America, although I'm not exactly sure why. I guess I just assume they won't win, so why waste my time? (Sorry, USA. Stars and stripes forever and all, but... yeah.) I only root for "Team USA" when they play against England, because it's my duty as a Yankee to do so. And speaking of England, even though they have an amazing team and look so handsome in their collared jerseys and speak with those adorable accents, I especially can't root for them this year, because now Iceland has beef with them too, so... Sorry guys. I may love your music, literature, radio, television, and most of your movies, but suffice it to say that lately, every time the ash cloud from Eyjafjallajökull shuts down London-Heathrow airport for days on end, well... I kinda smile. Moving on!
So I've read through all of the analyses of all of the Groups and which teams are pegged as favorites and such, but I still haven't been able to single out the one team to which I will give my heart for the duration of the Cup. I thought I might base my decision on whose bus slogan I liked best, but that didn't work out so well either. So here's who I've got my eye on so far.
Italy. Last year I chose Italy from the beginning (and Alberto Gilardino in particular, meow!), pinned their pictures all over my cubicle at work, made their famous underwear photo my computer's screensaver, followed the games I couldn't watch at home via the FIFA live feed on the internet, and then caught the final game where they laid claim to the Cup screaming and jumping up and down with my mother and sister in my parents' living room. Also, I adore Italian opera. Every time I hear any recording of Pavarotti singing "Nessun Dorma" I cry like a baby. Should I go with them again? I'm not sure. The team I choose has to have the right combination of technical skill and emotional pull. So Italy is still definitely in the running, but....
Brazil. I have a dearly beloved Brazilian friend, Claudia. I like Brazilian people, cachaça (and of course capirinhas), Carnaval, etc. I mean what's not to love about Brazil (besides soaring crime and poverty rates)? The whole world loves them! (Except for maybe Argentina.) They have the talent and the emotional pull for me. Plus if they win I can call Claudia and sceam into the phone with her. And their bus slogan is awesome: "Lotado! O Brasil inteiro está aqui dentro!/ The whole of Brazil is in here!" So they're definite contenders.
Chile. They have a really strong team this year, their bus slogan is great ("Roja la sangre de mi corazón, Chile campeón/ Red is the blood of my heart, Chile will be champion"), and my favorite poet of all time, Pablo Neruda, was Chilean. Plus, I just saw this thing on tv about the Colo Colo football club in Chile, from which I think many of their players were chosen, they've got this whole indigenous history that is amazing, and I've always wanted to go to Tierra del Fuego, so again. Skill + Emotion.
It's a tough call all around. Mexico is looking good this year too. I could go with Germany since it's close to Austria, but despite my love of Bavaria I just can't do it. Definitely not rooting for Denmark, the former oppressors of Iceland, and needless to say, the Netherlands are out. It's really down to Italy, Brazil, or Chile. The former flame, the amicable crowd-pleaser, or the edgy wild card with one of my literary gods behind them in spirit. WHAT SHOULD I DO? I'm actually a little stressed out about it. I'm running out of time! Perhaps the answer will come to me in a dream. I should get some sleep. World Cup team of choice! It might have to be a game-time decision. Oy!