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Posted by on Jun 11, 2010 in Arts & Entertainment, International, Places, Society | 0 comments

Every Four Years: “Viva el Fútbol”


As a native of Latin America and after having lived in Europe during my “formative years,” fútbol of course became my favorite team sport.

But after many years of having been “brainwashed” in America—especially at Texas A&M when that great university was in its college football heyday in the 1960s—this other fútbol, “fútbol Americano,” became my favorite, except for every four years.

That “every-four-years” is here again.

The 2010 FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup championship started this morning in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In this World Cup, 32 countries, including the USA, will vie for fútbol’s most coveted prize in what is the most-watched event on the planet.

The extravaganza began with this morning’s Mexico-South Africa opening game.

Unfortunately, I am writing this at approximately 30,000 feet on my way to a young nephew’s Bar Mitzvah and can not watch it.

However, as somewhat of a consolation, American Airlines’ “American Way” magazine just happened to have a very delightful take on the World Cup.

I am sure the aficionados amongst our readers have already read every piece of commentary, gossip, statistics (such as the excellent charts in this morning’s New York Times) and predictions (such as in today’s USA Today) surrounding the World Cup. However, the American Airlines piece is, as I said, delightfully different. I will summarize it here for those who have not flown on AA recently.

The article, “World Cup Breakdown,” breaks the World Cup into half a dozen unique categories:

The “Contenders”: Spain, Brazil, England and Italy.

The “Pretenders”: Argentina, Germany and the Netherlands.

The “Spoilers”: France, Mexico, Paraguay.

Under the “Out of Africa” category: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria.

Then there is the dubious “Don’t Necessarily Bet the Farm” category including Australia, Greece, Denmark, Chile and Uruguay.

Finally, in the “It’s been a long, long time” category: Honduras, New Zealand, Algeria and North Korea.

The article does not say much about the USA team or its prospects, except for the comment that “Slovenia has its work cut out against Group C favorites England and the U.S….”

But not to worry, USA Today has plenty to say about the USA team and its prospects, such as “amid the unprecedented buildup of the USA’s World Cup opener against England [tomorrow], a reminder: A loss won’t mean the end for either team.”

That’s encouraging because the last time the USA beat England in the World Cup, “one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history,” was 60 years ago.

The USA plays England tomorrow, Slovenia on June 18 and Algeria on June 23.

Because of a somewhat complicated point and “round advancement” system, a team can still advance after two losses, so there is always hope.

The World Cup that kicked off today will go on for 31 glorious days and nights.

Who will win the World Cup?

Of course no one knows, but some experts pick Brazil, Spain or Argentina, but don’t rule out “quiet Uruguay and unreliable Netherlands…and don’t discount the six African [host] nations.

Enjoy!

Image: Courtesy, African-safari-and-travel-advisor.com

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