How To Watch the World Cup When You Know Nothing About the World Cup

Sunday night/Monday morning I crawled out of bed at 1:30 a.m. and cycled (rather wobbly) into town for the World Cup final. After spending the day fighting off a fever most likely caused by the limited sleep I’d had after a three-day holiday weekend, it probably wasn’t the best idea. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone, though. Towards the end the whole of Charlie’s seemed to be cheering for whichever team would end the match.

Admittedly I knew nothing about football before the World Cup, but I didn’t let that stop me from diving in. While I am relieved to resume normal sleeping patterns (Dear FIFA, please take into account all time zones before scheduling matches. kthxbye.) I definitely learned a lot and had loads of sleep-deprived fun.

If you are the only Yank amongst a hodgepodge of Brits and Europeans, hopefully this will help your future World Cup viewing.

When in doubt, research.

When I realized how big of a deal the World Cup is to the, uh, world I spent some time getting familiar with the beautiful game. I read articles, watched promo videos, and memorized names of players I would inevitably be asked about:

“Can you even name two players on the U.S. team?”

“Why yes, I can!”

Since the majority of my friends hail from the land of tea and crumpets I decided to support England as well as the U.S. And by support I mean to say those were the games I dragged myself out of bed for. According to personal interviews England really didn’t stand a chance, but who doesn’t love supporting the underdog?

Ultimately, this is the only article I found remotely useful:

The 30 Hottest Bearded Men of the World Cup

Although this one was also a fun read:

53 Reasons the German World Cup Team Might Actually Be the Hottest World Cup Team

It was also the reason I decided rather than support an actual team, it would be more fun to cheer for an individual player. Team Schürrle, because:

Two words: face paint.

No one can doubt your dedication if you wear enough face paint. Try it, you’ll see. People will also stop you on the street and ask for a picture with you. If you want to go all in I would also recommend investing in a flag-cape. If you’re from the U.S. it will also come in handy for Independence Day festivities and looks pretty hardcore flapping behind you while you cycle down the street. I was basically Captain America.

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Fake it ‘til you make it.

Really, this is the only tip you need. After you’ve stayed up until 5 a.m. to watch a game in a crowded bar, no one is really testing you on the offside rule.

Simply hold your painted head high and play follow the leader:

Did your friend just scream and shout? Scream and shout!

Is music unrelated to football playing? It’s halftime. Go use the toilet.

Are the announcers getting excited? Prepare for something to happen. Even if the commentary is in Thai, you can tell if something big is going down.

Did someone get angry and smash a glass on the floor? Step away, Charlie is about to get pissed and throw them out. You don’t want to be associated with people Charlie doesn’t like.

Are people wearing similar colors cheering? Those are your people, CHEER!

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Participant observation at it’s best.

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