Anne Applebaum: “Outside the stadium that day, soccer mania had gripped the nation--and it is a mistake to imagine that only the hooligans temporarily turn into chauvinistic nationalists on the day of an England match. Otherwise well-behaved friends of mine were genuinely outraged that I, a mere foreigner, had received a press ticket. Germany jokes, usually involving the Nazis, were all the rage. One was attributed to Mrs. Thatcher, who upon being told that Germany had defeated England (which they did, of course) had allegedly replied, 'They may have beat us at our national game, but we beat them twice at their national game in the 20th century.'”
The World Cup, I realized today, interests me not. Sure, it happens once every four years, and I used to believe I was interested, having played the game and since I actually understand the offside rule. Early morning start times (here anyway), the scene of dejected Italy fans on Commercial Drive blaming the ref for their team's loss (oh so cliché) and no idea which team to cheer for (I lose interest in playoffs when the team I'm cheering for gets kicked out anyway) lead to disinterest on my part. The final game will be the only game I watch in full, but I'm not even sure about that.