Wednesday, June 14, 2006


It's World Cup time again and this country has gone insane with all out support for their soccer team. I like the Korean enthusiasm. Their fans did Korea proud in the last World Cup. Every Korean I know has been anticipating the World Cup for four years talking about how they're going to do even better than they did in 2002. With all the hype in this country you would think it would be easy for me to get into soccer. It's one of very few sports I just don't like. But I've been forcing myself to watch the qualifying matches, trying to remember key players' names and what pool they'll be in etc. I even went out last night to city hall here in Yangju, (or as the locals call it, "shitty hole"), where there was a big screen and a band in the back of a pick-up and about a thousand Yangjuians sporting their red "Corea Fighting!" shirts and their flashing red devil horns singing and chanting and drinking soju. It should be easy for me to catch the spirit, right? Don't get me wrong, I was pulling for Korea in their game against Togo last night. But it was too crowded at City Hall. I went to a bar closer to home where I could actually see the screen, drink some good beer and didn't have to stand. I'm not a big enough fan to make those sacrifices yet. Not even for the biggest sporting event in the world.
So I got a stool at the local Live Bar conveniently located about 150 yards from my apartment to watch Korea vs. Togo. I sat there drinking Heini Dark. I thought it a suitable beverage for the event since the consensus in this country was that Korea was going to kick some dark heini. It was pretty funny to see the panic at the end of the first half when Togo was up 1-0. But I assured my fellow cheerers that if Australia can come back from a 1-0 deficit against Japan and win 3-1 the night before, (see? I'm watching the games!), Korea could do the same.
Not far into the second half Korea was up 2-1 and the place was going berserk, but I, being not quite swept away by the glory of that fact, noticed something very strange. I saw several instances when Togo, (in yellow), sent two guys into the Korean zone to face about 8 Korean defenders. It just didn't make sense to me. Where were the other yellow shirts? For the remainder of the game Togo played very defensively. The most I saw were three yellow shirts in the Korean zone for half the second half!
Now I realize that one of the Togo players had received a red card and was booted off the field but shouldn't there have been two or three defenders in the Togo zone and the rest at least at midfield? I mean once they were down by a goal of course. But it looked like they were happy with the 2-1 score. And that was the final. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I couldn't imagine anything stranger in soccer.
Then I went home and watched the France/Switzerland game. Did anyone stay up late like I did for that GEM? OH MY GOD Magnum! What a yawner! BOTH teams were playing Togo style sending 2 or maybe 3 guys into the offensive zone to try to score. THE WHOLE GAME! Like they wanted a 0-0 tie! And of course they got it. And I stayed up till 3 or 4 am to see this travesty! I should have waited till today because, classic soccer battle that it was, it is being replayed and replayed today all over Korean TV.
How can people call this sport "the beautiful game"? As far as I'm concerned when an athlete or coach is more concerned with stopping the other team from scoring than helping his own team to score, particularly when his team is losing, he is a PUSSY and he should give up on sport and become a life insurance salesman. And it's never been beautiful to me to watch these well trained actors getting grazed by an opponent's cleat and going down like they were shot by a sniper. Even waiting for the stretcher to carry them off and then bounding back onto the field immediately like a gazelle. And how can even a loyal supporter cheer when a goal is scored on a penalty kick given for an Academy Award performance like that?
I know I'm in the minority on this but I think soccer sucks. If anything the World Cup is making me hate it more. It's only the most popular sport in the world because no matter how poor you are, you can tie a few shirts together for a ball and you can play it. But that's just my opinion.
Corea fighting. :(

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