American fans are winning the World Cup

I’m enjoying this World Cup more than the last. Not because my national team is doing well - it’s England, they’re out already - but because I’m watching this tournament from America. Or perhaps more so, because I’m not watching this tournament from France.

Americans are the global newcomers to football. ‘Soccer,’ the old-fashioned name by which it goes here, has long been treated as something of an exotism; a certain import, an all non-American sport favoured by immigrants and the contrary. A few decades ago, it would have been a challenge to follow the Cup in the States without cable TV.

But today, the soccer scene has all but gone mainstream. As Will Leitch put it in the New York magazine earlier this month: “Soccer is about to explode in America, and the US soccer team is an indie band right before they break out.” 

We’re not there yet. The delirium that takes hold of large swathes of Europe, Africa, South America and even Asia every four years - three Chinese people have actually died from late-night World Cup fever and two suicides have been attributed to the tournament in the past week - is less pathological here. 

Which is a welcome relief. I watched the last World Cup from France. The one before that, Spain. And the one before that, England. Spain wasn’t so bad, save for what seemed like a universal post-victory compulsion to ride your scooter on the pavement. The English (except for the truly detestable hooligans, who are generally avoidable by choice of venue), are largely cringe-inducing, as they weep from a bar stool or file out of the pub in silence, resigned to a sense of perpetual injustice. But the French. Well.

Nobody likes to watch football with the French. As I endured France’s trashing of Switzerland in a sports bar in Manhattan last Friday, one of the bartenders winced as a group of French fans at the other end of the bar screeched excitedly and hurled insults at nobody in particular, eyes fixed manically on the TV screen for what seemed like the entire 90 minutes. “French fans don’t drink, don’t tip, and they bring a bad atmosphere,” she complained.

The Americans, on the other hand, are pretty good at drinking, great at tipping (naturally) and infectiously good humoured about this whole World Cup thing.

They can be infantile, sure. During their match with Portugal on Sunday one man in the pub insisted on shouting “best player in the world, ha!” each time Ronaldo failed to live up to that accolade. There is a lot of laughter, too, which is grating. I do not consider myself a serious football fan (at least not since Nottingham Forest were kicked out of the Premier League in 1999), so I was surprised to find myself infuriated by ripples of laughter during matches.

But their eagerness to understand the points system and what exactly constitutes a foul; failure to lambast a player who misses a pass; and general commitment to the tournament despite having just met most of their own squad last week, is endearing. Even inspiring. If only they could cut it with hollering “USA, USA,” as though Osama bin Laden had just been killed all over again, I might even support Team USA myself.
Tags for all blogs :
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of FRANCE 24. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. FRANCE 24 is not liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.
Interesting dynamic in my house as to what team we root for when it comes to the World Cup: I am American, but my ex husband is Spanish and futbol (and the World Cup) is sacred for Spaniards. So, for years, even after my divorce, my kids and I have always rooted for the Spanish team (being in Grenada for the last World Cup and one Euro Cup only bolstered our fervor). But, fast forward five years and I re-married an American who, despite being more of a Phillies baseball fan, has taken to liking futbol, and has, without hesitation, always supported the rule of my house: root for the Spaniards when it comes to soccer. Well, all went according to plan this world cup until Spain was out, and until team USA inched closer to the next stage. My beloved hubby, naturally, thought it would be safe, if not patriotic, to start to root for our home team. ANd yet, there was a huge backlash in our house, despite me being 100 percent American and my kids being half American. What's worse is that his own kids joined in on the backlash and everyone rooted not for team USA, but Ghana instead. Hubby was dumbstruck. He couldn't figure out why a household of Americans wasn't rooting for the USA team. The problem is that a lack of national pride is an inherently American characteristic. While many, many Americans are hugely patriotic, many are not. Many side with their country of origin, or a parent's country of origin. I, for example, am a third generation Italian whose mother is (was) rooting for Italy. My kids' father is from Madrid and thus, they feel patriotic toward Spain. Secondly, USA is NEW to the World Cup. My oldest son, in fact, didn't feel as though team USA had yet earned his support. And lastly, half the fun of watching this particular sport is to forge allegiances with other countries. At any rate, by the time USA played Portugal and we were over crying about Spain, we did start to show some love for our home team. You gotta give the USA credit for diving into a game that is deluged with soccer players the world over whose blood runs thick with the sport. But it took a while. For us, at least. And I suppose in that instance, the "newcomers" had earned some respect from our little family. But they still have a ways to go. USA has to pay their dues. In the meantime, now that Spain is out, I’m free to root for France, my lifelong love. And despite the fact that I have no ties to France, no relatives, and no reason to be there except for a vacation from time to time, for me, it all boils down to the people, the language, and the culture. Put me in a bar with screaming Frenchmen any day and I’m a happy girl!
Its nonsense that soccer is at a tipping point in America. We've been hearing this for years. The problem is American media, advertising, TV contracts. Television drives everything. In America, its incompatible with guys running non-stop, no time outs, no change overs/change of possessions, etc.
I am not sure to understand what is the point of this article and I am puzzled it even got publiched at all.. It does not contain any information of any kind, it is only condescendent for Americans and full of free hate for French.. I don't mind Frenchbashing when at least it is made in a funny and ironic way, which is not the case! This article is just and simply a total failure !!France 24 you should ensure a bit the quality/added value of the articles you publish for your own credibility
Sure American tips with money they don't have and drink disgusting piss-like budweiser. I party with my foes in Europe and Africa who surely respect other nations and know how to party. Saying nobody likes to watch football with French, is just talking for yourself, Since I was born I was in a different country during every world cup and everyone enjoyed watching football with others, except Americans. If you don't like Europe, fine yo have the right, but stop Euro-bashing, you're writting papers for FRANCE24 not USA24.
Most of this is true. American soccer/football culture is relatively young. The stupid chanting goes back to the 1980 Olympic Ice Hockey victory over the Soviet Union. The USA has yet to find other ways of expressing its jubilation. Americans have to learn to sing when they are winning. There are no concepts of this in USA sports-fandom, and certainly no traditional fan songs. I suppose all of this will come in due course. I just hope my compatriots will not blindly adopt the culture and traditions of the UK and elsewhere, of which they have been justly accused in recent weeks. They should come up with their own traditions to pass down to the coming generations, and remain unique.
Dear Sophie Pilgrim, You are fined 1,000 dollars and a round of drinks. For every French person in New York. The French Bashing Police Unit
What an ugly and stinky excuse for an article. Even when taking parts of this piece quite not so literally and with a pinch of salt, it still leaves the reader uneasy and a bit embarrassed for its writer. A bit like when a loud uncle just finished a series of inappropriate jokes or a slightly racist rant at the dinner table. If it is meant to be funny or entertaining its clearly not functioning, there is no wit, no comical dynamic, not much at all to be honest. The only thing remaining, it seems, is an addition of disgusting clichés and prejudices through which the author blithely generalize the behavior of a few she supposedly encountered into a value judgment applicable to a people from a country as a whole. At the risk of sounding judgmental myself, I can't shake the feeling that from this type of rotten thinking were crafted the worst thoughts. Would we be cut from the same deck, I'd probably conclude here that British people usually express a complex of inferiority through an overly pretentious vomit of condescending comments towards the US and hateful ones towards the French. We are not. And I know too many Brits to mistake this disappointing piece for anything else than the expression of one narrow minded spirit. Cheers Sophie, keep it up
The French aren't that bad! Bad I'm glad you (and the Americans) are having a fun World Cup over there. Cheers!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • No HTML tags allowed

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.