Zezu, que ce n’est pas vrai! (Your Mom, Ivan Bellman & the World Cup)
My Spanish language skills are about as good as my knowledge of professional sports. I know about five phrases in the worlds second most popular language, three of which involve taco . . . the other two involve your mother. However, this puts me squarely in line with the American Football (Soccer) Diaspora, as the majority of the U.S. doesnt really know what they are looking at. This INCLUDES the American commentators. So even though Yo No Ablo I still choose Telemundos coverage of the games over the idiotic sportscasters on ABC. (There is a ton of fanatical outrage if one wants to Google for it . . . the most impressive being NOTE TO ABC/ESPN EXECS: YOUR WORLD CUP COMMENTATORS BLOW!)
Now I am aware this site is primarily for more artsy-fartsy purposes. In addition, Mr. Roboto is prolly sick of me using CultureSlut to babble on about this and that which is only tangential to ‘Performance.’ Although if we look at the broader notion of ‘Kuhl-cha’ there is no greater global common denominator than soccer. Hey, just be thankful I stopped writing about basketball.
In defense of my transgression, there are definitive performance aspects to the game in question. When a player takes a dive to make it look like a foul was committed (oh . . . like Ronaldo from Portugal for example) it is referred to as ‘acting.’ Once upon a time, fans used to throw little rubber Academy Awards on the field if they thought a call or player was particularly filled with shit. (This is better than the banana peels that are thrown at black players accompanied by gorilla noises. As international as the game has become, racism seems to proliferate regardless.)
The personalized gesticulations made when players score also adds heightened theatricality to the world stage. This is oddly evocative of the touchdown endzone dances of yore. They became so elaborate I believe the NFL was compelled to enforce restrictions. Not sure. But the football that the rest of the world enjoys contains a cornucopia of victory gestures. My personal favorite is Peter Crouch from Britain who does a mean robot.
The Italian bad boy Totti sucked his thumb to give props to his newborn. When his wife was preggers he would stick the ball under his shirt and pantomime giving birth. The Italian gesture vocabulary is as ingrained as their proclivity for screaming to each other out of windows.
My I-tai friend Daniel AKA Serfanny AKA D-Nice is one of those fully assimilated Europeans who maintains his roots through footie. I turn to him when I am clueless about the sport as he watches the different European Leagues as well as the EuroCup, which is every two years. Daniel vacillates from being a mensch to an ornery, qua-lingual prick with authority issues. My favorite story about his punk-ass involves him acting in an Erik Ehn play with David Patrick Kelly. Serafanny would regularly torment DPK with quotes from his B-Movie past . . . “Warriors come out to play-ye-aay . . . ” or “Sauli, you remember when I said I would kill you last? I lied.”
I havent been here. So other than Daniele, who is religious in his support of the Italians, I dont know what the scene has been like . . . my guess is that sports fans Stateside lost interest when we got knocked out a little less than halfway through. There were articles describing how the U.S. team would be spit on and have cups piss dumped on them repeatedly. NOTE TO THE BUSH ADMINSTRATION: YOUR FOREIGN POLICY BLOWS & AMERICANS ABROAD SUFFER AS A RESULT!
‘Ironic,’ maybe isn’t the right word but there was something abnormal in the air after the U.S. played Italy. Early on elbows were exchanged while going for headers. After that, it was on. Three red cards and 90 minutes later it ended in a 1-1 tie (no O.T. in initial Group Play). The U.S. maybe garnered a little respect for playing tough against one of the best teams on the planet. Even now, after it is all said and done, we remain the only team in this World Cup Tournament to play Italy and not lose.
For some stupid reason, I got caught up in the French strikers. Ribéry, #22, reminds me of the b-ball player Steve Nash only not so pretty (this is being kind . . . homeboy has mad skills but is ugly like yo mama when the Botox wears off.) Theirry Henry, who plays for Arsenal in the British Leagues, is smooth like butter with his offense. To round off Les Blues awesome squad was Zinedine Zindane, affectionately nicknamed ‘Zizou,’ one of the greatest players to step on the pitch. This child of Algerian immigrants has won every major trophy possible and this World Cup was Zizous last tournament before retirement.
I watched a couple of games with Serafanny at Barbossa, a Brazilian bar in NoLiTa. Then he either sensed my dissension for Italy in my enthusiasm for France, my ignorance in the subtleties of the sport or he was just being a cock. Michael McWeird, JRock, his Scottish pseudo-brother-in law Malcom, along with this super-cute Italian P.S. 122 Intern were now without a place to watch the Finals.
The French place kitty-corner from Barbossa was booked. There was no way we were going to Fibis which just cant help but suck no matter how many times they remodel. So we ended up at Puck Fair, a fine Irish establishment with narry patron in site an hour before the pre-show. As we all scarfed down Blood Pudding and Guinness, our neutral sanctuary quickly filled to maximum capacity rendering it impossible to get out the door or to the bathroom.
I dont really have to recap the game. If you are remotely media conscious you know Italy defeated France in PKs after it was tied 1-1. Zindane, Frances best spot kicker, was not present for the shoot-out or the medal ceremony as he had received a red card in overtime.
From all this I learned what separates Sports Fans from Theater Fags . . . its the same reason I dont like casual sex (with your mother) anymore. I mean I just started watching soccer a month ago in the airports of Asia and Kebab joints in Turkey. So after Zizou head butted Materazzi in the 110th minute of the championship I shouldve just pounded another stout, try to pass as Italian and get into the cute Interns pants.
No. I was devastated. I still am. This guy was a Soccer God who I had just watched fall from Grace in the most unceremonious of fashions. It was a similar vibe when Beckham left the field with an injury and Rooney red-carded himself out of Britian’s final game. Rooney is a thug and has many matches in front of him if he stays healthy. No, this was deeper . . . a window into the souls of nations and how we identify ourselves as people. Nope. No more sports. And tell your mom to stop calling me.