Everything you need to know about soccer

Laurie Sontag

Every four years the entire planet goes bananas about soccer. Except the United States, of course. Because while the entire planet is obsessed with football, we are not. Well, not the soccer kind of football at least.
In fact, if you are like me, your main exposure to the sport has been getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning to watch a bunch of 5-year-olds group themselves into a cluster and chase a ball around Christmas Hill Park. Of course, that’s my main exposure to any kind of sport, so obviously your results may vary.
In any event, this whole World Cup thing is getting a lot of coverage on the news. So in the interest of making the South Valley a more knowledgeable place, I consulted with soccerarians on the vast information highway and I came up with these tidbits to make you seem more knowledgeable when you are at Stubby’s watching a game.
1. There are real soccerarians in this world.
I seriously did not make this word up—although if I had to make up a word to describe experts on soccer, it’s so a word I would have chosen. I mean, what’s not to like about it? It’s a bit of a tongue twister and kind of sounds like something out of Game of Thrones. As in, “By the Gods old and new, the soccerarians are breaching the wall!” OK, maybe not.
2. The original name of soccer was, ironically, “soccer.”
Go figure. We Americans are actually using a word correctly. Clearly, it is the rest of the planet that is wrong. Ahem.
3. Actually, it’s a good thing everyone else calls it “football.”
Apparently, soccer was actually called “Association Soccer” originally. Yeah. Then the name was shortened, because really? The name “Association Soccer” doesn’t really roll off the tongue, much like soccerarian. Sadly, it became a word I can’t say in a newspaper, but let me give you a hint: remove the “ociation” part and combine it with soccer. And that’s why they call it football.
4. There is something called an “own goal” in soccer and it’s not a good thing.
If you are like me, perhaps you assumed this was something good, as in “We owned that goal!” Sadly, no. An “own goal” is when you score against your own team. This is not a good thing and apparently only gets you ridiculed in the world press. Nothing like messing up in front of the entire planet.
5. The World Cup actually includes teams from the entire world.
Unlike the World Series, which usually features teams from such international and exotic locations as Boston or St. Louis, with an occasional Canadian team thrown in, the World Cup has teams from all over the world. Even countries I haven’t thought about since third grade, when I had geography with Sister Mary and she made us learn the names of every country on the planet, including the teeny tiny ones and some that no longer exist.
6. David Beckham is ridiculously good looking in real life.
Seriously, I once saw him at Disneyland. The man is gorgeous. He even sounds gorgeous. If I weren’t so terrified of being thrown in jail, I would have sniffed him to verify that he smelled gorgeous too (don’t judge me, most of you would have done the same).
And now you know all about soccer. Or at least the important parts. So go out and watch the World Cup. Because it’s not over yet.
Laurie Sontag is a Gilroy writer and mom who wishes parenthood had come with a how-to-guide. You can contact her at [email protected]

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