I, like a growing number of Americans, am obsessed with soccer. I’m so crazy about the sport, I call it football, real football. I love the physical nature of the sport, the intensity required to excel at the sport, and the brotherhood associated with the sport. I make no excuses for my fatal attraction to international football. I have been a fan forever. However, lately I’ve been accused of being a traitor. You see, I don’t follow American soccer; I follow Italian football. In fact, I LOVE ITALIAN FOOTBALL!!!! There, I said it!
Am I a traitor? Consider this:
1. American major league soccer didn’t come into the mainstream until 1996, its opening season.
2. America wasn’t even taken seriously as a contender in any of the previous WorldCup Challenges.
3. Many good American football players are playing in foreign leagues.
4. The most well known American soccer player is David Beckham, a non-American
If I’m a traitor its because I had no choice. I loved the game before my fellow countrymen allowed it its due respect. In essence, because I have always loved the game (as early as the 1980s), I was a girl without a country. In order to get my fill of it, I had to look for a country that loved football as much as I did. The country I found was Italy.
Italian football is dated as early as 1200-1300 A.D. Definitely one of the super powers of the sport, the Italians traditionally combined football with rugby. It doesn’t get more physical than that!
Edoardo Bosio is probably credited with developing football in Italy as it is now played and what a development it was. The Italians are always contenders; I will always have a team to cheer on. The intensity brought to the field by the Italians cannot be denied. I’ve always expressed my disappointment that Fabio is Coaching in England; he belongs in Italy but “Questa è la vita.” As for my country, I wish them well. I still believe we have a few years to go before we are true contenders and before we gain the respect of other countries. Our ending in the England match on Saturday was due only to the misfortune of England’s goalie and our strong defense. That’s fact, not my disdain for my country. No disrespect intended.
As for my love of Italy, I will not apologize. I hope they win. I hope they play the greatest matches I’ve ever seen. I hope I don’t miss a single highlight. Am I a traitor? No, I am not. I am an American who LOVES football and I choose to support a team who has given me decades of pleasure and a sense of pride that can only come from loving something unconditionally. Ok and yes, there is my obsession with Gianluca. But who can blame me; the man is beautiful beyond words. At any rate, cheer for whomever you like but get in the game. Football or soccer is in America to stay. While I’ll never abandon Italy, I do look forward to the day when I can say, America just might take it this year.