Play soccer at home, with a supportive crowd.
Recently I had a chance to see an Earthquake game in San Jose.
A dear friend, one of the few who really understands what soccer needs to succeed in the U.S., invited me to one of the private suites at the top of the stadium. From there you can ‘almost’ get a clear idea of what is happening on the field and in the rest of the stadium.
I said ‘almost’, because the stadium, not being conceived for soccer, doesn’t let you see a couple of yards of the pitch on your side. It seems unbelievable but that’s the way it is, and I was at the top of the stadium. The closer you get to the field, the more the angle changes negatively and a minimum of 5 more yards disappear. The result is that sometimes, if the action is developing on the wings, players and ball disappear and reappear 50 or 60 yards forward, sometimes with the ball in the opponent team’s possession!
Aside from this absurdity, my wife and I arrived an hour early to be sure to be there on time.
Great suite, with appetizers and all the drinks you’d like (not alcoholic), that can accommodate 12 people very comfortably in three rows.
Time passed, the game began and no one else came to our suite. The stadium two thirds full, timid clapping here and there from the crowd, a few slogans sung altogether by a few hundred among 8,000 spectators.
At almost halftime, the rest of the guests arrived and literally ‘dove’ into the food, until the first half ended, without even asking for the score.
“Nice to meet you”, etc., etc. and so on. Second half. Attention to the game from the other guests in our suite? Between 0 and 30/40%.
You wouldn’t believe it! A woman sitting in the front row of our suite, kept talking with a few others (men and women) for the rest of the time, with her back turned to the field and the others gave her their attention!
We left the field 10 minutes before the end because EVERYTHING HAS A LIMIT.
By the way, on the field, a boring 0-0 tried to come to the end of the game. 0-0 is not boring if there are dozens of chances to score, but if nothing happens, it’s boring and the game was against Washington D.C.
I’ll give you some impressions from stadiums in Europe.
-When 50 thousand Liverpool fans sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone“, it’s something that’s moving even if you don’t understand ANYTHING about soccer.
-In Rome, when a penalty kick or simply a direct kick is awarded against Roma, 30 thousand fans behind the goal, raise and show Roma scarves stretched above their heads and begin to sing a continuous “HOOOOOOO…….”. It’s a kind of volcano ready to erupt and when you kick, you not only have to beat the keeper. You need to score against 30 thousand people. Believe me. It’s not easy!
-When 50 thousand supporters sing “MI-LAN….MI-LAN….MI-LAN….“ altogether, any of the A.C. Milan players, even if they are destroyed by fatigue or the frustration of a game that’s not going in the direction that was planned, find new energy and new motivation that no coach and no trainer in the world can give. What pushes them is the love for the jersey, for the city and for soccer that’s been there for more than a century!
-When a team scores, the word “goal” yelled altogether, is so liberating that you feel good for the rest of the week, just in time for the next game and, in the radius of a mile, all the window pains have a curious vibration.
Soccer is a very special drug. Against every other addiction, you can try to fight and if you have a good character you can win the battle, but………. not with soccer!
Sorry but you’ll never be ’rehabilitated’ from soccer. The good aspect is that, on the contrary to the other bad addictions, you can live for more than a hundred years.
Posted on 16 Jan 2006 by coachgianni