The 2010 World Cup is over. I have spent the past month glued to my computer at work and ESPN 360, as well as my television at home. An incredible and wonderful distraction. And my beloved boys in red have taken the World Cup. Viva Espana! While they frightened their believers with their initial loss in the tournament, they held strong with fluid passing, the Barcelona 7, and the consistent striking of David Villa. Yes, Viva La Furia Roja!
While I have always admired the game of futbol, soccer to most Americans, I did not become a true fan until the 2006 World Cup. It was my first World Cup I followed in its entirety. Coming from a family of sports fanatics, I knew the teams, I knew the key players, I knew some of the rules, I definitely was aware of the powerhouses: Brazil, Italy, England, Argentina…and I knew the games roots from Pele to the tragedy of Columbia. But in 2006, a spark was ignited. There is beauty in this game. And stamina. I will argue with any sports fan that a futbol player is better conditioned than any of our pampered athletes, be it basketball or football, and definitely baseball.
So, I eagerly awaited June 2010 and the arrival of the World Cup in South Africa. What a spectacle. South Africa truly ignited this tournament, welcoming the world. And I awaited La Roja to take the field and the cup. I began following Spain on a much closer level beginning in 2006. I consider my loyalties divided: Spain is the motherland of my father’s family, Mexico my mother’s family, and I am a US citizen. But my blood runs deep in my roots. So, I cheer Spain first and foremost. Mexico and the US are both very close seconds. I did not anticipate cheering for any other nation, except for the host nation. Until…
The National Team of Uruguay and Diego Forlan. This mighty underdog team was not even considered to win the first grouping, but with the skill and leadership of Forlan, Uruguay advanced all the way to the game for 3rd place, losing to Germany. Ah, La Celeste stole my heart during these games with their gritty play and their unwavering belief that they could win it all. And this is why I love this tournament.
I miss it already. I miss checking the schedule for game times and teams, group play, and filling out my bracket (yes, a bracket). I miss the colors and song of the fans, the delirium, the tension. This is a game of beauty and rhythm, of skill and agility, of strength and belief. This tournament brings passion, unification, and a complete surrender of self. And yes, I even miss the vuvuzelas. I can hear them now. So, I wait four more years, until the World Cup returns in 2014 in Brazil. What I would give to go, to be a part of the carnivale. To wave my own flag. My own colors. My own.