The RealExciting Reason for This Website

Yesterday I promised an audio surprise for the readers of this website.  This audio surprise is, in fact, the reason I created this website.  I have talked a little bit about my experience watching the 1998 World Cup in Brazil with Brazilians hereOne of the most enchanting things about that experience for me was listening to Brazilian play-by-play.  Fast paced.  Passionate.  Rhythmic.  Goal calls that would give you goose bumps. 

When I got back to the United States to watch the rest of the 1998 World Cup, something was missing.  It didn’t feel quite the same.  I didn’t realize until later that the play-by-play that I experienced in Brazil was part of what made soccer so exciting for me.  After recognizing the difference some years later, I came to the realization that soccer play-by-play in English is rather boring.  Either you have Englishmen who are reserved or Americans who have converted over from other sports.  And neither one of them delivers the passion and rhythm that our Latin American and Brazilian neighbors do.  I’ve listened to A LOT of Brazilian play-by-play over the past couple of years.  Which then caused me to sit in my living room to see if I could do what they do in English.  I’m still pretty green.  But it’s coming along.  It’s to the point that I’m tired of sitting in my living room feeling silly by calling soccer matches for nobody.  It’s time to get my play-by-play out there.  Which is why I started this website.  Technical difficulties have now been resolved.

So without further ado, I give you my RealExcitingSoccer play-by-play of a certain soccer match that took place yesterday.  If you still have it on your DVR, watch it RealExcitingSoccer style.  Any feedback you wanna give me in the comments section would be much appreciated.  Enjoy!

RealExcitingSoccer’s Inaugural Play-by-Play Podcast

Alegria Pura: Reactions from Around Brazil to Neymar’s First Goal

The first time I really got into the World Cup, I was living in Brazil in 1998.  The reactions of the people to goals, the fireworks, Brazilian National Team announcer Galvão Bueno‘s play by play and goal calls.  It was all breathtakingly joyous.  Alegria pura.  Pure Joy.  Truthfully, when I got back to the United States, something was missing from my soccer experience.

The piece below at the New York Times shows the reactions of Brazilians around the country to the first goal scored in today’s match by Neymar.

Click here to see the New York Times’ interactive video.

That brought back the joy I first experienced in 1998 while watching the World Cup with Brazilians in Brazil.  Tip o’ the hat to law school collegue Scott Wessman for sharing it.

 

The 2014 World Cup Is Here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Today is the first day of the 2014 World Cup!  Later today, Brazil and Croatia kick off the tournament at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo.  Leave a comment with your predictions!  Who do you think will with the World Cup?  Will a European team finally win in South America?  Will Brazil avenge their 1950 loss on home soil in the final?  Will an African team surprise us all this year?  Will the USMNT get out of the group of death?  So many story lines.  So much to watch.  This is the best time of every four years!  What are you most looking forward to?

This is a new website, so I’m still figuring things out.  But I encourage you to DVR today’s match and then to check this space later this evening.  There will be an audio surprise waiting for you that will change the rhythm at which you experience the Beautiful Game in the English language.

When It Comes to the World Cup, John Oliver Tells It Like It Is

People who know me know that I love Brazil.  They know that I love soccer.  So they’ve asked me, “Are you going to the World Cup?”  And my usual response is, “I did my life wrong.  I’m not going.”  But, at the end of the day, there was a moment about six months ago when I had to decide if I was going to scrape the funds together to go.  I was well aware of the protests that went on in Brazil during the 2013 Confederations Cup, the “rehearsal” event for the World Cup the following year.  I have enough Brazilian friends who have told me that they feel that the average Brazilian gets no benefit from the World Cup coming to the country.  I have seen the embarrassing quotes from legendary Brazilian soccer icon Ronaldo who, in response to protesters’ cries for spending to build better infrastructure instead of better soccer stadiums, said that “you can’t host a World Cup with better hospitals and schools.”  But I love soccer!  So I felt an extreme sense of conflict about whether to go or not.  Despite the spectacle of the World Cup, part of me would also rather go to Brazil when it’s not so full of tourists.  In the end, I decided not to go.  It’s a decision that I partially regret and partially am at peace with.  But HBO’s John Oliver has perfectly captured the conflict that many soccer fans feel as they try to balance their love of the Beautiful Game with the atrocities and corruption rampant in soccer’s governing body, FIFA. Enjoy!

 

EDIT: After watching the Ronaldo link that shows all of his goals, I have to say that it will be a real shame if Germany’s Miroslav Klose breaks Ronaldo’s all-time goal record.  It would be sort of like Karl Malone breaking Kareem’s all-time points record in the NBA (sorry Jazz fans).  Unless Germany wins the World Cup.  Then it would be like John Elway winning his Super Bowls.  But all of that is another topic entirely.

Brazilian Club Team to Iran: Please Don’t Let Your National Pride Interfere with the Hate We Feel for Our Biggest Rival

The Iranian Men’s National Team qualified for the World Cup by finishing at the top of their group during Asian qualifying.  Iran will be playing in Group F with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Nigeria.  Along with Argentina, who are sure to get through to the knock-out round, Iran stands a fair chance of advancing out of group play.  Iran’s colors, which I promise are a significant part of this story, are red, white, and green.

When teams go to the World Cup, they choose a “home base,” a place where the team can train and feel at home.  Often, these home bases are the training facilities of local club teams.  Iran has set up their home base at the training facilities of Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, better known simply as Corinthians.  Corinthians is currently the biggest club team in Brazil.  They boast the most fans, have recently won a string of major titles–including both the Copa Libertadores (South American Club Championship) and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2012, and have a beautiful new stadium that will host six World Cup matches, including the opener between Brazil and Croatia on Thursday.  Corinthians is a force to be reckoned with.  Their nickname, “O Timão,” meaning “the big” or “the great team,” even speaks to the grandeur with which their fans see them.

Other than being, perhaps, the biggest club in South America, Corinthians and its fans are known for being particularly passionate.  This passion for all things Corinthians, however, reached a level of ridiculousness this week that deserves to be mentioned.  Corinthians’ biggest rival is Palmeiras, a club that I wrote about here Palmeiras‘ nickname is “O Verdão,” meaning “the Big Green.”  Corinthians hates the color green.  In fact, the club hates it so much that they tried, and failed, to get FIFA to ban its use on Corinthians’ uniforms during the FIFA Club World Cup.  Clubs were required to wear a predominantly-green logo for “Football for Hope” in the tournament that year.

All of this green hate has spilled over into Iran’s use of Corinthians’ practice facilities.  Now, Iran’s home kits are white with red and green trim.  Iran’s away jerseys are red with green and white trim.  Apparently, however, Iran’s practice kits are green.  You can see where this is going, right?  According to Fox Sports Brazil, Corinthians has required that Iran forego the use of their green practice kits while using Corinthians’ facilities in order to avoid the use of their rivals’ colors.  Umm, what?  Shouldn’t Corinthians have looked into Iran’s colors before agreeing to allow the team to use their facilities?  In response, Palmeiras fans have called for the extension of an invitation to the Iranian National Team to use Palmeiras’ facilities where, obviously, the use of a green shirt will not be a problem.  One commentator in the media has suggested that Corinthians should request that the grass at their facility be painted blue.  Hey!  That’s been done before!

However this turns out, RealExcitingSoccer.com wishes Iran all the best in the World Cup.

Soccer Culture: Supporters Chants, Songs, and Anthems

A little over a year ago, Rancid drummer and huge Real Salt Lake supporter Brandon Steineckert forever changed the supporter culture at Real Salt Lake by introducing the world to RSL’s Believe chant, which the club has now adopted as its official anthem.  Soccer chants, songs, and anthems are an integral part of soccer culture around the world.  The songs and chants unify fans and spur the teams’ players on during matches.

This past week, Steineckert did it again when he introduced a new chant for the U.S. Men’s National Team (lovingly referred to in print as the USMNT by supporters and journalists).  I, personally, think that the chant is well done:

The USMNT finally has a unifying chant that is catchy, memorable, and unique. Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of negativity about the chant on the internet (because there’s no sure sign of success like internet haterade . . . well, unless you’re this).  Some complain that the chant sounds too much like “Believe.”  Some complain that it is too long and that casual fans or even the American Outlaws (one of the USMNT’s most ardent supporters groups) will never take the time to memorize it.  Some complain that the new chant is too “top down,” that soccer chants need to grow organically out of the experiences of the  fans at matches, the way that “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was adopted by Liverpool fans at Anfield in the early 1960s.  But this is the 21st Century.  We communicated via Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and many other social media networks.  If the best way to get “We Stand United” out to the people is via social media then so be it.

As for the complaints that the song is too long, those just don’t hold water.  “We Stand United” is just 53 words long and takes about 35 seconds to sing from beginning to end.  It’s a good length.  I think that “Believe,” by comparison, is too short.  The chant is only 28 words long and could really use a bridge.  That being said, it’s a great chant and a great starting point for fans in Salt Lake, who are still at the beginning of building a soccer culture in town.

One of my favorite anthems in world soccer is the Hino do Palmeiras, which is sung by supporters of Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, a club in São Paulo, Brazil.  The Hino do Palmeiras is 89 words long and when you get 20,000+ supporters singing it, it is quite a thing to behold.

The anthem, which has been sung since the 1950s (or earlier?), names Palmeiras fans as the “torcida que canta e vibra,” in English “the supporters who sing and shake,” and, boy, do they!  They sing with all their might!  They jump back and forth along the rows of the stadium!  Unity!  Which is what an anthem is supposed to foster.

“We Stand United” is a great place to start for USMNT supporters.  They already have various chants.  But one can only chant “I believe that we will win” for about 20 seconds before it gets old.  Besides, that chant is used all over the place and sometimes to greater effect.  “We Stand United” gives supporters of the USMNT something to call their own that they can take to Brazil, that they can use to spur the team on to victory, and that they can use for many years to come.  Who knows?  In 60 years USMNT supporters might sound as good as Palmeiras fans.

My First World Cup Memory

Ahh, the World Cup.  Every four years, the world comes together to spend a month celebrating the world’s biggest single tournament in sports.  I love looking around my neighborhood and seeing the young kids wearing their soccer jerseys.  The six year old up the street was wearing an Argentina jersey yesterday.  I asked him who his favorite player on Argentina was and he responded without hesitation, “Messi!”  Seeing the Beautiful Game grow in this country is joyous for a soccer fan like me.  The World Cup hasn’t always been on the radar of American kids, though.

I don’t recall being aware of an event called “The World Cup” until it came to the USA in 1994.  I was 17 years old and didn’t know what to expect.  I grew up like your average American kid–played soccer when I was young but then stopped as I got older.  The only professional soccer player that I could name was Pelé, but that was only because of the old Atari 2600 game, Pelé‘s Soccer.  Prior the World Cup in 1994, I had been exposed to Brazilian culture for the first time.  One of my high school basketball teammates the previous year had been a very likeable Brazilian basketball prodigy named Hélio, who has gone on to have quite the career in the NBB–Brazil’s pro basketball league.  So I knew a bit about Brazil and planned to watch their matches during the World Cup.  But, like I said, I didn’t know what to expect.

One of the most memorable moments of that World Cup for me was Bebeto’s goal celebration after his controversial goal against Holland in the Quarterfinals.  Bebeto’s son, Mattheus, was born on July 7, 1994.  When Bebeto scored for Brazil two days later, he dedicated the goal to his new son in a way that was so memorable that it’s made its way into video games.  Here’s the iconic celebration:

I remember watching that at the age of 17.  I was like, “What’s he doing?  What are they all doing?”  It was awesome.  I didn’t really understand soccer.  I didn’t really understand the importance of going up 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.  But I knew that I was thoroughly entertained by a short Brazilian guy pretending to rock a baby after scoring a goal.

I wasn’t a fan for life yet.  But I was well on my way.

Welcome to RealExcitingSoccer.com

Welcome to RealExcitingSoccer.com!

Soccer is the fastest growing sport in the United States in terms of popularity.  Major League Soccer, for example, recently passed the NBA in average attendance per game.  Though the NBA’s season is twice as long as MLS’s, the attendance numbers for MLS mean that soccer is here to stay in America–something that was not clear even ten years ago.

Despite soccer’s growth, it is still somewhat of a niche sport.  The average person in the USA doesn’t follow it except, maybe, during the World Cup every four years.  For a lot of Americans, soccer is boring.  Soccer players dive a lot.  Soccer players fake injuries.  And while that can be true on rare occasions, soccer–and what it means to the world–is so much more than that.

The premise of this website is that there is much about soccer that the average American misses out on.  In fact, there is much about soccer and soccer culture around the world that even die-hard soccer fans miss out on.  Soccer is the most international of all sports.  It is played in more places, followed by more fans (the estimated TV audience for the World Cup Final in 2010 was between 750,000,000 and 2.5 billion!), and makes more news worldwide than any other sport.  Unless you speak multiple languages, there’s a lot of news to miss.

The purpose of RealExcitingSoccer.com is to deliver soccer content to die-hard and casual soccer fans in a way that brings cultures together, celebrates the beauty of The Beautiful Game, and exposes English-speaking fans to aspects of world soccer that are under-reported here in the United States.  It is our hope that as you experience this website that it will change the rhythm at which you experience The Beautiful Game.  Enjoy!