(Copyright 2002. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

Making a permanent impression since 1994

June 14, 2002

Soccermania

By Kaishi Lee

Watch Brian McBride score in the World Cup

If you didnít catch any of the 2002 World Cup action, go kick yourself.

Held in Japan and South Korea , itís been billed as the most unpredictable, miserable and yet sizzling game ever in the Beautiful Game history.

Hot favorites France and Argentina have been knocked out of the first round, humiliated and sent on the early flights home.

Consider that France was the world champion in the previous World Cup, and widely tipped to remain the coveted champion.

Yes, World Cup fever is definitely on in Europe and Asia , but, inexplicably, relatively silent in the U.S.   

But what is the World Cup?

Like the Olympics, itís a game of soccer (also called football in Europe and Asia), with 11 players on each side, held every four years, bringing the top 28 countries together to contest for the championship trophy (the winning team three times in a row only gets to keep the trophy).

Divided into 7 groups (e.g. Group A, B, C etc.) with 4 countries in each group, they will play 2 games within each group and accumulate points for the number of goals scored and games won.

Two countries from each group will advance to the second round. Eight will go on to the quarter-finals, four to the semi-finals and the final two will have millions transfixed at the dexterity and talent of a fine game.

True, soccer is not a game worshipped by folks who follow the Super Bowl, NBA or Major League Baseball feverishly.

But give it a chance; itís a game of true sportsmanship, camaraderie and style. Players also have an undisputed passion for removing their shirts and dancing the winning jig, after scoring a goal.

Believe it or not, soccer players are also celebrity trendsetters.

After England ís David Beckham gelled his hair into The Fin (in the winning game versus Argentina ), it became the most imitated hairdo on the streets of London and Singapore .

This World Cup has been a season of upsets too.

France met its Waterloo when it lost 0-2 to Denmark . Even with the most accomplished player in modern soccer, Zinedine Zidane (Zizou, as heís affectionately known) playing, the French team bid Adieu, stumbled and bowed out, disgraced.

But the French are a forgiving people, and they cheered their team upon touchdown at Lausanne .   

ďItís definitely the worst day of my life,Ē Argentinean coach Marcelo Bielsa told reporters after his side drew a 1-1 tie with Sweden .

Though an equalizer, the Argentinean teamís lackluster showing in the previous game (versus England 1-0), sealed its fate, perhaps a mirror of its economic and political blues that have left fans in Buenos Aires dismayed.

The U.S. team will make it to the second round, as one of the top 16 teams in the world, if it at least ties Poland today (the game is at 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time).

Itís an amazing coming-of-age feat, considering the US team finished last with no goals scored at the 1998 World Cup held in France .

Itíd be tough to awaken in the predawn hours to watch the World Cup, but say, wouldnít it be nice to catch Brian McBride, who scored the winning goal against Portugal , scoring on ESPN?  


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