The World Cup has started and my European friends will be paying careful attention. Since I plan to integrate as best I can, I decided that it was time that I learned something about the sport. So I found a site that streams all of the matches for free and I am trying to pay attention. Here's what I have learned so far.
My American friends should be aware that the World Cup is not a large drinking vessel. It's a sporting event. It's an international football tournament. And football is what the rest of the world calls soccer. The purpose of the event appears to be to provide a financial boost for ethnic restaurants around the world with large television screens. And the World Cup only takes place once every four years. For the intervening years, the team that wins the World Cup is the World Champion even though the team no longer exists. (The teams, by the way, are called sides because they are not really teams. The players get together just for the World Cup, then go back to their real teams in other countries where they make their real money.) See? It's already confusing.
The referees come from various countries from around the world who are at war with each other, but that doesn't seem to make a difference to them. They get along with each other so well that they come to an agreement before each match on which team should win, then help that team win by making obviously biased calls. If that happened at an American sporting event, money would have changed hands. Apparently, World Cup referees are simply doing their part without financial incentive.
Things get going on a very nice lawn in front of groups of drunken men in color coordinated clothing. Women can be in the stadium, but only if they don't wear shirts. The first team to kick the ball barely touches it, rolling it just far enough to make certain that it's round. Then the teams of men, all of whom were so busy trying on colorful shoes that they forgot to shave, begin kicking the ball back and forth, sometimes even kicking it with their heads. The object of the game seems to be to find creative ways to fall down so that the referees can help you win or, if you find yourself standing somewhere near the ball by yourself so that it wouldn't make sense to fall down, finding creative ways to kick the ball past your own goal tender and into your own net.
It seems that in one of the early games that I saw, the world champion Spaniards lost convincingly to the Netherlands, apparently due to superior cannabis. At least I think that's right. I can't understand the announcers. They're speaking British.
EDIT: The Americans won their first game. They scored a goal in the first 30 seconds, then nothing exciting happened for over an hour and a half. In other words, it was a typical soccer match.