6/26/2005

¡óE, el Fútbol! [JUNE 26, 2005]

It’s Sunday night. Around nine o’clock. My girlfriend and I are in the living room playing a game of SCRABBLE. I just put down an X on triple letter score, but it completes two words, so I smile at her as I motion to the scorecard.

"Fifty points. Oh yeah!"

"Wait a minute. That’s not a word! ‘AXE’ has an E at the end of it. ‘AX’ isn’t a word!"

"American English, baby..."

"Well, I learnt ‘AXE’ with an E. Proper English has it with an E. And you need an E."

"So – Are you challenging me or what? Here’s the dictionary. Look it up if you want."

"I don’t know... just tell me. Is ‘AX’ really the American spelling or are you lying?"

I shrug my shoulders in innocence. "To challenge or not to challenge, that is the question."

"Alright. Give me the stupid dictionary." She flips through the As and a look of disappointment forms on her face. Just as she’s about to utter some Czech obscenities, deafening cheers and foot-stomping from the apartments above and next to us stop her short.

"¡oEEE! ¡óE óE óE oEEE! ¡óE Cádiz, oEEE!" comes through the ceiling and windows.

"What the..." I begin. "They’re going wild! What do you think it is this time?"

"Probably another goal. You know they never make any noise unless there’s a football game on."

"Yeah, I guess you’re right."


Goal! Goal! Goal! Goal! Goal!

That happened three weeks ago and, as usual, she was right. Cádiz C.F., the local football team, was playing and won. The thing is, while we were stuck in our little room bent over a SCRABBLE board, the whole city around us was going wild. It was the second to last game of the season. If Cádiz C.F. won that game and the next, they would advance to the First Division of the Spanish League. It would be like moving up from the Minors to the Major League. One more game to go. The final of the season.

I don’t usually get too involved with football, even though it is the most popular sport in the world. Maybe it’s because I’m American and I was just never brought up watching it. By the way, I’m talking about real football here, not that sport we call "Football" in the States. Jesus, why is it even called football back home? It’s more like rugby than anything else. Your foot hardly ever touches the ball and its more about throwing the ol’ pigskin than kicking it. American football should be called "Oblongshapedball" and Soccer should be re-dubbed Football, the same as it is in every other country on this planet. But... I’m getting worked up over nothing. As a general rule, I don’t really like any sports and normally don’t get involved either way. I’d rather sit down in a comfy chair and play a good game of chess. Marx, in my opinion, got it all wrong. Screw religion – Sports is the real opiate.

And Spaniards, along with perhaps the English and Brazilians, are the most addicted junkies I’ve ever come across. They absolutely love "el fútbol". Especially if it's their home team that’s playing. You can see grandmothers, five-year-old girls, even the Señores who don’t seem to give a damn about anything, decked out in team colors and filling the local bar when there’s an important match on. In fact, that’s exactly what happened with the last game of the season.


If it doesn't come packaged in the team colors, we don't sell it

Although, as I said, I usually don’t watch sports, I did make an exception for the final Cádiz C.F. game. The atmosphere in the city was unbelievable. It had been building up all week. People had hung Cádiz C.F. flags on their balconies. Pharmacies and corner shops had removed their normal goods and products from the display window and put Cádiz C.F. paraphernalia it their place. The tiniest of children were wearing oversized Cádiz C.F. jerseys. Dogs were even shuffling along with little Cádiz C.F. scarves wrapped around their necks. All walks of life were decked out in the team colors. The city was awash in a sea of yellow and blue.


"I hope they win the big game tonight..."

That was what Cádiz looked like last weekend when my girlfriend and I went in search of some friends we were supposed to meet at a local bar. The game was only being aired on cable so the streets were packed with countless others in the same boat as us. The thing is, the bars couldn’t even begin to accommodate those filing through their doors. So they did the only logical thing – they turned their TVs so that they would face the street and allow everyone to see. The barmen didn’t care if they would make more money off of it or not, their team was playing. Winning was the only thing that mattered. Besides, everybody was too busy concentrating on the game to think about drinking.


Forget walking the dog, the match just began!

But, being Spain, the drinking had to come at one point or another. And so it did.... after the game had ended and Cádiz C.F. were officially advanced to the First Division. The city went wild as everyone – from babies to grandparents – marched to the Old City Gates of Cádiz and partied on until the team heroes arrived victoriously aboard the Cádiz C.F. bus at three in the morning. It was unreal. People were jumping into the public fountains, champagne corks went flying in every direction, and traffic came to a complete halt as the streets filled with yellow and blue. All I could think about was that this – this madness and festivity in the name of a football victory – wasn’t even due a true victory. They hadn’t won a trophy or a cup or anything like that. The only thing Cádiz C.F. had managed to do that season was lift itself out of the god-awful league it had been part of and join the big boys of Spanish football. Nevertheless, the city was celebrating as if they had just become World Champions!


At the Old City Gates before...


...and after the victory

All of that happened last week though. Things have sort of died down since then. Don’t get me wrong – you can still see the yellow and blue flags everywhere – but at least the Old City Gates have finally emptied of revelers. I’m not fooled though. Just because football season is over, doesn’t mean that the Spaniards can forget it so easily. After all, the next one is only a few months away. The locals have already begun talking about how the heroes of Cádiz C.F. will soon be playing against such football giants as Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, and Ronaldo. With this kind of excitement going round, who knows. I might even find myself, just like everyone else in Spain, glued to the TV screen when next year’s football season kicks off...


¡óE Cádiz, oEEE!

Yeah right. Who am I kidding? I’ll be stuck in front of a SCRABBLE board trying to think of how to get the most points out of that X on my letter-rack.

4 comments:

Johnny said...

Football IS religion which never die!!!You're only stupid American boy,you can't sawy............:))

Lori said...

There's always "xeric".

Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a christmas gift site/blog. It pretty much covers gift ideas for christmas related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

blaze said...

Great site very informative topics on temporary medical insurance.
I have been working on a site about temporary medical insurance
and would be very pleased if you would take a look and let me know what you think.