I like soccer.
That puts me in a highly unexclusive club made up of billions of members spanning the globe, including a mushrooming legion of Americans just as misguided as me. We’re not all on a first-name basis, but once a game starts, we all speak the same language.
I suppose that if your country’s national soccer team is strong, if your country’s national soccer league is rich in tradition and loaded with stars, if you grew up supporting your father’s club like his father before him, you’re likely to find the pull of soccer irresistible, regardless of whether you’ve ever kicked a ball in anger. All of the above will generate not just interest but also passion. And a rivalry—from a pair of neighboring town teams in a Brazilian Amazon backwater to Glasgow’s famous, or infamous, Auld Firm, the bitter meetings of the Roman Catholic–backed Celtic and the Protestant-backed Rangers— can only fan the flames. I recall an acquaintance, an American who during a business trip to Madrid was invited by a local associate to the latest renewal of one of the greatest rivalries of all, Real Madrid versus FC Barcelona. He was taken to Santiago Bernabeu stadium, sat among the capacity crowd of ninety thousand, and experienced the