The football post

 Football fans celebrate Spain’s Eurocup victory on Monday

I’ve seen more fútbol in the last 2 months than in past 2 years. With all eyes on the Eurocup, I inevitably ended up watching teams such as Portugal, Italy, Germany, and plenty of good ‘ole España. Coming back from Italy two weekends ago, the pilot even interrupted the flight to belt out a hearty “Gooooool!” whenever Spain snuck one past France.

“Ghoul” or “goal”?

In the states, “football” always referred to American football. Due to long Thursday nights in the stands, I associated this sport with high school boredom. Due to gosh-awful marching band uniforms with a feather on top, I also shudder when I remember ill-fitting, smelly, sequined clothing. Luckily, coming to Spain gave me the chance to redeem my sporting experience. From now on, when I refer to football I mean the football we Americans call soccer.

At the Corazón Classic

Last month I had the chance to get close to the action when I attended the Corazón Classic Match, a game between former players of Real Madrid and Manchester United. (The fact that I even know who these teams are is significant progress in itself.)

The match brought me into the famous Santiago Bernabeú stadium for the first time. This was a charity match, meaning that tickets were more affordable than usual, but it also meant that with former players the match wasn’t as fast-paced  as other games must be. While players were all professionally trained, it was obvious that some had kept in better shape than others. Plus, being the football-crazed gal that I am, I had no idea who these titans of football were. However, being in the stadium with the chants and the charged atmosphere was an incomparable experience and one I was glad to have.

The match kicked off with members of the national guard parachuting into the stadium. I was in awe–how do they drop into such a space? How does the wind not hook them, bayonet-style, onto a vuvuzela?

Fast forward to this month. The flurry of the Eurocup: the bets, the messages from stateside pals wondering what’s-it-like-there? In Madrid, friends are meeting up to watch the game. The apartment above me hosts parties during the week, complete with enough noise-makers to have our cranky neighbor threatening to call the police. The final match is nigh and flags are flyin’. There’s the initial nervousness of the final game and then the jubilation as the center of Madrid roars with excitement. I’m still not a fan, but I can at least be buoyed by the excitement, taking in the festive atmosphere and grinning at the people wrapped up in red and yellow.

After all the talk of the crisis, it’s as good a reason as any to let loose and celebrate.

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Tiny fans, big fans

Last Monday night the Palacio de Cibeles reflects the Eurocup win