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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Bitter international rivalries, all in good fun”

    International parties are the best. Beer pong and keg stands are replaced with moderation and class; salsa dominates the dance floor; and instead of meandering small-talk, all voices argue over a common ground: the Euro Cup. On a toasty Saturday night before the Italy vs. Spain match, every male in the room anticipated the next morning’s line-up, debating the virtues of young Antonio Cassano versus near-retiring Alessandro Del Piero.

    I pretended to uphold my end of the conversation with a meek “”Forza Italia”” and set off to explore the premises. While examining the stomping ground of our host from the Andes, I couldn’t help but notice a 5-foot Peruvian flag in middle of the wall, surrounded by gold-embossed figures of the holy founders of Machu Picchu.

    “”All right,”” I laughed to the host. “”What if I went to Peru and tacked a big American flag on my wall?””

    “”You’ll end up with a knife in your neck!”” he exclaimed, amused at the very suggestion of U.S. pride. For all the arrogance Americans are assumed to exert elsewhere, their victorious chants have no place on the soccer field. At 21st in the FIFA rankings, Americans are the plebians of the soccer world, perhaps because they simply have too many outlets in which to vent their worldly frustrations. They instead sit calmly, proud of having found a pet sport with which to contemplate the proletariat in modern and historical contexts.

    For the rest of the world, though, soccer is nationalism incarnate, and when shared among friends creates an almost absurd rivalry.

    When my Russian roommate matter-of-factly declared to our Russian friend, “”Russians can’t play soccer,”” the living room conversation escalated to a shouting match, followed by a pillow fight. (Yeah, it seemed more riotous at the time…)

    But after shouting a “”vaffanculo”” or three following a nail-biting, beer-spilling shootout, Italians and Spanish still sing one another’s folk songs along to a guitar, once the angst has subsided. But that’s what’s great about ritualistic violence: After a mid-morning shouting profanities at the opposing “”gypsies,”” or whatever your slur of choice is, you can exchange a few pats on the back in the name of sportsmanship. Another world war avoided.

    – Laura Hawkins is a journalism and Italian senior.

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