The first round of games was okay, I worked on the computer with the TV buzzing behind me. But the second matches in the series are taking place now, and things are definitely heating up. Yesterday I sat down and actually watched Mexico play France.. the first time I watched an entire soccer game.
Being an American Football fan, and liking sports in general, I learned a lot watching futbol soccer. The first thing I noticed was that there are no time outs, no long commercial breaks, just game play. The first half is 45 minutes and the game clock never stops. There are fouls(that may not be what they call them) and incidents that stop the game momentarily, like real injuries or fake injuries, but a fan really has to be prepared, as there is no commercial time for beer or piss breaks. I expected to be bombarded with ads during half time, but no, it was a short break.
The game began at 1:30 pm, but they had us fooled into thinking it begain at 11:30am. That's where the blahblahblahing of the announcers is mixed with most of the commercials. What's funny is that we knew what time the games air - the third match always begins at 1:30pm, but everyone at my house was so excited about the game that they glued themselves to their TVs at 11:30am. I guess it pumps up the fans in Mexico to see their countrymen's adrenaline, costumes, songs and shouts fill the stadium in South Africa. I used the tease time to do a little gardening.
The game began promptly at 1:30pm. By 2:30pm it was half time. The teams had been running back and forth on the field nonstop for an hour; I was tired just watching them run. The Mexicans had the momentum. The French played dirty. Whenever the Mexican team controlled the ball moving down the field, a
Frog French player would come over and deliberately trip him. If you can't play well, play dirty I guess. That's what we do in American Football! Seriously, though, the stadium was roaring with Mexican fans and the French just sat there as if they were watching opera. They were dressed in revolutionary costumes and sat emotionless throughout the game, perhaps following the lead of the coach, whose facial expression never changed. He looked bored to be there.
An American Football game is 60 minutes of play, and takes 3 hours to air on TV. A soccer game is 90 minutes of play and is finished in two hours. Do you think American TV is more COMMERCIAL?
For me soccer is like a combination of Am.football, basketball, and hockey without all the gear. The sponsors may not get lots of commercial time, but they have their logos plastered all over the players and the stadium, so I think they successfully push their products. And evidently they DID hand out BUZZHORNS at the gate. I didn't see any Mexicans blowing horns, they were jumping and yelling and screaming. It was great. Mexico won the game 2-0. That leaves them tied for first place in their group with Uruguay, the team they will play on Tuesday.
After the game, Pablo said, "Let's go!" He grabbed his tambor, wearing his green World Cup shirt, and off to the Monument of the Flags we went. He had told me that whenever Mexico wins a sporting event everyone meets there to celebrate but I'd never seen it. When we got there the police already had the area closed off to traffic, the Sol band complete with skimpily clad girls playing Cielito Lindo, the riot squad in place, and the fans going nuts. We flew a giant Mexican flag from the car window and heard lots of "A HUEVO", a phrase that means something like, "Of course we won, and we will win again." Ok, I think it really translates into "fuckin-A, we won!" (Just keeping it real.)
Below are some photos of the mayhem that took place at the monument after the game. People were still arriving as we left, and for all I know the party went on for hours. I can warn you that Mexico plays again Tuesday, June 22, at 9am. If they win that game, they will qualify for the Knockout Round, and the people here will be very happy. If you aren't interested in soccer, at least check the final score before driving around Paseo de Montejo next Tuesday afternoon, or you'll be forced to park and join the party.
Below are photos from the impromptu party in the street.