I have been to the past two World Cups. I was there in South Korea for the most famous almost-Cinderella run by the hosts in 2002. I was in Germany for the infamous Zidane headbutt that lost France the title in 2006. And this year, my father deemed it much too dangerous to let me go to South Africa, tarnishing my perfect record as a football fan. So, I’m stuck in the States with a world of fans. And after much research I present to you, a field guide to the four types of American soccer fans:
1. The Diehard USA Fan
Typical. These are the guys that paint their faces, wear flags as capes and swear they bleed red, white, and blue. They have eagle tattoos and only watch the World Cup because it fills the time in between the NBA Finals and the World Series. Hockey is for Canadians. These guys embody the reason why soccer will never take off here: American supremacy. America does it our way. We’re number one. Our way or the highway. What I mean by this is that these fans are normally guys that don’t know a thing about soccer except that they must yell loudly and spill beer when the Yanks net one because it proves that we’re the best country in the world no matter what anyone says! USA! USA! Ask them what ‘offside’ means and they won’t be able to tell you and frankly, they won’t care as long as America wins.
2. The Loud Rookie
Drawing most of his knowledge from quick Google and Wikipedia searches right before matches, the loud rookie likes to pass off as the knowledgeable ex-pat (see below) and often makes up for his lack of experience with angry shouts against the ref. Oftentimes, the loud rookie will memorize a handful of statistics about a team or a few significant names in order to strike up a conversation with a table of KEP’s (Knowledgeable Ex-Pat) in an attempt to blend in and perhaps impress a female fan. But really, the only thing they know is that Brazil is good, England is good, and African teams are cute underdogs. Avoid at all costs.
3. The Knowledgeable Ex-Pat
Foreigners from abroad also fall into this category. These are the people who know the most about the sport. They live and breathe soccer and more likely than not, follow football leagues during the 47 months the World Cup isn’t going on. They usually take a quiet seat in the corner of the bar and only raise their voices when they deem necessary. The KEP’s are rarely ever US fans and often hail from the likes of England, Spain, and other countries where football is prominent. KEP’s are also students who have taken a year off or have studied abroad and were drawn into their country’s subsequent footie culture. Respect the KEP’s. They’re there for the love of the game. Treat them as such.
4. The Female Fan
A rare breed in the States, there are two subcategories: the World Cup widow and the actual fan. World Cup Widows (WWC’s) are, in fact, the opposite of WAG’s. They are ‘widowed’ by their boyfriends, husbands, fiancés who sit glued to the TV absorbing match after match. Feeling neglected, WWCs will attempt to empathize and accompany their partners to a couple matches in the bar, but will inevitably find themselves bored—until they spot Torres’ golden hair, Lampard’s boyish grin or Ronaldo’s cliché physique. To fill the gaping hole of male abandonment, these women will watch matches solely for the purpose of ogling men. Can you blame them? Footballers are the epitome of male athleticism.
Conversely, there are the actual female fans who were probably raised by football-loving parents or played soccer in high school and wished to continue their love of the sport after the collapse of the WUSA in 2003. Often a quieter breed, their knowledge of the World Cup lies between the loud rookie and the KEP—a happy, pleasant medium. Never accuse these women of being WWC’s or WAGs.