No not that gimmicky kind whose real name should be hand-egg!
I mean the real football. The one played in virtually every corner of the globe. The one where players go hard for ninety minutes without commercial breaks. The one fans’ club allegiances transcend the pitch. And the one that if I wasn’t Armenian, I probably wouldn’t adore so greatly.
It’s true. Growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, I’ve witnessed “soccer” be tossed around like second or fifth fiddle behind the likes of hockey, baseball, basketball, and American football. Here, and especially in the United States, soccer is considered a child’s game, where kids play solely to make new pre-school friends and eat watermelon slices at half-time.
To those individuals, I’m here to tell you that there’s much more to the sport if you give it a chance.
What Exactly Is Football?
Football (Futbol, Fusball, fudbal, futebole, futbolas or any of the other dozen national variations), originates in 19th-century Britain, back when players wore shorts half-way up their thighs.
Since then, the sport quickly spread across Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East to today, where children and adults of all ages and parts of the world adopt its glory and coin it as “the beautiful game.”
Each nation has its own domestic leagues, some of which so popular, they stretch down seven divisions. It’s here that fans earn their colours, typically from their parents, who inherited them from their parents and so on. These colours aren’t just emblematic of your club they’re also a birth-certificate – you earn them right out of the womb. If you ever, EVER, attempt defecting allegiances to another club, you’re family will kick you out onto the streets.
As you can probably tell, football fans are – as the British would say – mental. Their passion for the sport is unmatched, I mean, just watch the differences…
Even if you’ve never seen a millisecond of football, you’ve likely heard about the World Cup. It’s the two-week tournament where the world literally stops to watch eleven men fight and bleed for their respective countries. FIFA – or Internal Federation of Association Football, translated from French – governs this event. Although FIFA is undoubtedly corrupt, the powerful federation has blessed us with one of the world’s greatest beauties.
Here in North America, if “football” (hand-egg) were to organize some form of Continent or World Cup, the only two competing nations would be Canada and the USA. In such a tournament, the U.S. would win every year in a landslide, which gives us no intrigue. Unlike this, football houses legitimate international competition, some nations greater than others, but virtually every country owns, develops, and cherishes a national team for which their cultural pride can extend to the world stage.
Of the 195 nations recognized by the UN, 205 have national teams that compete within FIFA (I know, what?? Inception).
Where’s Armenia in All This?
Currently, Armenia’s men national team sits 112th on FIFA’s rankings, down from our 36th spot in 2014. While FIFA rankings swing wild and rapidly, the state of Armenian football gives pause for concern, capped by a 1-0 defeat to Denmark a few weeks ago, in which, the Havakakan (the team’s nickname) were outshot 20 to 1. It was a gruelling match, even just for me streaming it on a laptop.
Me pretty much the whole match
But Christoper, my dad says in his subtle accent… you must not forget, our men drew Italy 2-2 in 2013
In what other sport can a team draw an opponent and a whole nation of followers still reference it as landmark achievement three years later? The answer is none.