Published: June 2006

Soccer

Soccer Foot

The Beautiful Game

Why soccer rules the world

Introduction by Sean Wilsey
Photograph by Marco Anelli, Grazia Neri

There are many beautiful things about being an American fan of men's World Cup soccer—foremost among them is ignorance. The community in which you were raised did not gather around the television set every four years for a solid, breathless month. Your country has never won. You can pick whatever team you like best and root for it without shame or fear of reprisal. You have not been indoctrinated into unwanted-yet-inescapable tribal allegiances by your soccer-crazed countrymen. You are an amateur, in the purest sense of the word. So with the World Cup taking place this month in Germany—and the World Cup is the only truly international sporting event on the planet (no, the Olympics, with their overwhelming clutter of boutique athletics, do not matter in the same way)—you can expect to spend the month in paradise.

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