Sports: Anxieties of a Soccer Widow

by Sabine Ehgoetz

Germans have an obligation to like soccer, in much the same way that Canadians are expected to love hockey. After all, we do count as one of the nations that is famous for its national team – along with Brazil, Argentina and, of course, Italy who dared to boot us out of the last World Cup on our home ground. That wasn’t supposed to happen! According to the definition of soccer as it was given by the famous British player Gary Lineker, “Soccer is a game played for 90 minutes and then Germany wins.”

Apart from that very black day, I do enjoy watching matches from time to time and wished I had been in Germany when it hosted the world in 2006. Driving around Toronto with a German flag was certainly fun, but a rather lame experience compared to the crazy parties my husband enjoyed while he was visiting various German cities during the World Cup. Then again, because he has played the game for many years himself, he has much more appreciation for it than I ever will. Plus, he lived in England for several years and survived the wildest soccer crowds one can imagine, and that, by itself, is something that should be rewarded. It was fair enough that he got to see the World Cup live instead of me since he clearly qualifies as the bigger soccer fan.

That is also why I was quite excited for him when I learned that Toronto was getting its own soccer club. On the day the season passes went on sale, I got him one for Christmas. I could hardly keep the secret throughout December and when it was finally time for it to be revealed, it had exactly the effect that I had hoped for: tears welled in his eyes when he opened the envelope that contained his row and seat number, and while he was speechless for a moment, it felt to me like I had just scored highly in the running for the “best wife” competition.

Yet even then I had a quiet question somewhere in the back of my head, which has constantly grown louder and more nagging as the new year progressed; do I really know what I have gotten myself into?

Will I be spending the summer without a partner? Will I have to constantly put up with him coming home sweaty from cheering and drunk from celebration?

The truth is, while I do like soccer, I do not like to compete with a leather ball and eleven guys, regardless of how skilled or handsome they may be. I can even admit that I (like most girls) especially enjoy the part after the final whistle when the players take off their shirts to exchange them with the opposing team. I have great appreciation for the Swedish soccer star Freddie Ljungberg, not so much for his smart tackling but for his job as a model for Calvin Klein underwear. I will even try to join my husband for the Toronto FC game when David Beckham comes to play with the Los Angeles Galaxy, although I think that his technique is a lot less spectacular than his tattoos. Twenty-two men in amazing shape, working their muscles for a hungry audience, drenched in so much sweat that their skin looks oiled. What woman wouldn’t enjoy that, especially since they are wearing a lot less than those Canadian hockey players?

Of course, it is not only about that.

Unlike most Canadians, I can explain the rules for an offside. I’m also pretty good at judging a real foul from a dive.

I’m happy that born-and-raised Canadians will get a chance to learn these things as well. I just hope my significant other isn’t the one teaching them during long hours of post-game drinking. He is already
chatting with his buddies about buying tickets for away matches which – hello? – weren’t in the picture when I got him the season pass!

He recently also joined a messaging board for hardcore Toronto FC supporters that organizes frequent nights out during the pre-season so they can get to know each other and chat about the upcoming matches. But the worst thing of all is that I can’t even complain when I haven’t seen him for the third weekend in a row since I am the one who brought this on myself. Even though all his friends now think that I’m the coolest wife on earth (because I bought him that
season pass), can I count on them to tell him that he needs to go home at a reasonable time?

CNM