Wednesday, May 14, 2014

29 days and counting ‘til World Cup; and Chicago gets included in festivities

We’re just under one month away from the World Cup – the international sports tourney where the best national futbol clubs of the world convene to compete for something as significant as the Super Bowl fantasizes itself to be.

A local dose of pre-World Cup action on June 3
This year, of course, the action is in Brazil. Anybody from Chicago is going to have to spend some big bucks to make the trip to the southern hemisphere if they want to be able to say they saw world-class soccer.

TRUST ME, I made the mistake of going to see Major League Soccer matches during the last World Cup tourney in 2010. The level of play of the Chicago Fire and the teams they compete against just isn’t the same!

But it’s not like we in Chicago are totally cut out of the festivities.

I found it interesting that the Mexican national team that will compete is including a few last-minute exhibitions (“friendlies,” in soccer-speak) to warm up – with one of them scheduled for Soldier Field.

It will be right on the shores of Lake Michigan that Mexico’s Tri-colors will take on the national team from Bosnia-Herzegovina come June 3.There’s the potential for 50,000 or more people to pack their way into the bowl to see the two teams make whatever final adjustments they feel are necessary to avoid embarrassing themselves in Brazil.

NOT THAT I’LL be among those on hand.

For one thing, I have some work these days that will keep me busy that night. Although I also was appalled at the $240-plus price for a single ticket for the match.

Maybe I could scout around and find something a bit cheaper. But I just can’t envision paying that much for a friendly between two teams that have little chance of winning the whole thing. And I wonder about the sensibilities of anyone who has no problem paying such money.

The World Cup itself is being played this year between June 12 and July 13. The U.S. national team plays its first round matches on June 16 (against Ghana), June 22 (against Portugal) and June 26 (against Germany).

LOCALLY, PEOPLE WILL be able to gather at Grant Park, where Crain’s Chicago Business reports that the U.S. Soccer Federation plans to erect giant video screens so people can gather in large crowds and cheer endlessly (or so they hope) for U.S. goals.

Envisioning a video screen supplying soccer, instead of a band
Perhaps some people would find such a crowd to be an ample substitute for being in the stands at the real match. Personally, if I’m going to do nothing more than watch television, I suspect I’ll do it in the comfort of home.

Which is how I suspect I’m going to follow the World Cup. Don’t be surprised if – come next month – I have the television tuned in the background to the matches while I write about whatever issues of concern take place in Chicago.

I recall the same sentiment some 20 years ago – which was the one time the World Cup tourney was held in the United States, with the opening ceremonies and first few matches played right here at pre-renovation Soldier Field.

OF COURSE, THAT was during my stint working and living in Springfield. So even then, I was watching televisions at the Statehouse, trying to catch a few minutes of action here and there while everybody else went about the business of trying to govern the state.

RAUNER: Four more months to talk
As for this year, it all makes me wonder if for the upcoming month, I will be among those who find the plight of the United States and Mexico national teams (both of which could find themselves eliminated following the first round) more intriguing than anything that comes from the mouths of Rahm Emanuel or Bruce Rauner.

They’ll both have several months after the World Cup to spew their rhetoric that will anger so many people in so many ways.


No comments: