ell ladies, soccer season in Italy is back with a vengeance and it looks like I’ve lost my husband again. Yes, I said soccer. That’s because I’m American. Yes, I am fully aware that everyone else around the world refers to it as “football.”
Ironically, my Italian husband also refers to it as “soccer season.” He picked up the idiom from me, along with lots of other American slang. I’m proud of him.
But back to my drama. When soccer season rolls around, and it swings into full gear in mid-September, my hubby pretty much turns into a zombie. There’s some kind of competition two or three times a week. When A.C. Milan (his team) plays, he can’t miss a second. When he can’t actually watch the game, he has a mobile app on his phone that lets him program and tape the game at home.
When his team isn’t playing, it’s our duty to watch the teams he hates most (Inter Milan and A.S. Roma) so that we do a voodoo dance and pray to the Champions League gods that they don’t win.
I’m not anti-soccer. I was a big sports fan in Miami. I went to Miami Heat NBA games and cheered the Miami Hurricanes in college football — often from my favorite local sports bar.
But soccer fans are a different breed. They take the game way to seriously, so much so that it honestly stops being fun. How seriously do they take it? There are daily sports papers (one sells as many copies as the leading newspaper), talk radio channels and TV talk shows, some dedicated only to certain teams.
I learned the hard way not to talk to my husband when Milan is playing. It’s almost as if by distracting him I’m also distracting the players of the team and of course, putting us at risk of losing.
I once made the mistake of organizing a dinner get-together for all my colleagues and significant others. Some had never met my husband. It slipped my mind that his game was on the same night. He said two words the whole dinner. I was mortified.
When no soccer is on, we have to watch Sky Sport News 24 to get our 24-hour sports fix, as if a couple of hours a day isn’t enough. From what I can tell, the channel broadcasts about 20 minutes of news dedicated to Formula 1 car racing, 20 minutes to motorbike racing, 10 minutes to rugby, and about five minutes to swimming. The rest, 23 hours and 5 minutes, is dedicated to soccer. Who knew they had that much to talk about?
The only real soccer break, if you can call it that, is in summer. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I like Italian summers. If only that down time weren’t spent speculating on which teams had improved as a result of some newly-discovered Brazilian star who might be the next Diego Maradona, or not.
I must admit that’s he improved. He’s no longer as bad as his buddy Gianni. Gianni watches not only every Italian team but also games from Spain’s La Liga and Britain’s Premiere League. I’d go nuts if I were his wife.
My husband used to subscribe to the AC Milan channel, which was educated solely to the team, with games, highlights, player interviews, talk shows, and even footage of players’ birthday parties.
But this was more than I could handle. For a while, that’s all we had on TV. Then came the unthinkable. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (who also owns AC Milan along with most Italian media) sold the team’s star Brazilian player Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, known to all as Kakà, my husband’s favorite. On that day, he vowed never to watch Milan Channel again. He called the cable company and canceled his subscription.
After he hung up, he looked pained. “I feel like I just broke up with my girlfriend,” he told me. That, my friends, is a line only a true soccer addict can speak.