As anyone who has ever travelled to Europe knows, they love their
football here. And by football, I of course mean what Americans
would call soccer. Almost every day, I see youngsters or other college
students kicking a soccer ball around in the Botanic Gardens or
behind the residence halls.
A few weeks ago, I began to hear the buzz about a huge soccer game
between France and Ireland in Dublin. I decided to see what all
the hubbub was about. As the game was completely sold out, I had
to settle for a big screen TV in a nearby pub. But someone told
me that watching a soccer match in an Irish pub is just as cool
and twice as crazy as actually going to the game.
Caution and fire codes were tossed to the wind as hundreds of locals
packed into tiny bars all over the city. I chose the Botanic Inn,
a hot spot for the college-aged crowd, for my World Cup qualifying
game experience. It was standing room only, and so many faithful
had gathered to watch that you
could barely move. I brought my friend Sylvain, who is French and
also very interested in seeing the game, although he hoped for a
very different outcome than everyone else in the place. I made sure
to maintain a safe distance from him, however, so that I would not
also be thought of as a ‘traitor’ to team Ireland.