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The Devolution of Fan
Mark Bechtel
June 05, 2006
For some nations, the tournament is a cause for rejoicing; for others, it's a source of dread. Here's how well (or not) devotees to the 32 teams will cope during the Cup
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June 05, 2006

The Devolution Of Fan

For some nations, the tournament is a cause for rejoicing; for others, it's a source of dread. Here's how well (or not) devotees to the 32 teams will cope during the Cup

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ANGST LEVEL 1: NEXT-TO-NIL

BRAZIL

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
TUNISIA
SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO

COSTA RICA PARAGUAY

**UNFLAPPABLE World Cup fans aren't plentiful, but they do exist. Some supporters are thrilled merely that their side has reached Germany--the prime minister of TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO declared a national holiday after the Soca Warriors clinched their first Cup berth--while others avoid stress by resigning themselves to defeat. For instance, few will sweat the outcome in SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO, where, as travel writer Rebecca West pointed out, the "acceptance of tragedy ... is the basis of Slav life." Strangely, though, the most carefree scene might be in BRAZIL, where any pressure that comes with being the overwhelming favorite is offset by the fans' unbridled enthusiasm for the game and for life. While soccer coaches traditionally ponder ways to keep their players focused before games (read: away from their wives), Brazil's Carlos Alberto Parreira says, "Sex is a good thing. It makes the players relaxed." For soccer fans (and players) it just feels good to be Brazilian.

ANGST LEVEL 2: WHATEVER

UNITED STATES

SAUDI ARABIA
SOUTH KOREA
UKRAINE
SWEDEN

* A SIGN that the beautiful game is catching on in the U.S.: The World Cup roster was unveiled live on SportsCenter. A sign that soccer still has a way to go: ESPN scheduled the announcement for 30 minutes into the show, after, among other things, a segment on John Daly's gambling. As in several other countries where qualification for the Cup is fairly common but victories are rare, the American fans' generally ho-hum attitude makes the hard-core boosters from Sam's Army look like raving lunatics. If the home side wins, great. If not, no one is going to burn a car in the street, as happened in Moscow after a Russian loss in the 2002 Cup. While SAUDI ARABIA will be appearing in its fourth straight Cup, its football federation was so worried about a lack of support that it offered free tickets to Saudi matches in Germany. Indeed, fans who logged on to FIFA's ticket sales site in February had one choice: Out of 64 total Cup games, only Saudi Arabia's June 19 match against UKRAINE had seats available.

ANGST LEVEL 3: DELUSIONAL

IRAN

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