To say soccer fans
cheer is like saying moles dig or Kennedys drink. They cheer. They chant. They
sing. First at the games. Then in the pubs. Then in the jails.
Once, at the
Barcelona Olympics in 1992, I was amazed at the way thousands of Swedish fans
roared one chant again and again in perfect unison. I went up to a Swede and
asked, "What is it you're yelling? Is it something like 'Attack the goal!'
or 'Play hard defense!' Or what?"
And this young,
blond guy goes, "No, this cheer says, 'We are from Sweden, we have traveled
very far, and we are drunk!'"
Since then, I've
always gotten the translation. At another international event, upon seeing
Slovakian fans jumping up and down and ringing bells, I asked one of them what
their cheer meant. And she said, "This is to say, 'He who is not jumping is
If you're lucky
enough to attend the most watched event in the universe--the World Cup (page
48)--you've got to go to one of England's games. The French make the best wine.
The Swiss build the best watches. But the English make up the best chants. In
English football, for instance, Blackburn hates Burnley the way tornadoes hate
trailers, so the Blackburn fans, 31,000 strong, holler:
Yer mum's yer
Yer dad's yer
Yer inbred, ya
Which is good, but
not as good as this ...
Away in a