Confessions of an Unabashed European Soccer Snob

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Some people run from the truth.They flee from their own pathetic failure of a life and hide in the world of soccer. These feeble humans turn themselves into ostriches and stick their heads underground. Or worse, MLS. Why? The truth hurts. At least if you’re utterly pathetic and really defensive about your utterly patheticness. Me, though, I stroll through life like the sole rooster in the hen house. Peacocks cock their heads to see my plumage. Why? Because I am a fan of European soccer, not MLS. I belong to the elite of the elite.

And you? Well, North American ostrich, I have bad news. You belong to a very confused, defensive, and at times reprehensible nativist community. Allow me to explain why myself and European soccer are better than you and MLS. The evidence will astound you.

Most European soccer snobs never give MLS a chance. I acknowledge this. Those folks are either total fools or have incredibly good supernatural instincts. However, I have given MLS more than a hundred chances to win over my heart. I have gone to games. I have followed teams. I have followed entire seasons. However, every time MLS starts to find a place in my heart, it trips over its own two feet. Each time MLS approaches respectability, a hideous adolescent error undoes all the prior smoothness.

For example, about a year ago, I took my son to see a Sporting KC game at the new Livestrong Park. Without a doubt, the accommodations were quite posh. However, about ten minutes into the game, a serious snafu happened. I called over the roaming vendor and asked for a simple food item that is a staple in all world class European venues: a banana. To my shock, he said: “Sorry sir, we don’t sell bananas.” I was flabbergasted. Pretzels. Peanuts. Popcorn. Hotdogs. Hamburgers. They were all for sale. But no bananas.

“What are we supposed to throw at the minority players when they touch the ball,” I inquired. He offered no response. Red-faced, I insisted on speaking with his manager. I tried to give Sporting KC the benefit of the doubt: perhaps a supplier had played hardball on banana prices in the offseason. Maybe they had freezer problems and the recent batch went bad. None. Of. The. Above. The manager said Sporting KC never offered bananas, but he would take our suggestion into account. Tsk tsk.

I’m still shocked that they simply do not sell bananas at Sporting KC games. However, Sporting KC is not alone. I did some digging, and I’ve heard they don’t sell any bananas at any MLS games. Not even the stray plantain or two. Nor much fruit for that matter. No wonder childhood obesity ravages North America. This would never happen in Europe, were ultras basically place a banana in your hand and guide you arm as you throw it at a player. So much for “credibility.”

Slightly changing topics to atrocities of the beverage kind, I did like the variety of beers being sold at the Livestrong Park. However, the wine offered was appalling both in terms of quantity and quality. Based on a sniff test, the house wine was a Merlot of the cheap Australian variety (not even California!). I dared not take a sip, and the vendor couldn’t even tell me the year of the Cabernet Sauvignon. Sacre bleu! In the apparel store, they did offer a nice range of scarves, but had no size small berets. Can you believe it? As if all fans of soccer had Neanderthal-sized North American skulls. Uff. The fabric also felt of cheap acrylic fiber, not crocheted cotton (as used in berets sold at most upper tier European grounds).

However, none of these sins stack up to the worst stadium experience yet. The restrooms. At halftime, my young son had to go to the bathroom. However, he had the urge for number two, so naturally we looked for a properly equipped restroom. We walked the entire length of the stadium, but did not find a single bathroom…with a properly enclosed bidet. Not one.Granted, I understand that bidets are a bit expensive. However, surely one or two wouldn’t break the bank. Thus, my little boy had to resort to cleaning himself with paper like an orphan. Shameful.

To make matters worse, we soon thereafter did find a most unusual bidet. It was elevated much too high, even for an adult! It also shot out cold water with no handle to adjust the temperature! And, the worst part, it was very much in the public. Still, I tried to stay positive. My little boy dropped his strousers, I lifted him up with one arm and turned on the bidet with the other, and….the police arrived. Stadium security tried to tell me that the bidet was actually a fountain! A fountain? Where’s the statute of Adonis or at least Ananke? This a Dikembe Mutombo vanity bidet that needs a layer of paint, I protested. Eventually, my little boy and I returned to our seats. I promised that as soon as we got home, he could sit on the bidet as long as he wanted. Still, the little bugger squirmed in his seat uncomfortably. I can’t blame him.

So, there you have it. MLS is the total backwaters of the soccer world. It certainly has its charms, just as the Congo River offers brilliant panoramic views when guerrilla forces aren’t shooting AK-47′s at one another. I could definitely see myself watching and enjoying some sort of “MLS: Survivor” TV program, at least for a half a season. However, until they provide nutritious projectiles and resolve the outstanding issues with the beret, cabernet, and bidet, don’t expect to see me or my son at a game anytime soon. I’ll just stick to Piers Morgan most Saturday mornings, thank you very much.

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