Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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why this american is rooting for sweden

For all of the sports inclined people out there, it won’t be news that the Olympics are currently occurring. For all of the women’s soccer enthusiasts it won’t be news that the USA woman’s team has won four golds in the past five Olympics. Or I should say, six Olympics, as this Olympics marks a marked decline in the teams results with a loss to Sweden in the quarter finals.

Why, you may ask, would this American then be rooting for the exact team that dashed the USA team’s chances and dreams of winning a fourth consecutive Olympic gold? My answer is Pia Sundhage.

Pia Sundhage

To summarize the media coverage (and awesome memes), after the US lost to Sweden in a nail-biting shoot out, Hope Solo called the Swedish team a bunch of cowards. When asked about this comment Pia Sundhage said “Jag skiter i vilket. Jag ska till Rio, hon ska hem.” The popular translation of which is: “I don’t give a crap. I’m going to Rio, she’s going home”. My personal translation would be “I don’t give a shit…” but I suppose that makes for a slightly less child-friendly meme. So I understand the distinction.

Hope & Pia

What makes tonight’s final even more exciting is the nail-biting shootout win that brought the Swedish team here. After an initial loss to Brazil in group play, Sweden came to play this past Tuesday. Overcoming the initial loss was no small thing either, the two team’s first meeting this Olympics was an epic loss for Sweden with Brazil finding the back of the net a full five times. But with another grand display of defensive play the Swedish team did it again in five shootout shots, with two saves by Lindahl.

And yes, no one in Sweden has any finger nails anymore after all this shootout action.

The cherry on top is that Pia Sundhage was the head coach of the US women’s team for the past two Olympic golds. That is to say Sundhage is coaching tonight for her third gold in a row. Making their win over the US team a little sweeter for the Swedes, and her response to Solo’s comments all the better. But wait, this also happened: A reporter asked Sundhage if she could coach a men’s team. What do you think she said?

A whole country

Mic drop…

Now, I hope I’ve convinced you to also root for Sweden tonight. As we say in Sweden: Heja Sverige!

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sweden : portugal :: zlatan : ronaldo

The other day the idrottsgalan was on television. That’s Athletics Gala for all you non-Swedish speakers out there. Where the athletes of Sweden are awarded prizes and it is broadcast on television.

Evelina really wanted to see it because a friend of hers was there. A friend and former teammate. The captain of the Swedish Women’s National ice hockey team. Fancy. We turned the TV on just in time, as she was being interviewed.

At this Gala Zlatan Ibrohimavic was up for a number of awards. He wasn’t actually there, so this picture showed up on the screen a lot:

picture found here

picture found here

Seeing Zlatan reminded me of a time when the hockey team I play for worked at an event. We work at various events in order to earn money for our team. To pay for bus trips and such. The event was a soccer game, and yes Zlatan was on the field. It was a match up between Sweden and Portugal. Or, as many sports news outlets discussed, a competition between Zlatan Ibrohimovic (of Sweden – if that wasn’t yet clear), and Christiano Ranaldo (of Portugal).

picture found here

picture found here

Now, I don’t claim to know very much about soccer (also known across the world as football). To be honest, before the game at The Globe in Stockholm, I didn’t even know what Christinao Ronaldo looked like. The only thing I knew about him was that one of the children at my pre-school claims to be his brother. (They don’t share a last name, so I have my doubts.)

Globen - Zlatan & Ronaldo

After seeing him in person though, on the field, looking smoking. I think I may have my first crush on a soccer player. (Sorry Beckham.) This athlete is good looking, to say the least. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about his Swedish counterpart. I enjoyed working the game, and getting peeks at the play on the field. As well as standing field-side. (Do they say that in soccer? My goal was to apply “court-side” to soccer.) Live soccer is actually relatively exciting. I can see why so many people are absolutely insane about it. Alright, maybe there should be a limit to the insanity…but then it wouldn’t be insanity, would it?

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spain it is

Seeing as I now live in Europe, I now watch soccer on TV. Football. Sorry.

The Eurocup final was last night, and Spain came out on top. I have to admit, I was really pulling for Italy. After their defeat of Germany, I even thought they could do it. (Despite Balotelli’s intentional yellow card — which I don’t blame him for, two goals against Germany is a big deal.)

After their first goal at 14 minutes by number 21 David Silva, and a pretty early second goal at 41 minutes by the left defender number 18 Jordi Alba, (yes, Alba is 23. I’m not jealous or anything) it seemed after just the first half that Spain was going to pull out on top. And I’m not just saying this after the fact, this really was discussed mid-game. You’ll never know if it wasn’t.

Side bar: Look how informed I sound!! Seems like I’ve been watching soccer for ages!!! Football! Damnit…but seriously guys, if I hadn’t told you I just started watching, you’d all be fooled!!

Anyway… at 84 minutes, Fernando Torres, a sub in at 56 minutes, scored!! I have to say, I’m pretty sure touched the ball twice before his goal scoring shot. Not bad. THEN Juan Mata scored the fourth goal at 88, after subbing for Andres Iniesta with a beautiful assist from Torres. Again, probably the second time he touched the ball as well. Not a bad night for the coaches. You could say that. So I did.

The final was played in Kiev Ukraine, starting at 20:45 my time, which is the only time that matters. The game concluded 4-0 at 22:36. Despite massive goaltender Buffon, Italy couldn’t pull it off. And impressive shirtless Balotelli. It was Spain’s night, for both the starters and the subs. Glory all around. ¡Viva España!

Spain celebrating their win on our TV! Yes, this is what our TV looks like, and yes, those are African animals staring you down.