Are you ready for some football?!

13 Aug

So the Olympics are over. All the Team GB paraphernalia was half-price at the grocery store this morning, and it made me feel a little sad inside. Seven plus years in the making, and just like that it’s passed.

On Saturday I went to my first (and only) official ticketed Olympic event — the men’s football final. We got our tickets way over a year ago, which is the inherit problem with the Olympics that I’m not quite sure how to fix. You have to buy your tickets way before you’ll know who’s playing, making it incredibly hard for people to actually root for their own countries. I think they should reserve a block of tickets and only sell them after the participating countries have been announced so superfans can have a chance. Otherwise you get stuck with a stadium 90% full of Team GB fans who don’t really care about Mexico or Brazil. That’s pretty much what happened in the football final. Whereas Team USA didn’t even qualify, Team GB had a chance, but got knocked out in the quarter finals. The Mexico and Brazil fans at Wembley on Saturday were few and far between. Actually I think the majority of them were British people who thought it would be fun to get drunk, put on a sombrero, and run up and down the aisles screaming, “Viva Mehico!” Yes, most of the excitement of the game did not take place on the field.

And now for the photos I took, because when the game gets boring, TAKE PICTURES. Here are the teams coming out onto the field, accompanied by children. I have no idea why.

They played both national anthems.

And then this happened:

This was on my seat when I arrived. I felt special to be one of the lucky 10,000. “I was there!”

And this is what it looked like, which was hard to tell being in the midst of it. It looks like a few spots are missing…

Because people like this Mexico fan thought it would be better to get a giant sausage than to “lift the athletes and fellow spectators.”

Can I just pause quickly to discuss Wembley Stadium food? My parents rarely let us get stadium food because it’s always ridiculously overpriced, but it always looked and smelled good — ice cream, giant pretzels, nachos, peanuts, hot dogs… Do you know what you can eat at Wembley? Giant sausages (not hot dogs) and meat pies. Meat pies. At a sporting event. They also offered crisps (a tiny container of Pringles) and Cadbury chocolate or wine gums, which are jelly candies that pull out your fillings. Naturally we got a bag of those, along with some cheese and onion Pringles, a watered down yet still not really cold fountain Diet Coke and a bottle of water. The cashier took the cap off the water before handing it to me, meaning I had to go the whole game afraid I was going to kick the bottle over. Stephen told me they take the caps so you can’t fill the bottles up and throw them. Good to know…

There was no bottle-throwing, but we did the wave many times. Can you spot it?

The game opened with a Mexican goal right off the bat, which was really exciting. And then nothing happened for the rest of the half. Here is a picture I took of a goalie. I don’t know which team he’s on because goalies don’t match the rest of the players. He’s wearing Brazilian blue but seems to have a Mexican flag on his chest.

Halftime (is it called halftime in soccer?) was a big disappointment. There were no cheerleaders, dancers or band. Just some reporter dude dancing with the ugly mascot, which they broadcast on the jumbotrons. I do enjoy the guy in the upper left of this photo holding up his scarf backwards. They sold souvenir scarves with both teams featured on them. I noticed many British fans folding them in half and holding up the Mexico side when Mexico was doing well, then switched to the Brasil size when Brazil almost made a goal. That’s what happens when Team GB doesn’t play.

There were a buttload of people there! And I bet they all took the Tube. I thought we were crazy for driving, but we had no problems leaving or arriving. I’m sure there are still a few people trying to get on the train out of Wembley.

Here’s another shot of players. I took many more, but I’ll spare you.

Mexico wins! 2 to 1. Brazil scored in the last few minutes of the game and things finally got exciting, but they weren’t able to tie it. You can see Brazil’s disappointment in this photo.

The London 2012 logo on the stadium.

Wembley and its ridiculous arch.

Never mind the gold medal on the line, the most exciting part of the afternoon was watching the antics of the people in front of us. The women two rows ahead was a real live Brazilian fan and would hop out of her seat with joy every time Brazil did something spectacular like get the ball. This would block the view of the guy in front of me. The first time his wife asked politely if the woman would sit down so they could see. She did, but sprang up again a minute later. Each time it happened the guy became less and less polite, until eventually he screamed “SIT DOWN!” and lightly slapped her on the back. Then she got angry because he touched her and shouted. I had my camera out, ready to capture a fight that could earn me some theoretical Internet dollars on Youtube. But alas, they both calmed down and were quiet the rest of the match.

It was a neat experience being part of history like that, but I’m sure it would have been more fun if USA or Team GB were playing. (Side note: I have never referred to England/Britain/the UK as “GB” before the Olympics, but it’s been shoved down my throat for 16 days straight.)

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