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World Cup Fever? Not here.

Almost everywhere you go in the world the World Cup is an overwhelming presence. Nobody can talk about anything else. No TV program can avoid focusing on it. It's impossible to walk around cities without seeing soccer jerseys, news about the Cup plastered everywhere and a rising level or nervousness that drives people to ask incessantly: when, oh when does it finally start?!

But not in the US. And more specifically not even in the San Francisco Bay Area where there's a large population of foreigners. The only hint I got that the World Cup was upon us was a pamphlet from DirecTV MAS (the Spanish language package) containing the schedule of games and information about the participating teams.

Of course, I did not need the reminder. I'm among the many that define life as "a succession of those 4 years that seem to fill the void between World Cups".

As the Cup approaches, the level of intensity rises and I find myself constantly distracted and with an irrepressible urge to consult World Cup related news every five minutes. Who else got injured in the latest friendly? What new colorful news item comes out of Maradona's rule as head the Argentinian squad.

The lack of prominence of the World Cup in the US results in an unexpected benefit: it is possible to record games and get back home at night without knowing the results, something that would be unthinkable in any soccer country. Of course you can always make matters worse for yourself by wearing a team's jersey or any other World Cup related article of clothing, in which case chances are someone will approach you and talk to you about games you have not yet watched. But even if you keep a low profile, you still have to deal with your well intentioned co-workers. After all, the only reason to record games is that you still need to go to work, right? Here in Pacific time, the last game of the day takes place at 11:30AM, a rather inconvenient time to step out of the office.

So, I've emailed the following message to my whole company, in the hope that they'll comply and I'll be able to continue going to work during the Cup:

World Cup Etiquette:

The 2010 World Cup (soccer) starts next Friday, on June 11th. It goes on for about a month. This is the most popular sporting event in the world and it takes place just once every 4 years. Anywhere in the world but here in the US, the World Cup is everywhere and people are bursting with anticipation. There are three games a day during the group phase and at most 2 games on selected days during the elimination round. The whole calendar can be found here:

You may be wondering if there's any point to this message at all. There is. During the World Cup, the soccer fanatic that has a full time job has two options: take the month off or keep coming to work while also managing to watch a large percentage of games. I assume most of us intend to continue working during this tumultuous month and we face a real problem: in order to come to work we must record games that happen during work hours and we must get home at night without knowing the results of these games. We set games to record, come to work and avoid all external media for the whole day (no looking at web sites, social networks, etc). But the one thing we cannot control is our coworkers who already know the results of games.

So, in order to maintain your soccer fanatic colleagues' fragile little minds intact during this period I propose the following rule:

* DO NOT, under any circumstances, discuss any games that happen during the current work day.

And it's more subtle than that, because you don't need to say anything. Just approaching your favorite Nigerian coworker after aNigeria game and smiling (or making any sort of gesture) will drive him insane for the rest of the day. Why was that person smiling at me? Is it because we lost and they're enjoying our misfortune? Or maybe it is it because we won, scoring a pile of goals. Maybe they're smiling because nothing exciting happened. Or maybe a bunch of people got red carded. Argh! And so on... :-)

It's ok to discuss yesterday's games. There's no excuse for not being able to watch yesterday's games before coming to work.

That's all. Just one easy rule. Good luck to us all. Hernan.

It's that simple. Now let's enjoy the World Cup.


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