Soccer is a ‘beautiful game’ to many

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115273815829368.jpg’, ”, ‘Andrea Pirlo’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115273817129368.jpg’, ”, ‘Fabio Grosso’);

Italy claims 2006 World Cup title after 5-3 penalty kick shootout over France

Two weeks have passed since my first column criticizing the game of soccer appeared. Last week, I wrote a follow-up column defending my original position and clarifying a couple of points from the original column. In the follow-up piece, I referenced an e-mail I received from two young ladies who enjoyed watching and playing the game. I chose to include a portion of their letter because, at the time, it was the only one I had received, and I thought it was “cute.”

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to hear from another dozen or so readers. Most of the other letters I received via e-mail have not necessarily been as cute as the original. One reader went as far as suggesting I remove my head from one of my other body parts and watch the game for what it really is, “a spectacular display of athleticism.”

Another reader stated she would no longer read my column because I made her feel “worthless” because she liked soccer. I sincerely hope no one would ever get to that point because of something I wrote. My suspicion is something else might be going on in her life. I would like to offer her an apology, but since she said she’d no longer be reading my stories, I guess it wouldn’t make any difference.

I also heard from my sixth grade Spanish teacher, Loren Floto. He called soccer “the beautiful game.” We ended up talking on the phone for a few minutes. It was nice to chat with someone whom I hadn’t spoken with in more than 30 years. Muchas gracias!

I stand by my original position: I will never be a fan of professional soccer. However, thanks to the responses I’ve received, I now have a slightly better understanding of the adults who enjoy the game. This will be the last column I intend to write about this subject. Thanks to all of you who took the time to e-mail me.

The real bottom line is, whatever sport you are a fan of (even if it happens to be soccer), enjoy the games for whatever personal or shared reasons you may have and always try to appreciate the talents of the amateur and professional athletes who continue to entertain us.

Editor’s note: For those who are fans of World Cup soccer, Italy defeated France July 8 in a 5-3 penalty shootout after a 1-1 tie in regulation to claim the 2006 World Cup title.

Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo was named Man of the Match in the final, although 28-year-old Italian left back Fabio Grosso has been tabbed Italy’s World Cup hero.

Grosso won a late penalty kick in Italy’s second-round match against Australia that led to a 1-0 Italy win. Then, in the semi-finals, Grosso scored against Germany a minute before the end of overtime, helping secure a 2-0 Italy victory. Finally, in the final-round shootout July 8, Grosso connected on the deciding penalty kick, giving Italy the 5-3 edge that clinched the title.

While Italy claimed the title match against France, Germany defeated Portugal 3-1 in the third-place match.

The U.S. (1 point) failed to qualify for the Tournament after finishing last in Group E behind Italy (7 points), Ghana (6 points) and the Czech Republic (3 points).

Doug Halberstadt is a local resident and is track announcer at Rockford Speedway. He can be reached via e-mail at

From the July 12-18, 2006, issue

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