The glorious days of preseason football are wrapping up (thank GOD) which means that days and days of meaningless games and cups will no longer have to be ignored by fans of the beautiful game.
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the necessities of preseason football; the players have been off for an entire two months and they need to get back into shape and gain their match fitness again. The problem, though, is that no one cares.
Case in point: The Peace Cup, where literally dozens of people showed up to watch Aston Villa beat out Juventus on penalty kicks (there’s nothing quite like seeing a sea of empty yellow seats…it’s the same feeling I get when I see Florida Marlins highlights; “really?” followed by sheer pity for a team that is actually decent).
I seem to be complaining quite a bit, but that’s not what I’m getting at here. Preseason friendlies are actually a great opportunity for fans in cities around the world to see the teams that they would never have an opportunity to see unless they came to town to play in the useless and meaningless cup match. Case in point (you try and find another word for ‘case in point’): Real Madrid vs. Toronto FC.
The boys from Spain were in town these past few days to put their skill on display and boy oh boy, did they ever. They crushed Toronto 5-1 in a match that put on display the reason why MLS is never taken seriously and the vast difference in class between the two sides (but hey at least Gabe Gala has a memory for the rest of his life at 7:07). It was truly a joy to behold and made me understand why I enjoy European football more than the MLS; because it’s better…a lot better.
And yet I still digress from the point I’m trying to make. The city was in havoc over the past three days as Real Madrid’s arrival, open practice and of course the match were the centerpiece of many newscasts. And I watched in agony and disgust as all the newscasters did the same thing:
“Ree-Al Madrid are in town to take on the FC”
“FC are set to show off their skills to Los Galacticos”
One sportscaster even made the mistake of calling Alvaro Arbeloa, “ArLEBOA” (and he did it more than once) All of these things just made me cringe and writhe in agony. Although the name pronounciation is forgivable (because who really cares about Alvaro Arbeloa anyways? Sergio Ramos, that’s who; he’ll need someone to keep the bench warm) something that people don’t seem to understand here is the fact the “FC” is not a term that should be used to refer to a football club. In fact, I don’t even think that half the people in this town know what “FC” actually stands for, but that is an argument for another day.
Now if you’re reading this rant in Europe, you’re probably laughing at our North American backwardness. Not once have I ever heard Liverpool referred to as simply “FC” or Manchester United referred to “United FC.” Can you imagine that? “Hey, we’re going to Anfield to see FC take on AC in the Champions League.” It’s ridiculous! The only exception that comes to mind is the fact that “United” generally produces the image of those guys who play in red and come from Manchester in my mind. Never once has someone said “United” and I thought of Newcastle or Leeds. That may be the only exception to the rule for Europe, but if they had it their way over here, FC would have been taking on CF in a preseason friendly match. I repeat, it’s ridiculous!
I hope that the people reading this in North America are laughing as well, but I am certain that there are some out there who don’t see what the big deal is. Certainly, I am making a mountain out of a mole hill, but at the end of the day, “FC” is not a nickname for the team, something that people have become accustomed to in North America with all these sports teams adopting nicknames (i.e. the Maple Leafs and the Blue Jays).
In Europe, from what I’ve noticed, teams do not pride themselves in their nicknames, but rather their city names. They don’t play for the Red Devils, they play for Manchester United. Over here, for some reason, you don’t play for Toronto, you play for the Maple Leafs. It’s a silly (and yet ever so cool) tradition here to give nicknames to teams (even gramatically incorrect ones) and it is an equally cool tradition to not have nicknames in European sports.
The problem, though, if you’ve ever watched a sportscast in Toronto, is the fact that no one seems to understand this. Not once have I heard them referred to as simply “Toronto.” They always feel the need to tack on the “FC” or “TFC” or “The Reds” and it becomes slightly annoying that nobody seems to have adapted the culture of football over here. It seems as though they want the European game with North American culture, but to me that’s like feeding a dog cat food. It won’t work and until the MLS realizes this (and of course takes away that silly salary cap) it never will.