Euro 2008 – give it a try

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 3, 2008

Does anything come to mind when I mention the acronym UEFA?

Anything at all?

Didn’t think so.

It stands for the Union of European Football Associations (or Union des associations europ/ennes de football).

Now when I say football, I don’t mean American football.

What we call soccer is what the rest of the world calls football.

I bring all this up because this week the Euro 2008 tournament will be starting in Austria and Switzerland.

Never heard of it?

I hadn’t either until four years ago, when I was on a tour of Europe.

From the day we landed in London, this tournament was front-page headlines.

Wayne Rooney, still a teenager, was one of the surprise stars of the English national team.

Everywhere you looked, there were English flags flying.

Our hotel was down the street from a quaint little pub, and it was packed with people watching the matches.

After leaving England, the next stop was France, where people were just as interested.

I watched some of the games, and I honestly enjoyed it.

Some of the complaints I’ve heard about soccer are the pace.

Some people say it’s just too boring.

It amazes me that most of these people are baseball fans, too.

Sure, soccer is a low-scoring game, but when things break loose, it gets exciting.

These guys are true athletes to be running around for 90 minutes, not to mention the precision kicking, headers and occasional bicycle kicks.

Maybe one reason Americans aren’t too interested in the game is that we’re honestly not that good at it.

Traditionally, our teams aren’t a threat in international competition.

We had some decent teams back in the ’90s with Alexi Lalas (we actually hosted the World Cup in 1994).

The last couple of World Cups weren’t too shabby either.

The U.S. women, on the other hand, have been one of the best in the world over the last decade or so.

Remember the 1999 World Cup in China when Brandi Chastain scored the winning goal over China and then proceeded to rip off her shirt and fall to her knees?

Yeah, that was a pretty big deal.

The team also won gold at the Olympics in 1996 and 2004, and a silver medal in 2000.

I think we should really try to pay more attention to soccer.

I know I’m going to watch every match I can of Euro 2008.

Too bad they play at night in Europe, which ends up being the middle of the afternoon here.

If you happen to be at home and you’ve already seen Days of Our Lives, go ahead and flip over to soccer.

Three billion people around the world can’t be wrong.