Alan Black

Alan Black fell into the football well decades ago and is still waiting for the splash. He writes about soccer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Follow him @footyheader.

How are they supposed to partake in the World Cup?

Think of those rubbish football teams that never qualify for the World Cup. Imagine being an Andorra fan (turn your globe to Europe), marching to a World Cup qualifier knowing that goals will be hammered into your nation’s net like a berserk carpenter gone wild on a nail gun fetish. Is it not time that FIFA keep one space open at the Finals for total losers?

No, I didn’t think so.

To hell with those losers. They exist for one reason alone. For bigger countries to beat up. Even Scotland can push Andorra around. Or can they? I haven’t been paying attention.

It’s easy to lose track of who you were when age brings gray and roots of fading memory. Treachery is never far behind the soccer immigrant wrapping himself in new colors, in my case, the red, white and blue. Once, I was Scottish. But I recited the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. a while back. When Scotland visited Florida for a friendly a few years ago, I sort of wanted America to win. Drown me in haggis.

So much for Braveheart. Now that the gates to football heresy are open, perhaps I should slip into the confessional booth and ask the hand of God to forgive me for a cardinal sin: I kinda wanted England to win some games at the World Cup. Granted, this desire has been known to induce an uncomfortable sensation in the esophagus. History causes heartburn. But at the end of the drinking afternoon, England coach Roy Hodgson is the uncle you meet in the village pub, dressed in his diamond-checkered pullover, a little pudgy, a pint of mild ale in his hand, and a thoroughly decent chap. He deserved a win.

The Andorran pulling nails from his fate knows pathos. The Scot longing for a trip to the World Cup in a tartan bunnet cherishes the solace of hope. Football roots are not about who you are. What matters is what football gives you.

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