They Call it Soccer, too

I had originally planned on posting this the next day, but then again, I hadn’t been planning on ending up in the hospital. But, better late than never! Enjoy:

September 11, 2010

15:40

So I’ve been in Seoul for two and a half weeks and have hardly seen the city. I’ve only crossed the Han River three times–today–and twice to the casino. I had to change things up. Obviously, I’m away from Sydney so much that I hate being away anymore than I have to. I will have to find a balance; hopefully having a permanent place and in-home Internet will help.

Right now I’m riding the #5 line to the World Cup Station on the opposite end of the city. I’m a bit curious how long this journey will take, but I should learn this fact sooner rather than later. I’m on my way to see F.C. Seoul play…um…some other team. Its Foreigner Day, so I’ll get a ticket, beer, and a hot dog for only ₩10,000.

…some dude just wandered through the train, yelling, trying to sell some flashlights or something. When I looked around and saw everyone doing their best to try and ignore him, I followed suit.

16:23

On the #6 line now, almost there. Some chick is talking her boyfriend’s ear off and he’s completely ignoring her while playing a baseball video game on his cell phone. I’m not sure which is the bigger stereotype: the gabbing girlfriend or the unresponsive boyfriend?

17:09

Ticket in hand! This sort of feels like that scene from Caddyshack where they open the pool to the caddies for 15 minutes and all hell breaks loose.

I walked around the stadium grounds and found a small, but nice pitch with dozens of young kids, practicing, all in their F.C. Seoul jerseys. I don’t know this with any degree of certainty, but many clubs have feeder programs, often extending down to 6 or 7 year old kids leagues, and I’m betting this was case for these kids. I walked around the pitch, and hoped the parents didn’t think I was some pedophile for taking photos of their kids.

When I got into the stadium, I almost immediately spotted Benjamin, a Swedish exchange student I met last week through a couchsurfing event. We watched the game together and complained about the total lack of talent on the field. The first half was a snooze, other than the occasional show from the cheerleaders. The talent was poor all-around, and any goal-scoring opportunity was a result of a mistake.

The venue was a great place to watch the game. Despite the pouring rain, most fans were high and dry under the roof, that extended out over the seats. As the name suggests, it was constructed for the 2002 World Cup, and has a capacity of nearly 70,000. Sadly, even with the large foreigner turn-out, the crowd was tiny in comparison to the stadium. I couldn’t help but think about what the stadium was like at the height of competition, particularly while hosting the home team.

The game picked up in the second half, with F.C. Seoul coming alive to route the other guys 4-0. Only one of the goals came on a decent strike, the rest were terrible mishaps on defense, including one inexcusable cross that found its way past three defenders and eventually into the back of the net.

After the game we headed to dinner and then a Western-style bar called “Beer O’Clock” and managed to get a pretty decent pale ale on tap. Arsenal and Bolton were playing, and it was some nice detox to see some Premier League football after watching the sport being butchered for 90 minutes earlier.

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