Hartford, Connecticut - I knew every last American had been touched by the World Cup when my father-in-law told me how much he enjoyed "the first few innings" of the Brazil-Ivory Coast match.
Needless to say, he's just discovering soccer. He still thinks a red card is what communists keep in their wallets. And yet, like so many of his countrymen, he's suddenly been laid low by World Cup fever, whose symptoms include a dull headache and a stiff neck, the result - in my case - of practicing headers in the driveway. ("Practicing them for what?" my wife inquired. But you never know when that call-up will come for the U-50 national team.)
At long last, soccer ignorami in this country are becoming part of the international community. For most of this past week, I (an American citizen) felt schadenfreude (a German word for "joy in the misery of others") at the spectacular implosion of Les Bleus (the French national team, which mutinied against its own coach while crapping out of the tournament).
That's three countries in a single emotion, the kind of geopolitical awakening most of us only get in America when walking into an International House of Pancakes.
The world watched with awe and derision this past week as the French national soccer team, boasting a roster of star players, imploded on and off the field at the World Cup. In case you missed it, here's the play-by-play.
At half-time during the France-Mexico game, striker Nicolas Anelka insulted French coach Raymond Domenech in the locker room.
Such words, of course, are heard frequently in the half-time locker rooms of losing teams the world over - though not so often spoken to a coach's face. They don't, however, usually decorate the covers of newspapers.
London, England - When it comes to relations between England and Germany it’s hard not to mention the war. It's certainly the case with football, which proved a symbol of peace in World War One when German and English troops stopped fighting one Christmas and instead played each other at soccer.
However, it was used by Hitler for propaganda just prior to World War Two, when the England team gave a Nazi salute at an international game in Berlin.
Official matches between the two sides date back 110 years. The most famous came in the 1966 World Cup final, when a hat-trick from Geoff Hurst earned England a 4-2 extra-time victory over the then West Germany - a match that England fans now recall with the chant of “two World Wars and one World Cup.”
Editor's note: CNN Hong Kong Operations Supervisor Matthew Booth will attempt to watch every match of the World Cup on television in the wee small hours of the night. Can he do it without being fired/divorced/committed to an asylum? Follow his updates here, as he becomes more and more incoherent from extreme sleep deprivation.
Hong Kong, China - “Booth! What is UP with soccer man?!” screamed CNN’s Asian Business Editor Eunice Yoon, as I walked into the office today.
She proceeded to hold me personally responsible for bad calls made by referees in the previous USA games and went on to allude to the perfect nature of officiating in “American” sports.
While I did discreetly chuckle when the Americans had, not one, but two perfectly good goals wrongly disallowed, I assured Eunice I had nothing to do with either decision and told her that rage-inducing anguish is one of the best parts of the game.