by Melinda Gallo

Cheering for more than one team during the World Cup

When you are an expat, you walk a fine line between two worlds: where you were raised and where you are currently living. Itís not like you can hold one world in one hand and the other in the other hand; you have to hold onto both worlds with both hands without crushing either one of them. I have the added benefit (and added challenge) of embracing three worlds: Italy, France, and the US. I try to embrace fully the world in which I am right now without negating the other two. At times, it can be a bit challenging especially when there is some international sporting event. For me, the challenge comes around every four years for the World Cup.

I support the US, Italian, and French teams, which to some might be odd. First off, I love calcio (soccer). I have loved calcio ever since I was a young girl. The first time I played in elementary school I scored a goal within minutes of playing. I was the only one jumping up and down for joy because I hadn't realized that the goal I scored was an autogol, as the Italians say or a but contre son camp as the French say, which meant that I kicked the ball into the wrong goal and scored a point for the opposing team. That first day was also the last day of my career as a calciatrice (soccer player). I still loved calcio even though I never played again.

I went to my first partita di calcio (soccer match) when the Olympics were held in Los Angeles in 1994 and some of the partite (matches) were played at Stanford University. I donít remember which country was playing against Italy, but that was when I began to support the Italian team. I was immediately hooked by the sport and was drawn in by the Italian tifosi (supporters) who were just so passionate and joyful. Nowadays, I am a tifosa for my beloved cityís soccer team, ACF Fiorentina and I have an abbonamento (season ticket) in Curva Fiesole, which is where the most passionate tifosi watch the partite and cheer on the squadra (team).

During this year's World Cup, I cheered for the Italian and French teams; however, I felt an even stronger tug on my heartstrings when the US played. Just hearing the national anthem brought tears to my eyes. Fortunately, my three teams (US, Italy, and France) never confronted each other this year. Although, the downside is that they have all now been eliminated too.

So while I did support more than one team during the World Cup, I also continue to embrace more than one country every day. I dislike comparing countries because each one, to me, is special in its own way with its mix of qualities and shortcomings. My heart canít rank them in any order because I don't believe that love can pick favorites. I do prefer to spend more time in Florence than anywhere else. And that isnít because itís the place, but rather because it is where I thrive the most.

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