Greece recently pulled off quite an upset to win the European soccer championships. Italy, on the other hand, got knocked out of the tournament pretty early and never really lived up to their expectations. Not that I care too much, I’m a big cycling fan, and am not too interested in watching matches drag on with no goals as is often the case with soccer. However, it’s impossible not to be aware of important soccer matches in Italy, especially when the national team (or “side” as our British friends would say) is playing. People take off from work early, no one is out on the streets, and a hushed silence falls over the city, but for thousands of televisions tuned to the same channel echoing out from countless windows. Even my fiancee, Ilenia, who normally isn’t much interested in sports, got into the act and made me sit down and watch a few of the games with her.

Of course it’s natural to get wrapped up in the action, when the national honor is at stake (europeans have cleverly substituted soccer for having a big war every so often), but one of the things that I always find funny is the use of the 1st person plural, “noi” (we) to talk about how things are going. Noi abbiamo giocato bene – we played well. Abbiamo perso – we lost! And so on… It’s not “our team”, or “the national team” or anything like that, it’s “we”. I find it particularly funny to watch someone sat down on the couch in front of the TV, maybe with a can of pringles and a beer, talking about how “we” are playing. Unfortunately, the humor was lost on my disconsolate friends watching their team bow out of the championships, and they certainly didn’t appreciate my suggestions that “they” should keep their eye on the ball and run faster – no wonder “they” are losing, if they just sit down in front of the couch while the other team runs up and down the field…

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