Of friends and football


As millions of soccer fans crowded around their televisions Sunday afternoon for the 2006 Fifa World Cup final match between France and Italy, Hyde Park stirred with its own share of football craze.

Fans packed a Subway restaurant at 57th Street and Harper Avenue screening the game via satellite, enticing passers-by to stop in and catch a few minutes of the game. Loud waves of “oohs” met each nearly missed goal, and patrons applauded each team’s star players.

Two floors above, the mood was just as electric in the apartment of undergraduates Rob Law and Sarah Cohan, where a group of about ten friends gathered to watch the game. “Football is my new religion,” said Cohan, a rising fourth-year and recent convert to the sport. “I always watch all the World Cups,” said Law, a rising third-year in the College, making his loyalties clear with an Italian team shirt. “I’ve always been a fan.” Most of the friends shared his allegiance. “There is one person here for France,” Law said, “but we’re all having fun.”

When France’s Zinedine Zidane head-butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the chest with only ten minutes left in overtime, the friends quickly quieted each other down to find out exactly what had happened. Words like “shocked” and “surprised” circulated. “He’s not thinking about his team,” said Cohan after watching several slow-motion replays of the incident.

When the Italians emerged victorious after winning the penalty shootout 5-3, the delighted revelers headed downtown to cap off the evening. Fresh off the train, they ran into a crowd of elated Italians, waving their country’s flag down the sidewalk. “Come to Millenium Park with us to celebrate,” an Italian fan urged. But exhausted from an afternoon with friends, football, and nothing but finger food, the Hyde Park group opted for dinner—at a small Italian place—instead.

Hassan S. Ali, ’07

Photo: College students Sarah Cohan and Rob Law react during Sunday's game.

July 12, 2006