The Woes Of The World Cup Fans Far From Home

It isn't easy being a World Cup fan in a country where spouses and bosses just don't understand soccer. WNYC's Jim O'Grady reports that some immigrants with World Cup fever in the U.S. must go to great lengths to catch their home country's games on TV.

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The World Cup starts tomorrow and, for weeks, immigrant fans in the US have been making plans to watch their home countries' games. For the lowdown on viewing strategies Jim O'Grady of member station WNYC visited a pickup soccer game in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.

JIM O'GRADY, BYLINE: The game in the park is played most Sundays, Andreas Cohrssen has rarely missed one since moving to New York from Germany in 1986. He's a doctor who works in Manhattan and he is a big World Cup fan.

ANDREAS COHRSSEN: There's a restaurant close to where I work and they show the games.

O'GRADY: He sounds distracted because he's talking over shoulder while playing goalie. As the action moves the far end, he tells me that when Germany is playing while he's at work, he'll time his lunch break to coincide with the end of the game.

COHRSSEN: It's just fantastic. If you see the last 15 minutes of the game it's all the tension of the game if it's on the line - if it's not 4-0 already.

O'GRADY: In the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup, Germany and Argentina were tied after overtime. Cohrssen says he and his fellow fans willed the German goalkeeper to prevail in the penalty kick shootout.

COHRSSEN: Just on the basis of this crowd of people putting all their energy into supporting the goal keeper.

O'GRADY: The couple hundred of people in a restaurant, in Manhattan - you're saying they advanced the German national team in the World Cup?

COHRSSEN: There's no question about that.

O'GRADY: You're a man of science, how can you say that?

COHRSSEN: Because I've witnessed it with my own eyes.

O'GRADY: Cohrssen is so enthralled by his theory that he's late to witness Fiorenzo Borghi bearing down on goal and shooting. What just happened, Andreas?

COHRSSEN: Oh, this was one of those moments where the ball goes right between your legs.

O'GRADY: After scoring, Borghi trots to the sideline with the swagger of Ronaldo and takes a swig from a water bottle. Borghi is a freelance photographer who was unavailable if a client tries to hire him at a time where Italy is playing a World Cup game.

FIORENZO BORGHI: I say well, I'm booked already.

O'GRADY: You tell them why?

BORGHI: No, I tell them I have another job.

O'GRADY: And what's that other job?

BORGHI: Watching the game. (Laughing) It's a job.

O'GRADY: Borghi is confident about his team's chances. He and his family will watch Italy's first game against England at an art gallery owned by English friends.

BORGHI: We go there to see them suffer.

O'GRADY: World Cup suffering is familiar to Abdulai Jalloh, a filmmaker from Sierra Leone, who cancels everything together with friends and root for African teams like Cameroon and Ivory Coast though an African team has never won the tournament. He says the best World Cup he ever saw was Senegal versus France in 2006 for its post-colonial frisson.

ABDULAI JALLOH: Man, it was fantastic to see, you know, whooping France asses - excuse my language.

O'GRADY: His teammate Eric Gayle is from Jamaica, but Gayle's team is...

ERIC GAYLE: Straight Brazil - Pele, the greatest ever.

O'GRADY: Gayle says he's arranged to get off early from his custodians job to watch Brazil play Croatia. His friend Andre Hudson, another Jamaican, roots for England. Hudson says he doesn't think he'll be working when England placed Uruguay but if he is...

ANDRE HUDSON: I'm probably going to call out and make up some excuse.

O'GRADY: What kind of excuse do you use?

HUDSON: Dog sick. My favorite one is my sister has an emergency and I'm the only one that can go there and rescue her. I have a lot of them.

O'GRADY: Hudson says he can use that one if you need it. My sister has an emergency and I'm the only one who can rescue her. Then enjoy the game. For NPR News, I'm Jim O'Grady in New York

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