Football Diplomacy ...

For those of you who've noticed, I wear a lot of football (soccer) shirts. I started my little fetish almost 20 years ago when I was sick of just getting a t-shirt or some other little souvenir from the places we travel. Instead, I buy a shirt from the local team. To me, they look better than t-shirts and they're a lot more comfortable over 3 seasons. It also helps me engage in what I call Football Diplomacy. I'll explain.

Football is played all over the world, almost a universal sport and people who love football are not afraid to give their opinion about the game or a particular club or country. This is particularly true in places where alcoholic beverages are served, which I frequent as often as I can in my travels.

Inhibitions down, total strangers will come up to me and start talking about the game, or why they don't like the club or the guy whose name is on the back. Most are knowledgeable of the nuances of the game and I've had some wonderful, hours' long conversations with people I'd never seen before or have again. Language is no barrier, and a few words along with hand and foot gestures gets the point across.

I've also met great friends by what started out as a conversation over the football shirt I was wearing. I still remember how a couple of them started.

My friend Darko who was a bartender aboard Queen Mary 2 at the time and I sat down with a Manchester United shirt on:

"I hate Man U," he said. "I hate Alex Ferguson (the manager at the time). You're an American, what do you know about football?"

Or my friend Terry from Wales when I was wearing a Wayne Rooney England shirt:

"You like Wayne Rooney; do you, boyo? What, you like rubbing his bald little head?"

You can see why they're my friends. Heh ...

In closing I'll say, like diplomacy, the wrong shirt can get you in a lot of trouble. I wore a Fiorentina (Florence, Italy) shirt through Fumicino Rome Airport and was heckled from the front door until I got to the gate by every old Italian guy in the place. I was waiting for them to reenact the crucifixion of Christ, and I was grateful they thought me a poor replacement for Jesus. And I would never, ever wear an Ajax (Amsterdam) shirt in Rotterdam. Stuff I think about before I pack. The one shirt you can get away with in almost every country is a Lionel Messi shirt from Barcelona (I have 2 for tight situations) because he's just that good. I don't see the tradition ending anytime soon.

Cover art ...

I use my own images for my football stories.

Les Champs - Elysees

Dear Friends and Followers,

You may or may not know that my wife and I support a decent number of charities and foundations; our way of giving back for the amazing lives we've been able to live. We don't publicize who we support with the feeling that if people give, they should do it from the heart and not for self-aggrandizement or to guilt others into giving. That's between a person and his/her conscience.

That said, a little sappy love story popped into my head while we were in Paris in August and I 'put it to paper' when we got home. This story doesn't fit with the rest of my stuff; it is considerably shorter than my usual epic long-windedness, so I thought I'd do something different.

Since the story involves one of my favorite football (soccer) clubs, I'm going to donate all the royalties from its sale to the U.S. Soccer Foundation. From their Mission Statement:

"The U.S. Soccer Foundation is addressing these issues through our sports-based youth development program 'Soccer for Success'. Our program uses soccer as a hook to engage children from low-income, urban communities through an evidence based curriculum that increases their nutritional knowledge and physical activity in a safe mentored environment where coaches/mentors help children develop important life skills."

I normally don't bug friends to buy my stuff - you all know I write and if you feel so inclined, you'll buy one without me bugging you - but if you feel like giving, grab a copy. I kept the price low (the Kindle version is less than $3) so it wouldn't pose too much of a barrier. I hope you'll consider it.

Thanks in advance for your support.


Kindle Edition