Soccer Gods: “Have you come here to enter into Marriage without coercion, freely and wholeheartedly?”
Me: “I do.”
Soccer Gods: Steven, do you take Roma to be your team? Do you promise to be faithful to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love her and to honor her all the days of your life?
Me: “I do.”
As my own wedding day rapidly approaches on Sunday, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on another marriage that we’ve all agreed to; perhaps without ever saying it aloud. Like it or not, by our words and actions, we’ve all willingly agreed to this one. That is the marriage to Roma, and all that goes along with our love for the Giallorossi.
It may have started for you just like it started for me. You started getting into calcio in your teen years, part of a family a few generations removed from the Bel Paese without loyalties to a “soccer team”. Then you laid eyes on Francesco Totti playing for the Azzurri. You needed a team to support and he intrigued you. And so the courtship began.
However, unlike in the dating world, where as the man you are expected to court the woman (ask the future Mrs. for that story, it’s quite a good one), it was Roma courting me. A few matches watching Totti pull off the unreal, hard tackles from a young De Rossi, plus the promise of a young Alberto Aquilani and I started to fall in love. Throw in my infatuation with Roman history and I didn’t stand a chance.
Soon things got serious and I fell in love. Hard. I couldn’t get enough of her and those lovely giallo and rosso shirts. The atmosphere of her home, the Olimpico, enraptured me. The ecstasy of winning was unparalleled.
In those early years of my relationship with Roma, she was the biggest threat to almighty Inter. She came so close, yet just couldn't close that small gap—a theme that has repeated itself so many times in my decade and a half as a tifoso. Nevertheless, no matter how many times she failed, my love only grew stronger. She only became more beautiful in my eyes.
My love is so strong that it often pains me to miss a match and when I do I’ll usually watch it on delay whether I already know the result or not. We have our weekly, sometimes twice weekly, dates that I just can’t bear to miss. For better or worse, I have agreed to this marriage and I can’t even fathom the thought of turning my back on her, even in the worst of times.
Each year I buy a new shirt or two, often bearing the name of one of her prodigal sons: Totti, De Rossi, Florenzi, and Pellegrini fill my closet. Like a wedding band, they allow me to show my love for her in public, no matter the result. She may disappoint me when things don’t go well, but I am never ashamed. So many others would rather represent a “winner” like Barcelona and Real Madrid, but I will always show support to my squadra del cuore.
She may not be as wealthy as that Old Lady to the north or some of the foreign super models that grace the world of football. They tempt you with their wealth and beauty. But it’s about more than money. You don’t marry for money, you marry for love.
Even from thousands of miles away it is easy to see, why she has captured the heart and soul of so many men; men with talents greater than mine. It would’ve been easy for some of her most prodigious sons to turn their backs on her and find a new love, but they weren’t able to and neither can I. I use what talents I have to write her love letters and sing her praises her at the Chiesa di Totti. A place that turns no one away, as long as, they love and cherish Roma for what she is; blemishes and all.
So, as I willingly enter into marriage with my actual wife, I have to thank her for having the patience to allow me to continue to profess my love for Roma. Even if she still can’t quite fully wrap her head around the whole affair, she has been a good sport about it; accompanying me to meaningless ICC matches the last few summers, expanding my jersey collection, and even proofing some of my work on this here site. So I thank her for that because she enters into our marriage knowing that I am already married to another. And her name is Roma.