The Flea

"I know who I'm supporting!"

“I know who I’m supporting!”

The World Cup is on and our three children, each with three nationalities apiece, get the traditional grilling: Who are you going to support?

They could choose their Argentina – and that of their grandfather. Or they could choose the England of their mother and their other three grandparents on Mum and Dad’s sides. Or they could simply choose the U.S. for Dad.

Of course, with England out of the tournament, the choice has narrowed.

But before this fate, the answer from the 9- and 11-year-olds was simple: “All three!”

It’s a wise choice. You have better odds of advancing to the final, something that has eluded Argentina since 1990 and England since 1966. And the U.S.? Well, it hasn’t ever made the final since the tournament started in 1930. But with the advance of the years, it increasingly draws aspirations that someday it will, a fate fueled again this year by its good performance.

But when pressed for our passion, that’s when the question of allegiance comes out clear. I’m for Argentina. I had been for England out of love for my wife and my mother’s roots. This is something that had ruffled my Argentine father, who once said, “Ah, you’ve gone over to the other side.” As in the dark side.

My love for my wife has not waned. Not at all. But if you corner me, I’ll squeal out my allegiance for Argentina when it comes to the World Cup.

My wife? Even though she has three Argentine children, she’s still a die-hard England supporter no matter her country’s listless play in this tournament. I sit and listen to her as she vents about England’s spoiled chance in yet another World Cup, wisely choosing to simply nod and agree.

But what about the allegiance of our youngest daughter?

At six years of age, she is living her first World Cup with a grasp of what is going on. So far she has expressed her love for Argentina. She takes a flag to watch the matches on TV and squeals when the presenter says, “Messi.” That’s her favorite player: Lionel Messi, a striker who is known affectionately as La Pulga, or the flea, for his short and slender stature and his lightening-fast speed. He has scored two goals so far in the tournament even while the rest of the Argentine squad fails to show their full potential.

So if you corner our youngest daughter and ask her who she is supporting, well, she doesn’t pussyfoot around. She doesn’t waver. She doesn’t blink. She says it out loudly and bluntly: La Pulga.

It’s not a bad choice.

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