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Soccer rules world — except for U.S. (Read the latest from the World Cup)

Asier Garcia is a man without a country in this year's World Cup. But that's not going to stop Garcia, who emigrated from the Basque country to Boise nine months ago, from savoring every minute of the world's most popular sporting event.

"It's like the most important thing every four years. It's like the event of the year. Soccer is very important, all the leagues and all the teams," Garcia said.

It's not something we Americans can easily grasp. Soccer, for most of us, is a game played by little kids before they move on to more traditional sports, like baseball and football. The World Cup, for most of us, isn't on the radar when it comes to sporting events.

It's not the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NCAA Tournament or the NBA Finals.

To the rest of the world, it's all those things rolled into one. The 25-year-old Garcia, even in his limited exposure to this nation's sports fans, has figured it out.

"It's a different culture mixture. You guys have a lot of different games and sports that you watch on TV and watch on Sundays, but we only have one, which makes it bigger than anything else," he said. "Some root for baseball, some root for football. There, everybody roots for soccer. That makes it bigger."

Make no mistake, the World Cup is big. Big enough, as the commercial states, to stop wars. Also, big enough to start them.

Think U.S. businesses suffer during March Madness. Try running a European business during the World Cup.

As passionate as we are about our favorite college team or professional squad, it simply doesn't match the level of devotion to the national soccer team in nations around the world.

It's a monthlong party in the Basque Country, Garcia said.

"We drink a lot of beer and kalimotxo also. We have a lot of fun," he said.

"Everybody goes to the most important bars and everybody is screaming and yelling with each other when nobody has a team. When everybody roots for the same team, that doesn't happen. One side of the bar is rooting for one team and the other side of the bar is rooting for the other."

In the Basque country, which is located in northern Spain and southwestern France, loyalties are divided. Though some Basque players compete for Spain, Garcia cannot bring himself to root for the Spanish. The Basque have pushed for their own national soccer team, but those efforts have been defeated.

"I can't root for anybody because Spain is a team that has the Basque players, but we want our own selection, the Basque selection. We can't do that because the Spanish government doesn't allow us to have our own World Cup team. I don't agree with rooting for Spain, but I like our Basque players," Garcia said.

"It's very difficult. The Basque people say, 'Root for the Spanish World Cup team because they have the Basque players,' but the Basque people don't like the colors of Spain. We don't root for it."

Instead Garcia — whose true soccer passion is Basque-only Athletic Club de Bilbao — roots for the beautiful game at the World Cup. He wants to see the world's best players performing at their best on the biggest stage. He's partial to The Netherlands and Brazil because of their creative styles of play.

And since he can't be home for the tournament, Garcia, a sous chef at Leku Ona Basque in Downtown Boise, will instead celebrate the best he can. The restaurant aims to be the premier World Cup destination in Boise.

There will be plenty to eat and, of course, drink.

Even in a strange land that lacks sufficient soccer passion, and without a team to call his own, Garcia is going to enjoy this World Cup.

After all, it's the most important thing every four years for just about everyone but us.

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