A boyfriend once made me sit through an entire football match at Oslo’s Ullevål stadium. It was decades ago, but I remember it was Manchester United. I also remember it was possible to stretch out and take a nap. Oh, and did I mention, he’s an ex-boyfriend now?

I just didn’t catch the fever. Still haven’t. In Norway, that places me solidly among the minority. In their book, Soccernomics, Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski claim Norwegians are the most footie-crazed people of all – or, as they put it: The country that loves soccer the most is Norway. Apparently, we play the most and watch the most.

Totally believable. Norway isn’t among the participating countries in the 2010 World Cup. Even so, local newspapers run stories of people quitting their jobs to watch the matches. Others build World Cup studios in garages and sheds. Fortunately, most don’t go to such extremes. Instead they settle for watching the matches on a big screen at home, in a pub, or perhaps at work?

Serious Norwegian newspapers advocate letting employees watch during work hours. And they’re in good company. Last week, Dieter Hundt, head of Germany’s national employers’ association, said in an interview with Berliner Zeitung: Let Germans watch World Cup at work.

Back in Oslo, avid footie fans will appreciate visiting Kontraskjæret, the grassy hill by Akershus Fortress on 23 June, when an enormous 40 square meter (!) screen will televise the day’s match. Seems oddly appropriate to watch nations hash it out against the backdrop of a medieval fortress.

Soccer Norway

Despite the German flags, this is Norwegian footie fans

Photo by lokha on flickr’s Creative Commons