This is why you could feel the tension in the air when the 24th Annual Consulate Cup was to be launched. Was Norway going to defend the title from last year? Had the Danes put the beer aside to practice? Would the Finns borrow, disguise and play with Brazilians as strikers? Had we, the Swedes, recovered from all the Crayfish parties?
The Consulate Cup is a soccer tournament played on behalf of the San Francisco Consul Generals of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. The annual event draws many Scandinavians to help cheer on the soccer teams and celebrate our common heritage. It is a day to spend with family and friends, enjoy a picnic in the sun, laugh and watch mediocre, passionate soccer. It is a day for having fun. However, once you have put on shin-guards, taken your last warm-up rush and the referee blows the whistle, you still do not want to lose the game .…
The Honorable Barbro Osher, Consul of Sweden, opened the Consulate Cup and after a warm welcome and introduction by the Danish team Captain Jesper Lundbaek, Osher finished her speech with the words: “Good Luck to all and may the best team win—as long as it is Sweden.” Her speech was followed by each country’s national anthem and as I stood there with my hand pressed against my blue and yellow chest, singing “Du gamla, du fria,” I was convinced that we were not going to let our Consul General down.
It all began according to expectations. Finland did not have any Brazilians posing as strikers and was no match for the very interacting and well organized Norwegian team. The opening game ended 5-0 and on the sideline we all realized that the four-years-in-a-row champions were going to be our toughest opponent. We played Denmark first and the game resulted in the opposite outcome of what lately has been customary (in the last two national World Cup qualification games Sweden bitterly lost both games 1-0). We won 1-0 after an early goal in a tight game. The Swedish supporter watching from the sideline experienced 60 nervous minutes. Even though Sweden, on the whole, was the stronger team Denmark was far from harmless. Sweden came off victorious, but barely.
While watching Denmark take on Finland in the third game we all avoided the heat. From the shadows we could see Denmark dominating and winning the bronze. The tactic for the final was secondary and it was going to come down to attitude and the willingness to win. The sun had turned the field into a boiling green sea. With a classic 4-4-2 lineup and a lot of water it was time to take our rich western neighbor down to earth. But something happened. After a misunderstanding and argument with the referee about a very questionable free kick Norway scored, during the first half they were also awarded two (!) just-as-questionable penalties. We came off the field being down 2-0. With not much else to do, we stepped out to play the tournament’s last 30 minutes prepared to turn the situation around. The Norwegians seemed pleased with being up two goals and it did not take long until a beautiful volley, five meters outside the penalty area swished into the net. Contact. 2-1. During the last 20 minutes of the game everything was about attacking forward but the ball just wouldn't bounce our way and by the end of the game Norway sealed the deal by scoring their third goal and became champions for an unprecedented 5th time in a row.
It is a bitter feeling losing to a neighbor, but the feeling does not last for very long. Once you shake your opponent's hand and have your first beer in front of you, the bitterness disappears, leaving you in company of family, great friends and a feeling of how much fun it is to play soccer and be part of a team, sharing both the joy and the disappointments. And even though it is hard to for me to admit, Norway deserved to win.

Norway 5- Finland 0
Sweden 1- Denmark 0
Denmark 1- Finland 0
Norway 3- Sweden 1


Thank you all who made this day possible: the Consul Generals offices, Spaten Beer Intl., the teams themselves and Mill Valley Family Chiropractic. The 25th Tournament will be exceptional. Please stay tuned and join us on the mission to not let the Norwegians reach 6th in-a-row.

Submitted by Erik Bustad, SACC-SF/SV