Michel Sellier's Gallic face peers over a cup of his own Cafe de Paris espresco, blending in with wall posters of soccer stars from around the world.
Flastered randomly about the little shop are the huge green pennant exchanged by team captains when West Germany played Liberia, current standings of the Capital Soccer League and a jersey worn by a player on Sellier's favorite Paris first-division club, St. Germain.
"I guess it was because of my father that I fell in love with soccer," Sellier said, the last word coming out more like "sock-air" in his Seine-soaked accent.
"I was not rich enough to play - my father put me to work when I was 13 - but I used to follow him to the stadium all the time."
In this country soccer has taken hold mostly in middleles or with first- and second-generation ethnics, but in Europe and Latin America it is the sport of working people. When Sellier says he was not rich enough to play he subtly indicates just how poor he was.
"But that's not so important, we can talk about sock-air," he said.
It was an April Thursday and Sellier, 43M was riding high. It was the third anniversary of the opening of his cafe and the day of the fourth renewal of the almost-annual battle betweent he cafe's Georgetowners soccer team and the Ringling Brothers Tigers, captained by Tito, the man on the flying trapeze.
Sellier closed shop for the day and waiters and bakers and waitresses put to their Cafe de Paris tee shirts, found the huge flag with the red and blue [WORD ILLEGIBLE] et poisson insignia and trekked cut to the Jelleff Boys Club on Wisconsia Avenue.
Sellier played a few minutes himself, "even though I've long retired. But Tito and I, we have become such good friends from this, I feel I must play some."
At the game Sellier and Washington Diplomats' coach Dennis Viollet exchanged cheerful hellos.
As the game went on, Viollet had a chance to comment on Sellier's patronage of the game locally. Sellier figures he has invested about $20,000 in his team and the new Capital Soccer League. "Is that all, 20 grand?" Viollet asked. "My God, I know he's spent a logtune on it."
The league is a new concept in the area, Viollet said, and he's been happy to participate by letting a Diplomats reserve team play in it.
There was a big gap that had to be closed between the amateurs and the pros," Sellier said. "Now we want to expand, since we have a start."
There are plans to include teams from Baltimore and Richmond, perhaps even Norfolk, Philadelphia, North Carolina. What makes the league unique is Sellier's effort to break away from the traditional ethnic team concept typical of big-city leagues.
And soccer people across the area agree it is unusual that a foreigner is taking the lead in Americanizing the game at this level.
"When I cam here I wanted to have a French team, too," said Sellier, who has been in this country eight years, "until I realized that it was wrong.
"It's like my cafe. At first I wanted all French people to come - then I realized it was stupid. People would come and ask for cheesecake and I would say, 'I'm a French baker (bakeair), why should I bake cheesecake?'
"But I saw I was losing money, and besides, I like cheesecake myself, so why shouldn't I have cheesecake?"
What crystallized his belief that soccer teams in the area should be American-oriented was a bad experience with his team in the National Soccer League, the downtown league that has become predominantly Latin American.
Sellier does not like to talk about that time - he fears he will be misunderstood - but it is known that he was disturbed by the fighting.
Sellier also feels the professional teams are going too slowly in Americanizing. He said if they would play more Americans, more people would come, "simple as that." Besides, the standard of play is getting much better among Americans.
Sellier thinks cities should subsidize local teams. "In France for example, in every town the city votes credit for whatever team there is . . . it's better that your taxes go to sport and not for war. If everybody puts a quarter or a dollar in, then they all feel like the team belongs to them."
Sellier pointed out that he no longer calls his team Cafe de Paris. "I call them the Georgetowners. I try to get the people from around here involved in it. The whole village or the whole town should be involved."
Sellier does not expect to get any of his money back, nor does he view the team as an advertising tool.
"I don't need it, the advertisement," he said. "I get so many people from all over the world, I hardly have any room for them all."
And what about those rumors that went around before the start of the Capital Soccer League that Michel Sellier's trip to France was a recruiting trip for new player-waiters?
"No way," he said. "I don't want to mix soccer with my business, because I'm very tough with my business."