Born Again Soccer Fan


Several months ago Court e-mailed me to mention something on the blog about France’s preparation for the Coupe du Monde. Several months ago, I knew next to nothing about ‘les Bleus’. Now I’m getting hooked – but not necessarily on the game. Soccer in Europe is more than a just a game. It’s a state of mind.

For the first couple weeks back in Paris, I kept asking about France’s team. “They’re old.” No enthusiasm. No excitement about going to Berlin. Last Friday before the crucial match against Togo, the newspaper, Aujourd’hui reported in a recent poll that the majority responded with a no-confidence vote. Apparently women had even less confidence than men. Flip to the back page weather report for the weekend: It could go either one way another – rain and thunderstorms or a general improvement – just like ‘les Bleus”.

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This was the conversation in the doctor’s waiting room friday morning:
“Back in 1998 everybody was out in the streets rejoicing. We never saw such a turnout since Victory Day at the end of World War II. Tonight everyone will be inside.”

Aujourd’hui also reported the wariness of politicians to be too optimistic (Sarkozy is waiting for the Tour de France to get enthusiastic) and also the uncomfortable comparisons are avoided such as ‘the soccer team players are old – just like the government’. But in France, people don’t compartmentalize. Everything appears to be connected. That’s why last Friday night’s victory isn’t just about a game. Today in Aujourd’hui, Jacques Marseille, economist and essayist writes: “People have rediscovered their national pride.” (I can’t wait to see Ukraine play!) Marseille goes on to say that, “It may sound crazy but an economic upturn can come about by soccer.” However this year’s World Cup finishes up, France has got a chance to work its way out of the gloom. Maybe even the weather will get better.