Monday, July 11, 2016

When a child makes up for football violence and saves Europe’s dignity

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I’m not a football fan. So I wasn’t following the whole Euro 2016 hoo-hah. To be honest, I was following it in my own way, watching what was happening around it, and besides the always-happy-always-singing Irish, it was quite an embarrassment for Europe. But then, at the end of it all, a child saved the day.

Hooligans, violence, fans turning into extremists, insulting each other, fighting with each other, hurting each other, breaking things, burning cars. That was the spectacle that was happening on the side of the Euro 2016. A very embarrassing and undignifying spectacle. Especially after anyone that voted for the Brexit was labeled an asshole.

During the Brexit campaign, and after the surprising outcome, everyone was telling us how wonderful Europe is, how people from so many different countries embraced each other, and despite all their differences, insisted on living together in one big happy entity called the European Union.

But football changed all that. Suddenly everyone hated everyone, everyone waved their own flag, wore their own tribal colors, saw the other as the enemy, prayed for their team to win, for the other’s teams to lose, to be crushed even. And when that didn’t happen, when the final score didn’t match the high expectations, violence started. Europeans vs Europeans. Suddenly Brexit voters seemed like choirboys.

But then, at the end, when it was all over, and a French fan was crying over the loss of his national team, a Portugese child approached him and comforted him. That very moving moment is perhaps the only one in the entire Euro 2016 championship that showed that Europe isn’t such a bad idea after all.

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