Terrorism or the really serious threat from it is no match to the fighting spirit of football fans around the world, from the Copa Cup being contested in the United States to Euro 2016 being disputed in France.
This is evident, in particular, from the tens of thousands who have been shouting themselves hoarse in cheering for their respective national teams in this year’s European Championships that takes place over June and July in major venues from Marseille to Nice to Saint Denis to Paris, where the eventual top podium finisher would be crowned next month.
These lovers of the sport, from where I sit watching games brought live to Filipino fans by ABS-CBN’s Channel 23 (Salamat po!), seem oblivious of the specter of some lunatic spraying them with bullets for no reason at all or some suicide bomber blasting himself to high heavens (Does he have a place there?), in what is regarded as the continent’s premier tournament for European national teams.
France had had bad days in the last three years or so that were caused by Charlie Hebdo and an attempt in the early part of 2016 by terrorists to blow up a stadium where a football game was being held and where many were killed.
C’est la vie, as the French would say, partly because all the world’s terrorists would have been gone in the near future but the beautiful game would still be around to unite nations, if not the world (think about the World Cup), in a highly competitive setting akin to a battle zone but where the booty is a simple trophy, not prisoners of war or priceless paintings by the masters.
The entertainment part of any football game, whether in some barangay (village) in Iloilo or some favela in Brazil, of course, comes with the territory–an aimless penalty kick, a midfielder mooning the crowd, a goalkeeper literally losing his pants.
But the best part is still the match itself.
In the first few days of Euro 2016 since Sunday were produced some great games.
To mention two, one was the clash between Germany and Ukraine, with the Germans winning 2-0 in Lille.
The victors, the reigning World Cup champions, were described as “ruthless” although, in this corner’s opinion, the Ukranians were overmatched and less methodical than their opponents.
The other encounter between Italy and Belgium was a thriller, with the Italians relentless and the other side equally so.
In the end, the Italians won, 2-0, the first goal scored in regulation play and the second in added time (3 minutes), against a Belgian eleven that is actually No. 1 in the latest FIFA rankings.
Ironically, a country where many suicide bombers come from has basked in the glory brought to it by its football team.
A few years ago, Iraq bagged the Asian Cup, the continent’s top tournament.
In Rio in August, it will be one of the contenders for the 2016 Olympic football title.
North Korea, not “famous” for human bombs, however, took immense pride in its team twice qualifying for the World Cup proper.
Okay, guys, give your foolish and deadly ways a rest, play football and you’ll be better remembered when you pass on.