Even when you leave your country, you’re never really gone. Want proof? Watch soccer.
Yesterday France played Ireland in the Round of 16 in the Euro Cup. Sound exciting? Well, if you’re into soccer or belong to one of these countries, yes, it’s thrilling. However, if you’re an American who has never played soccer, getting woken up at 7:45 on a Sunday morning to ensure that we were bright eyed and bushy-tailed with coffee in hand for kickoff is not an ideal start to the day.
Regardless of my opinions on the earliness of the hour, come sunrise I was coaxed out of bed and into the living room to enjoy some quality French culture as seen on a soccer pitch.
About 5 minutes in I knew I was going to have to fold laundry to keep myself awake (yes, yawn. Clearly I was interested in the game.) So I left Le Boyfriend and the sports and went about my business.
I had not been gone 30 seconds before I began to hear epithets in multiple languages flying out of the living room, alternatively encouraging and scolding the French team for their playing.
Side note: I adore when amateur sportsmen suddenly become world-class coaches because their teams are playing. It makes me smile.
Even though Le French Boyfriend is one of the most easy-going people I have ever met, when France is playing on TV, he sounds like he could be a candidate for the French nationalist party. A suspicion I have, which he himself has confirmed.
Why Is This Game Such an Important Rivalry?!
To understand why this game was particularly important, you have to know a little bit about French soccer history. I know it’s a fascinating subject, but for your sake, I’ll spare you hours of reading and give it to you in three words: Le Hand of God.
Haven’t heard of it? Well, if you don’t want to take the time to YouTube it, here’s a quick synopsis.
Basically Le Hand of God is infamous and hotly contested foul that caused Ireland to lose to France in a World Cup qualifying match seven years ago, and the fury over this call has festered since.
Couple this perceived injustice with an Irishman’s legendary ability to hold a grudge and you know that this is probably a sore spot for the nation’s pride. So when you add a nation’s pride and factor in the amount of time they have had to stew over this error, you have a recipe for a fierce match.
But the ferocity was unparalleled.
I sat there baffled as Le Boyfriend transformed into the most French version of himself and my Facebook and Twitter became inundated with Irish friends making slighting comments about the French. (Mind you, on your average Sunday all these people would happily eat BBQ together!)
I was astounded by the change in everyone’s attitude. However, what surprised me most was even after the match ended, these soccer lovers were slow to return mentally to America. I mean, even their accents changed; they really got into it. Just by watching a match, everyone was transported back to their home countries. No tickets, no vacation time, no hassle.
And they say teleportation isn’t possible.