Friday, June 29, 2012

Football Frenzy

I am not a football junkie (thts. the rite word right?). Not even a follower, not by a fair margin. But during the WC and the Euro championships, I wonder why not. Especially when the game progresses to the last-8 stages or when Germany is playing. It is a strange phenomenon really. I may not even register a high profile club clash on a giant screen in a hotel lobby, but I am all glued at the sight of Klose or Ozil or sometime Ballack making their deft and efficient moves. Or even a intense encounter (towards the later stages) like the one from yesterday between the neighbours Spain and Portugal. I have started to understand why that is lately. A game like cricket which I adore like nothing else is very technical in detail and is highly cognitive. There are countless facets and nuances and not-so-nuances to hold your attention or even consume your mind. Football (whts. soccer btw, another glamor quotient in the game of adrenalin?) on the other hand, is played with emotion and passion. Not that there is no technicality around soccer or for tht matter Cricketers are robots plying their calculations on the pitch. But those in my humble and simple opinion are the defining characteristics of the two games. So now consider this game of soccer being played today between Italy and Geramny. I am no football historian but definitely know the ageless names of soccer superstars. Also, the epic clashes maybe - alleast the ones I have watched. So if you scroll the internet, half a dozen encounters from yesteryears would prop up between the two giants. I myself remember the sour taste towards the last minutes of the 2006 clash when I had fallesn in love for the German national football team, not the least coz they hosted the tournament with such elan or the much awesome Michael Ballack (whts. with these Michales from Hussey, Schumacher to the fictional Schofield). Not just that. A typical search might also land you on a history page detailing the ties between any two such countries - diplomatic ties or maybe their war history. The group stage clash between the co-host Poland and Russia was dubbed as a mini-war in the media reminiscent of the war fought between the two at the banks of the Vistula river in Poland in I think the first world war. Italy and Germany themselves share the common Fascist might I say history with their two controvercial leaders Hitler and Mussolini at one time acting as comrades in an imperialist cause. And the Europeans have fought for more than two centuries now (up untill the last world war that is) right from the days of the Roman empire, the Greek city states to the Frank tribes (modern day French), the Germanic tribes (Germany and others), the Slavs(Russia, Poland?), Vikingsthe Scandinavia?), Goths, Vandals et al. Cannot football then be looked as an avenue to channelise that same vigor away from the battlefield to a more civilized expression of nationalism though I really doubt if it was that in those wars) or jingoism rather. Wishful thinking that. In any case, the history is there and who would better understand it than the Europeans who now are a truly cosmopolitan crowd with diluted ethnicities. The drama and intensity start right from the start with the teams and fans singing their respective national anthems. All through the game, there is a chorus in the background. There are high fives, yellow cards, red cards, players sliding/heaping/somersaulting, heightened emotion, coaches with tempers and what not.....its a surreal feeling really. But then you wonder how could this feeling sustain if it was a club encounter!!