If you want to watch grown men cry, pound the table, and generally lose total self control, you need only watch England’s soccer team go into action in the company of expats. Earlier this week, England drew against France in the 2012 Euro Cup. English fans do not, as a general rule, lose gracefully, and we were happily spared that spectacle, although the England fans here in Lusaka were less than thrilled at the outcome.
I think we all know at least one individual who, at an unsuitably advanced age, persists in believing in the Tooth Fairy. At every televised athletic event, you will find their counterpart, the (generally slightly inebriated) man who, no matter what his parents, his friends, his spouse, his counsellor, have told him over the years, remains convinced that the referee, the England coach, the players, the fans, and in this case, the entire French nation, can hear him.
“Well spotted!” ours bellowed sarcastically, with an impressive glottal stop, when the referee at last deigned to call a foul in England’s favour. “Yoooouuu twat!” was a more characteristic rejoinder to the fates which decline to favour the England side. At one point when things seemed particularly dire (or perhaps when the referee declined to award an arbitrary goal to England), the bellower took to pounding his head against a wall.
Having no horse in the race, I’m just hoping the tournament offers some decent matches. The Netherlands will play Germany in a half-hour’s time, and although that’s getting close to my bedtime, I’ll do my best to soldier through the first half of the match. Things will be different, of course, in two years’ time when the U.S. team competes in the World Cup, now guided by our knock-off German coach...