Thursday, November 19, 2009

France qualify for World Cup finals - but where's the passion?

So, it's the morning after the night before. 

Thierry Henry is now the most hated man in Ireland after knocking Maradonna's hand of god from the top of the "outrageous cheating in sport" charts.

It's a shame for Robbie Keane and his men, as well as the hordes of Irish supporters who would have brought colour, song, good humour and huge emotion to the finals.

Personally, I'm delighted that my friends and neighbours will now at least be watching the world cup next June but I can't see there being any real buzz, street parties or bunting unless France reach the final.

In 2006 we went to some of the matches in Germany yet based ourselves in North East France (Strasbourg).  Whilst in France there was little attention paid to the football but as soon as we crossed the border you could see & feel the passion immediately.

Every town or village we drove through seemed to have giant screens erected with flags lining the streets and bars promoting football evenings. 

This passion for football is something I miss about the UK - but I guess there's a fine line between national pride and jingoism/racism. It's easy to slip from singing positive songs that encourage your team to vile chants about the other teams supporters or players. 

I love the old fashioned respect, politeness & tranquility here in France so shouldn't really complain that their football chants aren't loud enough.

It is possible though - Irish & Scottish football fans have a great reputation at World Cups and prove that you can have a good time and make friends while still roaring on your team. 

So I'll be taking a leaf out of their book next June & July. 

The streets of St Meme les Carrieres will be alive with the sound of "three lions" and the fluttering of a huge flag of St George. 

It's just a shame that the drapeau tricolore is unlikely to be flying next door.

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