Thursday, 19 June 2014

The World Cup: Is it just about the football?

Spain is losing to Chile by two goals. If they don't win the game, they're out of the World Cup. I'm lying on the floor watching the television screen at an uncomfortable angle. I don't want to watch but part of me thinks I might influence the result if I do.

"It's just football," my rational self tells me.

But it doesn't feel like it.

My parents are watching it with me. My Dad is tense. He was expecting a draw at the worst. It's his fault I'm a Spain fanatic. Every year since the beginning of time, before a World Cup or a European cup, he has always said, "This year they have the dream team," to which I've always replied, "you say that every year and every year they get knocked out." At least that was the reality until 2008.

Ten minutes left to go. Spain still needs to score 3 goals. I feel like I should be crying. I try to muster some tears.

Is this even about football?

Supporting Spain makes me feel connected to the country that my brother and I idealised when we were little. Being a halfling (Spanish father, Welsh mother), means I'll never really be Spanish. I'll never be completely British either. In philosophical moments, I tell myself that all that matters is that I'm a human being and that nationality only serves to separate people when really we are all the same at heart.

Nostalgia then, is that what I'm clinging onto in the dying moments of this game?

Every August we used to leave London and go to heaven. 'Heaven' being a small village in the Catalan Pyrenees. 'Spain' came to mean mountains, rivers, lizards, sunshine, sea... Spain symbolised escape, freedom. When I'm on the tube at rush hour I close my eyes and imagine I'm back in those mountains beside the lake, my toes dipped in the cool water. I want that time back but it has slipped through my fingers. Or has it? Spain hasn't gone anywhere. I really must stop trying to own it.  

The whistle has blown. Spain is out of the World Cup.

A lot of people will be happy. No one likes teams who win all the time. 

Spain is out!
Time to support my husband's team - Vamos Colombia!
At least they've won before. In fact they've been winning for six years. Shouldn't I be thankful for that?

I start to perk up.

How can I be sad? It was thanks to La Roja that I met my husband. We met in a bar moments after the final whistle of the Euro Cup Final 2008 (Spain vs Germany).

If Spain hadn't won, I would have gone straight home. But I didn't. I stayed to celebrate and that's how I met him.

No need for tears after all. Chile deserved the win. Good luck to them! 


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Mike said...

You know you're a proper fan of a team only when they lose something big like this -- the sense of desolation and emptiness.

I hope I'm not feeling like that at 10pm tonight.

Emily Benet said...

Good luck Mike! There's something ridiculously compelling about all the joy and pain of football!