03:16:41 pmCategories: Places


What a drama, and what a deception! People were so eager for a party and it seemed to be so much at stake…

Yesterday afternoon while the preparations for the match was going out outside, I sat at home, absorbed in the excess of newspaper articles reporting and commenting on the political fallouts of the merits of the French national team. Will France be more tolerant and less discriminatory and racist due to its multicoloured team? Will its success lead to optimism and economic growth? I’d guess neither of the two, but the last couple of days have convinced me that there is much more than football at stake. Perhaps it is right that the French national team is the team of the real, but yet unrecognised, France? Here, in East Paris where I live, if you see someone in the national football shirt you should not be surprised if he (or she) has a skin colour in shades darker than white. And who have been fiercest celebrators of the victories so far if not the kids from the infamous banlieues?

A couple of hours before the match, when I finally tore myself away from the media and got down on the street into the real world, I was met by three children singing and waving Le tricolore just outside my door. Le tricolore was waving from the local greengrocer’s and bistro too, as well as from numerous cafés, shops and flats along the boulevard. Flags were waving from cars and scooters, and the drivers were hooting at every possible and impossible opportunity. Amongst the tricolores, there were a couple of Algerian flags as well, apparently with at least one of the passengers wearing the French national jersey (which reminded me about a newspaper report I had just read from a bar in Marseille: after Zidane scored against Portugal someone had shouted “the ones who doesn’t jump now is not Kabyle” (Zidane’s parents were immigrants from Kabylia)…). From the fourth floor, a three year old (Chinese) was shouting Allez les Bleus! and a smiling father in a car was teaching his toddler the same chant.

All along the boulevard through eastern Paris the preparation for the match was well on its way. Two elderly ladies in a bistro at Place de Ménilmontant had – like so many others – drawn the flag on their cheeks. Some large blacks all in blue football shirts and with rastas, drunk on prematurely shared bottles of champagne, had painted their faces with red, white and blue stripes. A drunkard had put on an old blue jersey for tonight’s reunion with his drinking mates by Gare de Nord. The trip up the boulevard made me think that this was surely a team for everybody, even the most excluded, and I was probably smiling all the way.

We saw the match in a Kabylian bistro up north in the 18th arrondissement, behind Sacré Coeur. The atmosphere was tense. The manager, dressed in Thuram’s shirt, was among the anxious who went in and out, and who ended up seeing the penalty shootout from outside through the windows of the bar. The trickery and theatrics of the Italians didn’t go well with the French supporters: one called them “casseurs”, and another commented on how they where the ones who committed faults as well as falling afterwards and receiving the free kick. And today, the day after, quite a few here in France, as probably elsewhere in the world, ask themselves what Materazzi could have said that made Zidane entirely loose his temper and turn to such an unacceptably act as a headbutt to conclude his career. And in the media today, Zidane’s inexplicable exit undoubtedly adds an extra dimension to the huge disappointment people are expressing.


Comment from: Randi [Visitor]

Nice comment on the match, Cicilie

12/07/06 @ 13:48
Comment from: [Member]

mmm… my heart aches when I see these sunny photos from Paris… (weather forecast for Oslo: sleet and slush and a few hours of gray daylight for as long as I can see…)

08/01/08 @ 18:07

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