Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Irate Frenchmen

Have you ever heard 30,000 angry Frenchman voicing their displeasure? Nearly burst my ear drums when Zidane was sent off. That the Italians kept their composure during the penalties with the cacophony that was going on probably earned them the cup more than anything else. Frankly, they were outplayed by the French, but they stopped them from scoring, so the cup is theirs.

Being in Berlin the day after the final had other advantages. My boys are now fully kitted out in lots of odd let overs. “Official” FIFA World Cup t-shirts where going for a song at E5, so I got a few things then. The hotel was oddly giving out free Subbuteo men at breakfast, so I snagged some of them as well.

All in all it was a grand time, though getting back to the hotel after the match was chaos incarnate. The normally anal Germans hadn’t thought to put traffic cops out front of the stadium. As a result, there was carnage as busses and taxis gridlocked themselves, and I nearly had my ribs caved in during a scrum to get in one of the shuttles. Civility doesn’t last long when its midnight and all everyone wants is to get back to the corporate trough to scarf a final meal and a few drinks before collapsing onto the hotel bed.

Some memorable moments where listening to the French supports sing “Football’s Coming Home” during the match. Try to think of 30,000 French accents garbling the words and you won’t even be close. Watching a small cluster of Italian supporters kiss each other when the final penalty shot won them the game. Given we were surrounded by more than a few French I thought murder likely. Then, of course, Zidane’s head butt in response to comments about his mother. I caught it out of the corner of my eye, but most people in the stadium didn’t. There was no doubt the crowd thought it an absurd call. I even had the offside rule explained to me by an indulgent American, which was amusing (admittedly he played Varsity soccer for Stanford (I just didn’t expect the Yank to rise to the bait)).

A good time was had.


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