And that is why...

I like France. No idea why but it appears that I do. They do have fantastic fans overseas and that is as good a reason as any to like them.

1998: World Cup final: France versus Brazil. Having spent the entire World Cup period living in Sydney, I am visiting a friend in Melbourne. The University of Melbourne, where my friend lives, is right by Lygon Street, the Italian section of Melbourne and possibly one of the few places where one could watch football in those days in Australia. But, we couldn't find anywhere showing the final. And, it was raining. We ended up going back to Uni, sneaking into the Faculty lounge (through a window) and joining a hardy bunch of folks who had gotten up in the middle of the night (and didn't realise we weren't faculty? I don't know. No one said anything and we had been early so had settled down by the time everyone else got there) to watch the final. Everyone was supporting Brazil. Except me. I had no reason not to support Brazil but I wanted France to win. And, they did. Zidane became a hero.

2006, Second Round of the World Cup: France versus Spain. Having spent (most) of the first round in SmallTown Virginia watching the matches at quite possibly the only pub showing it, I have been watching the second round matches (or, most of it, as yous know from my previous posts) at the Harp and Fiddle in Bethesda. The waitpeople know me now (I'm not sure this is a good thing but it's something that has happened) and I watched Brazil-Ghana there this morning. There were about 10 Brazil supporters, one guy supporting Ghana and me, in the morning. I really need write nothing more about that except Why couldn't Ghana finish their moves? They played so well in midfield and their final touch let them down. It was incredibly frustrating notwithstanding the fact (yes, it's a fact) that two of Brazil's three goals were most likely offside.

Anyway, France versus Spain 2006: After a walk around the block after the first match (in wet and miserable conditions), I came back to find the place was now packed with French supporters. About 40 people were there, including about 8 Spanish supporters. I found a table, sat and waited for the match to start. I was then joined by Robert, a Swedish musician with an Irish accent, who then proceeded to talk through most of the important parts of the match.* As for me, it's France all the way--I rather like their fans (especially those in the pub who kept on yelling and singing throughout). The best moment was when Zidane scored and someone yelled "Je t'aime, Zizou!"** In the last ten minutes, the French supporters were chanting, singing and thumping tables. For a rainy Tuesday afternoon in Washington, watching the World Cup was as good as it gets ***.

* For the record, I'd like to write that if I ever joined someone else's table during a football match, I wouldn't then start talking...and talking...and talking some more. I'd just keep quiet, watch football and then, during breaks and all, maybe (quite possibly not though since I'm not social at all and had The Concept of the Political to wade through today) talk about tactics. I would not talk about life in general and the concept of religion in Balinese society (no, I'm not joking). Really, I couldn't give a toss about either of those right then.

** No, it wasn't me. I was too busy recovering from being high fived (high-fiven? Not sure what the past tense is) by a complete stranger, who then proceeded to apologise. Have yous realised how difficult it is to refuse to high-five? It's one of those social conventions which, when someone raises their palm at you, you hit it back. Or, you sort of tap it and look incredibly furtive since you realise what an utter prat you must look (which is what I do).

*** And, I'll be back there Friday morning, PTSD readers, if anyone fancies keeping me company and thus helping me avoid chatty Swedes and high-fiving strangers. Though considering Friday's Germany-Argentina, it'll probably be a quiet crowd. Still, come one, come all!


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