I have not written in a while. It's Ramadan. I am fasting. I have had to prioritise my energy spendings. Yet I wanted to say a few things about the World Cup. Now that it is over. In bullet points, if you please:
- The World Cup is great. Whatever those who don't like it say. Everyone else watches it, even if most of us never watch football the rest of the time. It should not be called suggestibility. It should be called knowing how to grab an opportunity to share a common experience with other human beings once every four years. A bit like Ramadan or Christmas, really.
- And all these people do become experts in football. They do. The rules are easy enough. Personally, after 30 years of existence, I do say things like: “If we end up in penalty shoot-outs during this final, it will be like in 1994 when Brazil won against Italy because one of the Baggios screwed up.” Gob-smacked boyfriend. Try me.
- The Brazilian team was pretty shit this year. For the first time in my life they disappointed me big time. I even supported them against France in 1998. A myth definitely died. Sorry Brazil. I love you, but it's true.
- The 1998 Ronaldo has become shockingly fat. I caught a glance of him during the Germany-Brazil semi-final massacre. Still unsure what shocked me more.
- Germans do not know when to stop. They shoot as long as they can, with no sense for the non-necessity of humiliation. Apparently, there is only one game when the score was worse than this Brazil-Germany debacle encounter. It was Saudi Arabia against... Germany. Maybe the Brazilian team should teach the Champions how to score 3 goals, waste time for the rest of the game and not make the rest of Europe resent you even more. Just a thought.
- The German team won because they deserved it, but the Germans don't. They can't party properly. Serious. I was in a bar in Berlin when they won. Let's say that in comparison with Parisian streets when Algeria won against Korea. Was like comparing an exam with a wedding.
- The Algerian team was surprisingly good. The first Arab team to qualify for the Round of 16. I had heard commentators on German TVs and radios before that game. “It will be a piece of cake” had they said. I was boiling. It was not. They shivered. I smiled. Inside. Yet the Algerian players failed to score, despite the many opportunities they created for themselves. Goal panic syndrome. I wondered if it may have been an internalisation – of – Eurocentrism – and – post-colonial - self-devaluation syndrome. Then the French screwed up even more and I thought, “Maybe the Germans are just good”.
- I hate nationalism. It is a stupid and ugly feeling. And if I had to give a bad point to the World Cup, it would be for allowing this ugliness to come out in the open. I hate painted flags on people's faces, stupid hats and dressing up. I do. Although I think there is a distinction between the nationalism of citizens from an already powerful countries, and that of small countries which have no weight globally anyway. Go Cameroon!
- Which brings me to my last subject. I was in France during the games of Algeria against Korea and Russia. I was shocked to see that in neighbourhoods of important Algerian community, there were almost no open places to watch the games. This was already made hard by the fact that the only mainstream TV Channel broadcasting the World Cup games – TF1 - had not bothered buying broadcasting rights for games played by the Algerian team – despite the importance of the Algerian community in France and the fact that 16 out of the 22 Algerian players are also French citizens. So watching those games was hard, real hard. Definitely harder than in Germany, where I had enjoyed Algeria-Belgium on a big screen in a Beergarten.
- Walking around Barbès, our very own Whitechapel, and not finding a single open cafe or bar to watch the bloody thing, I wondered if the closing down of all such businesses in these neighbourhoods had anything to do with administrative measures or friendly police warnings. I knew that a crazy extreme right-wing movement had asked the Ministry of Interior to ban Algerian flags and people in the streets during certain games of the World Cup. Like during the independence war. Well, apparently, the whole country's gone mad, as in Roubaix the maire did in fact impose a curfew during the Algerian team games, thus preventing any celebrations or movement. And in Nice the Algerian flag was prohibited. Beautiful, really.
- So as much as I hate nationalism and had puffed and huffed at the sight of fellow Algerians posting red-white-green pictures on Facebook before the World Cup, less than 12 hours in France made me look for an Algerian flag the size of a swimming pool to pin on my building walls. It suddenly felt as if the sheer existence of Algerians was still blatantly unacceptable for a certain category of people in France. Hence the extremely lavish celebration of themselves by the Algerian community. Also, dancing at darbouka rhythms in the middle of the night in Montmartre is fun. It just is.
- This all makes the solving of social problems encountered by the working class of immigrant background in France very hard. The issues are blurred and people are confused. And as if this was not enough, we sprinkled it all with a bit of Islam and Burka debate. Yummy. Yet I believe the first one to identify that class of French population by its religion - way before they all decided to transform into bad replicas of 14th century Arab tribe men like in Egyptian soap operas - was our beloved former President. You know, the short nervous guy who got arrested not long ago. Please don't make me say his name. Really, I have had enough. The new one may be a tad insignificant, but to be honest, it's a nice change.
That is it for today. I hope you enjoyed. I am going back to fasting. It is a full time activity. Now, for those of you who may be wondering why, despite the suffering, I still love Ramadan and fast every year, I will explain, promise. Once it is over, of course. For now, I need to keep my energy for more essential things, like breathing.