Anonymous Football Fan, far from Home

Football EventsI remember the bar, nearly empty. Two locals watching the finals as if they were just looking at rain, a dull, sleepy waiter and a boy, wrapped in a flag with the colors of his team, sitting alone at a table, holding on for dear life to his beer bottle. My wife and I were perched on the bar. Outside, a harsh winter that did not match the mayhem that could be seen on TV, the frantic crowd waving flags, scarves and jerseys.

It had been a very strange week. That morning, I had breakfast peering down at the cover of The Gazette that depicted the chaos that had unleashed upon my hometown. The locals asked me time and again about my family, about whether they were safe. Cabbies, upon hearing where I was from, wanted to know if I was sitting on any privileged information. They wonder how things could have gotten so ugly in such a rich region. Luckily, I was not there to witness the disaster first hand.

I never thought that football could be so sad. Ever since I was a child and for as long as I can remember, one of the most wanted miracles in life has been that our team become champion during my dad’s lifetime (I relied on his longevity way more than on the team itself) and that we be able to watch it together, just as we did our team’s relegation to second division and its subsequent promotion, only a year later. To see our team become champion, sitting at home or at the stadium and then take to the streets to celebrate and join the clamor; that’s what I wanted.

10 thousand kilometers separated me from where the match was taking place. So far away, yet so close to the long expected miracle.