Thursday, May 18, 2006

Barcelona Wins!

Spending a few days in London reminds us that football enthusiasm is a somewhat class-based activity. While the morning news programs tout the upcoming Champions League match between Arsenal of London and FC Barcelona at Stade de France in Paris, conversations with friends and business colleagues around Westminster yield vague shrugging when the topic turns to footie.

On our way to Waterloo Station yesterday, however, our driver Salim is enthusiastic, warning us that Barcelona, with its star player Ronaldinho, will win 5-nil. Now it seems like hundreds of Arsenal fans are boarding the Eurostar with us, and when we arrive at Gare du Nord, we hear boisterous Arsenal songs breaking out and see crowds of yellow-jerseyed young men buffeting about the station. Few stand in line with us for the taxis, which suggests to me that the Metro was probably a yellow blur. Our driver in Paris asks us if we're for Barcelona or Arsenal. "We're for peace," I say. "Me, too," he says. "Especially in my taxi."

That evening, as we stroll down Rue St. Andre des Arts following a rustic supper on Ile St-Louis, it begins to rain a bit, but that does little to dampen the excitement of football fans who spill out onto the street, craning for a better view of the match-in-progress on bistro TV screens.

Moments later, we are back in our 7th floor room on Boulevard Raspaill, and the rain has gotten harder. My wife is fast asleep and I'm nursing my surprise attack of Paris hay fever with a couple of shots of Cuervo. I'm watching the match on TV as Barcelona gamely scores twice during the thunderstorm to take the lead 2-1, and eventually the win.

The streets of Paris are quiet this evening on the edge of the 6th and 7th Arrondissements. No celebrating football crowds gather on the Champs-Elysees, either -- that, apparently, is only reserved for when Paris beats Marseilles.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful time in Paris.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Alan K.Farrar said...

Won't mention the fact that even the boss of FIFA saw fit to comment on the referee's performance.
But re the "class" aspect of football, you might be interested in 'Victorian Sport: Playing by the Rules' on the bbc site:

where the class aspect is explored a little.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Gawain said...

Hey, dont miss the Museum Guimet. Its not far, actually.

9:39 PM  

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