Thursday, 16 June 2016

PoL-Di — and the paradox of a possible Brexit

Avoiding EURO 2016: A self-experiment — Day Seven

An English friend told me that the England’s last group match — to be played three days before the UK referendum on whether or not to be part of the European community we are building together for some sixty years now — can actually influence that group of still-doubting voters who might very well be decisive to the outcome.

Is that really what the World has come to? Is football, or rather following football, the modern-day battle between tribes?

If so, it is actually a paradox of big dimensions. If one looks to the ethnicity of players on the different teams, especially but not only the former colonial powers, the plethora of diversity is evident.

One famous example is Lukas Podolski. Born in Gliwice in Southern Poland, his family moved to a suburb of Cologne when he was very little. Already as a teenager, he became the star of my team 1. FC Köln where he remains a cult figure. In fact, the only club where Prinz Poldi has had real success is here.

Given Germany and Poland’s long intermingled history, there is even a book about Polish players who carried the black eagle rather than their own white one. Apparently, tonight the two countries play each other. Should Poldi score …although it seems unlikely he will even play; some claim he is only part of the Germany’s squad of 23 because of his persistent good mood and positive influence on his team mates… he will not celebrate, out of respect for his country of birth.

Podolski made the same gesture, of not celebrating that is, when he played for Bayern München against 1. FC Köln years ago. I was there, in the stadium. Before the match, during the warm-up, the kölsche supporters celebrated their lost star. And they celebrated his goal despite that it consolidated the 0:3 defeat against the spoiled Bavarian millionaires. As the German media reported: Das gibt’s nur in Köln!

Incidentally this happened to be the only time my Polish better half has joined me for a live football match, to see what on Earth made me spend entire Saturdays on driving a couple hundred kilometres and back to see 22 men chase some ball for 90 minutes.

Beats me.

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