|riot, the unbeatable high|
[side note :: the people responsible for the violence are a class of fans known as "ultras". they're more akin to hardcore nationalists than sports fans, although they support local teams as well as national ones. they revel in the adrenaline and violence of a sporting event in ways that most people find frightening, often hiding their identities in anticipation of being involved in illegal activities. you can read what they say about themselves here. if france was caught off-guard by the presence of ultras at the euro, they have no one to blame but themselves. russian authorities apparently passed on the names of known troublemakers among their fans and german border police turned back a group of balaclava-wearing travelers, warning their french neighbours that others who were smart enough to take their fucking masks off before reaching the border could have slipped through. watch a chilling but fascinating documentary on the mix of sport and politics that make up ultra culture in serbia right here.]
|irish and swedish fans sang abba and partied together|
all that looks bad for the fans, but it looks terrible for france and uefa, especially in marseille, where police seemed surprised to find out there was a major international tournament going on. the fact that authorities seem to have been reactive rather than proactive has meant that fans have more or less been operating on the honour system. some fans, notably sweden, ireland and wales [who received a twitter high five from the tourist bureau in bordeaux], have shown themselves to be very capable at adulting, even while enjoying sport. others have ended up with a face full of tear gas. it's all rather unseamly, especially since the tournament itself has been a lot of fun when people weren't getting burned and bludgeoned.
none of the teams have been embarrassingly bad, something that was a concern because more teams were included this year. there have been a shocking number of goals scored within the last ten minutes of games, which makes for excitement. there have been upsets [i'm looking at you, hungary]. the most lopsided matches were 3-0 wins for spain and belgium. everything else has been pretty tight. [3-0 might sound like a substantial victory for this sport, until you consider that, in the copa america that is taking place right now in the u.s., chile defeated tournament favourites mexico 7-0 last night. that, friends, is a shellacking.]
|suck it, england. people like having us around.|
we are both feeling smug about the fact that portugal have fulfilled our expectations as the most overhyped quantity of the tournament. anticristiano ronaldo missing a penalty shot is already one of my highlights of the summer. my secondary prediction that belgium would fail to find their rhythm is a split result, with them getting humbled by lowly hungary and their trackpant-wearing keeper, then spinning things around for one of the tournament's most dominant displays. i swear that there are body doubles of the entire team and they're alternating which ones get on the pitch. [which raises the question of what french authorities are doing to protect everyone from a possible invasion of pod people disguised as the belgian national team.]
most journalists seemed to have italy pegged as the most likely to disappoint this year and while i will say that i probably underestimated them a little, my predictions for them have been less wrong than those of the professionals. behold, i am better at this than people who know what they're talking about. my choice for tournament "dark horse", poland, do look set to advance, despite the rather tepid game against germany. count on them grinding out results rather than dazzling.
and, in honour of some of the surprising results thus far [still looking at you, hungary, but you can throw in albania, iceland and northern ireland as well], i figured i should share some of the surprised morsels of mancandy i've spotted after carefully reviewing each team's offering.
adil rami :: france
granit xhaka :: switzerland
emre can :: germany
aaron ramsey :: wales
tl;dr: here's what i'd like to see happen going forward at the euro
less violence from fans of all nationalities
continue with late goals
continue with surprises from underdogs
more ripping of shirts and feel free to start on pants
gorau chwarae cyd chwarae