T HIS is a season of frustration, anguish and heart-brokenness everywhere around and about us. On this score we cherish the thought that man everywhere experiences the same sensations. Those in particular who are faithful to the theoretical notion and idea that our huge, expansive world of diverse peoples is nothing but a singular globalized village or collection of diverse persons and places in a united mosaic, will salivate the saliva of ecstasy in their salivary glands. To them, indeed, persons everywhere are spectacularly the same despite several thoughts in several quarters that may dispute it – rightly or wrongly.
I don’t wish to enter here any debate on this even though I am aware – as you are aware – that our world is a singular collection of human beings of different cultural, political, spiritual, geographical, scientific, technological, educational, medical and literary advancement, development or un-development. But that man, wherever he is, knows what pain is, what disappointment is, what agony is, what heart-ache is, is indisputably correct. This or that experience that runs through us every day corroborates this.
Let us transport ourselves to Europe and North/Latin America where sports fans, specifically football fans, and participants have excited our compassion by entreaties, prayers and tears. Let us cite in particular the examples of England, Spain and Argentina, three mighty football countries that have just witnessed immeasurable football surprise and grief.
In the on-going European Cup of Nations Football Competition holding in France, England and Spain met surprise exits. England of the “Three Lions” had what soccer pundits called soft opponents to devour: Wales, Iceland and some other “inconsequential” teams. At the end of the day, and when it mattered most, England of the universally famed premier league and of the one and only national team called “Three Lions” became the mincemeat of Iceland. Earlier, the “Three Lions” were taught a fabulous lesson of the game by Gareth Bale and his fellow Argonauts from Wales. But England survived courtesy of sheer mother-luck. But when they eventually met the tiny minions from Iceland at the pre-quarters round of sixteen they were truly made mincemeat of. No mother-luck to the rescue this time. What a sorry sight for Wayne Rooney and company! I could see the tears, frustration, and anguish in the insides of the England skipper and of his fellow “Three Lions” who were absolutely heart-broken. Their manager, Mr. Hodgson, who has honourably resigned, immediately after England failed, was a pitiable bundle of a truly heart-broken English man. The premature exit of his fangless lions was no less anguishing than Britain’s exit from the European Union.
And the miniatory Spain, what can we say about their sad defeat and knock-out from the competition? How miniatoryless were Sergio Ramos, Iniesta, David De Gea, Cesc Fabrigas and other menacing Spaniards of yore! Of course, Italy their conquerors, are a hugely mighty force in European and world football. But with their football pedigree and current form as defending champions of the European competition, La Roja of Spain were mathematically expected to defeat Italy and go on to capture the European cup for an unprecedented three times in a row. But expectations are no horses as the Spaniards, without the luckily amazing Fernando Torres, painfully learnt after ninety minutes plus additional time of merry football by the merry-making attackers from Italy who did away with their widely known defence tactic called “catenaccio.” This time, against Spain, the Azzurris, ably led by the ageless goal-keeper Buffon made a hard defensive wall as well as a merry-go-round attacking forward-line that ended Spain’s supremacy in Europe. And the Spanish players and fans cried openly and in their heart. They could not reenact the spectacle of the 2012 final they won when they walloped the Azzurris by four goals to nothing. La Roja and their teeming fans this time bled and bled with anguish and broken hearts.
Perhaps the defeat of Argentina at the final of the recently ended centenary of the Copa America in New Jersey, USA elicited the most passionate stream of frustration, anguish and grief from soccer lovers within and outside Argentina. In four different finals of soccer competitions including the 2014 world cup final in Brazil, Argentina that paraded Messy and other master-class players were turned into a train and flock of eunuchs. In anguish Messy gave himself an exit visa from the national team he captained for several years. Clearly, the terribly heart-broken super-maestro has diminished his own greatness even if he decides to cancel his exit visa tomorrow or any other day and time. Any thought of attempting a comparison between him and Maradona or with the greatest player ever, the one and only King Pele of Brazil, must now be seen as a puerile exercise. Such a thought must forever remain in a waste-basket.
The lesson: we all know frustration, anguish and heart-brokenness at the appointed time. How we respond and how we carry on thereafter with our duties will make all the difference.
The European football competition is still on. More surprises will come; more frustrations will come; more heart-aches will come. We wait for how the losers will take their losses, and hope to turn them into victories in future. Will France rise to the occasion as host? Or will they follow England and Spain to gnash their teeth? And will any of their leading players do a messy exit as Argentina’s Leo the Mess-exit?
Post Script: This column shall go on break soon for a short while.