It isn’t been easy to avoid the World Cup, impossible if one takes the newspapers. Nor has the competition been entirely without interest: for example, how and why does a man like Luis Suarez become a serial biter of his opponents? Why does he not learn to keep his teeth to himself? I suppose the fact that he earns enough in a month to last a lifetime does not encourage quick learning, even if suspension for a few matches means a loss to him of several millions.
I found two revealing little articles about the World Cup in a French newspaper yesterday. The first concerned the evident support of the Brazilian crowd for Nigeria during the match of France against Nigeria. The author asked, in a somewhat injured tone, why this was so, especially as the French press and television had been so consistently pro-Brazilian.
The answer was that the Brazilians were not anti-French, but anti-European: this was not a racial matter but a cultural one. The Latin Americans were tired of being condescended to cullturally by the colonising countries, and so preferred non-European team to beat any European one. A Brazilian student studying for a doctorate in history was quoted thus:
Football is so European a game, and you [the Europeans]
have exploited that continent [Africa] so badly for so many
centuries, that an African victory in the World Cup would
be a good slap in your face.
The article omitted to mention the race of the doctoral student, but evidently she felt that her hatred was virtuous, perhaps all the more so if she were herself European descent, for it was hatred on the side of the downtrodden, and there is no greater virtue possible than that.
So much for sport, then, as a means of increasing international friendship, etc. It is, rather, salt in ancient wounds, but no doubt it is an inescapable phenomenon of the modern world.
The other item was even more revealing. When Germany beat Portugal by 4 – 0, the usage of a pornographic internet site in Germany declined by 60 per cent during the match, and did not recover its normal level for several hours afterwards. In Portugal, the use of the site (called YouPorn, no doubt a subsidiary of YouGov) declined by 40 per cent during the match but increased by 10 per cent over its usual level for several hours after the match.
Does this mean that football is the continuation of pornography by other means, or that pornography is the continuation of football by other means?