As you may or may not know, there was just a month long soccer tournament hosted by Russia called the World Cup, in which the 32 best national soccer teams compete every four years for the world championship. This tournament is a huge deal over here. Geneva is an international city, so there are die-hard fans for virtually all of the European teams, and many of the South American teams. People support their teams by hanging flags from there apartment windows, sporting those little car window flags, and by wearing their teams jerseys. I’m a sports fan, I enjoy the game of soccer, and even though I had no particular rooting interest (the US team failed to qualify for the tournament) I tuned into several games and along with everyone else, got a little caught up in the whole deal.
Before I go any further, I have something I need to get off my chest regarding the state of soccer. The point is to score more goals than the opponent. This is accomplished through two strategies. The first is to play better soccer, make good passes, feed your goal scorers, and create scoring opportunities. The other strategy – which is employed throughout the entire game – is to deceive the referee into thinking that the other team committed a penalty. So every game involves players constantly sprawling to the ground at the slightest contact and rolling around in fake agonizing pain in order to get a free kick and/or to get an opposing player tossed out of the game. That bugs me. End of rant.
Last weekend was the final game, the championship featuring the favored French squad against the upstart and underdog Croatia. My friend Rodger called me and suggested we drive the 45 minutes over to Annecy, France to watch the game! I was all in! Here’s a picture of Rodger and me in Annecy at halftime.
Halftime on the main street in the Old City.
I knew of a really cool bar in town, called Beer O’clock… as in “What time is it? It’s Beer O’clock!” We stepped inside and made our way to the bar, and found a spot to stand and watch the game, have a drink or two, and make friends with the French fans.
France took a quick 1-0 lead and then forfeited the tying goal just a few minutes later. As I was planning this blog post, I was thinking to myself, “wouldn’t it be great if I could record a reaction to a French goal in a French bar??” But goals are hard to see coming, with one notable exception: the penalty kick. If a defensive team commits a penalty or “hand ball” in their own penalty area, the offensive team gets a free penalty shot from 12 meters away that only the goalie can defend. It is not hyperbolic to suggest that throughout the entire history of soccer, hardly anyone has ever missed a penalty kick. So, as fate would have it, Croatia committed a hand ball inside their penalty area, setting up a penalty kick and sure goal for the French squad. That’s when I fired up my phone and shot the following video. Be patient, the shot comes about a minute in.
Near the end of the game, with France protecting it’s 4-2 lead, we headed back through town toward the car. I shot this video of the raucous crowd celebrating the French World Cup championship! (My apologies for inadvertently videoing one dude with no shirt, rendering this video a bit risqué.)