The happiness of Argentina’s victory against Croatia made you speak in verse! With the affection of thirty years of friendship, I dare to tell you not to worry, because it heals.
It will not be necessary for Argentina to lose to France for you to recover, like Molière’s bourgeois gentleman, the surprise of speaking in prose. I guess from today you bite your nails for what will happen on Sunday. And it is that the World Cup offers happiness in slices: you surpass a rival and you already think about the next one. It is no coincidence that football has generated the great guru of hope in installments: Diego Simeone, who conceives destiny game by game.
in his book Birthday, your countryman César Aira says that his natural state is euphoria. There are two reasons to be happy that way: being born with chronic happiness or not watching football games.
The only moment that authorizes lasting happiness is the conquest of the World Cup. You are about to get there, you almost made it, but the main thing is still missing. I guess it’s a joy with chills.
I say little about your semifinal. The Italian referee awarded a rigorous penalty that opened the game for Argentina. Beyond that, yours dominated the match with sovereignty and Messi had a pass in his pocket that he gave to Julián Álvarez wrapped as a gift. Hype!
The emotions of Morocco-France looked more complex, a struggle to a certain extent fratricidal between migrants and assimilated to Europe. The genetics of the encounter were mostly African. In Parisian terms, it was the dispute of the banlieu against the center of the city. With a sense of diplomacy, the Moroccan coach, Walid Regragui, said in the pre-game conference that those with dual nationality could enjoy the victory of either team.
The jubilation had extra-soccer reasons to happen. The sympathizers of the Arab world, Africa and the dispossessed of the Earth bet on the unusual lions of Regragui. Moving stories were told of the mothers who visited them in the concentration and of the various migrations that had returned to the origin in the dressing room. Against the defending champion, Morocco did not cease to be a notable team, which overwhelmed the rival without discovering the aim.
Before continuing with that game I pause to mention a second-class happiness. I have much more discreet reasons for celebration than yours: I feel compelled to mention the Mexican referee, César Arturo Ramos, from France-Morocco.
My country is better for sports jurisprudence than for scoring goals. It cannot be said that Ramos blew his whistle with art, but it was not disastrous, a performance far superior to that of our team. It’s sad to be happy for a middling referee, but it’s what the fateful fate delivers to us Mexicans.
In another letter I said that France played with champion packaging. Against Morocco, he did it as if he were content to collect the income from a wonderful retirement. His power was there, but he did not deem it necessary to exercise it. From minute 5, Theo Hernández’s flying kick goal decided the tone of the game. France became a European customs office that slowly checked migrants. Morocco charged with the repeated illusion that Scheherazade was avoiding death, but without the magic to rub the genie’s lamp.
The dynamics were accentuated in the second half. France withdrew its ranks even more, leaving Mbappé and Dembelé as lonely members of the foreign legion. Griezmann once again stood out as an all-terrain crack; he recovered decisive balls in his own area, filtered passes in the enemy area and all the fixed tactic plays were in charge of him.
Instead, Mbappé faded like in the previous game. The ultimate heroes of French soccer have been able to enhance his stature at key moments: Michel Platini at Euro 1984, Zinedine Zidane at the 1998 World Cup. Mbappé has equivalent potential, but in the last two games he has been a genius of low intensity.
To avoid the hassle of having excuses to be happy, the Mexican public becomes their own show. We didn’t make it past the group stage, but Mexican flags wave in the streets of Doha and mariachi trumpets can be heard. Traffic in the city is only interrupted when one of the three hundred members of the royal family is passing by or when the police are confused by a Mexican carrying a horn announcing: “tamales, Oaxaqueños, calientitos…”
Everyone, dear Martin, is happy in their own way.
subscribe here to our special newsletter about the World Cup in Qatar
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits