Monday, 26 June 2006


Was I glad these last few days I was not in Holland. Everything there seems to be orange and everybody is crazy about football. Here in Greece everything is blue-white. And Lesvos also has some green, because of its abundant nature. Blue-white sea, when some waves curl around, blue-white sky when some clouds are floating above the green trees. In Greece they do not have to paint their country in national colours for the football. Just like the Greek flag the main colours in Greece are always blue and white. And then they are not so crazy because they are not in the World Cup, even though they are the European Champions.

Molyvos is just a little crazy. More than one café has a big screen on their terrace so that groups of people can follow the ball. Whenever Germany, England or Holland scores a goal, just like in Amsterdam you hear shouts coming from every corner. Not when Ghana, Korea or Portugal scores. There are no tourists from those countries here.

I rediscovered the radio. I am not good at following a football game. It is too boring for me. I always do other things when a game is on. Otherwise I will be bored and make stupid remarks about the football. But I like to follow the game, especially on the radio. Those reporters are crazy and do not know how quick they talk and should make sure that you understand what they see. I think it is fun hearing their excited talk.

Yesterday night I was persuaded to come to the village because many friends were gathering together in Resalto, the café of Josif just above the harbour to watch the game between Holland and Portugal. Besides Josif, some Greek customers and our German friends were all dressed in orange t-shirts. The orange army suddenly went quiet when Portugal scored the first goal.

And there you sit with a big party just under the stars. Colourful lights from the village were blinking cheerfully, while the people watched the screen, too afraid to miss anything. In the beginning there was hope, which slowly disappeared into the beautiful night.

I was lucky to have found somebody who like me did not like football that much. We whispered together and enjoyed the twittering lights of the harbour. For the first time in her life Doro had seen a shooting star. I do see them now and then, but I always forget to make a wish.

I could have told her: "When you look at the screen", where they were busy waving yellow and red cards, "you will also see stars falling. 22 and the referee. Because if that is sport at a high level, I will gladly see football disappear as a sport". But I did not say so, the faces around me were too grim.

More and more the crowd was yelling when a Portugese player took a dive on the field. There were even people starting to giggle, thinking the whole game had turned into a slapstick movie. Slowly an excited mood started to appear because everybody wanted so much for Holland to win. And because at the end Holland did try to make something out of it.

Today I read the Iliad of Homer. Put into new words by the Italian writer Alessandro Baricco. On the battlefield of Troy there were also two opposing parties assembled. All those Greek heroes were butchering each other. While reading and imagening that battle in front of me I had to think about the football game from yesterday night. Had the players been in an arena or before the gates of Troy, they would have killed each other with love.

In the early times there was no television, so stories were told. The battle of Troy was never recorded on celluloid. What images would that have given if there had been cameras. Who knows how many red and yellow cards had to be distributed. Maybe then there would not have been Greek heroes. Now we only have the oral stories. Told by people who made their own interpretation of the story. That is how the stories of the Greek Heroes were made. About Achilles, about Ajax or about Odysseus. They were not all nice ones, that is what the storytellers made of them. The football games do not have to be told. Everybody saw them. So all those dirty tricks cannot be changed anymore into the deeds of heroes.

Yesterday many a Dutch was ashamed because of the dirty game. There are players who become a hero, like Cruijff or Maradonna. Yesterday night there was no one who might possibly become a hero. They should have lived in the early times. Then we could have turned their dirty game into a splendid game. Now everybody saw what they were doing and they were caught red-handed.

The next time I will listen to the radio. Even when the reporters try to relate as best as they can the game they are seeing, I can make my own images during their report or close my ears when they give too many coloured cards away. Then I should not feel ashamed when a team plays such a foul game in the name of Orange.

In the village now there is a vacuum. Nobody wants to cheer for the eternal champions of Germany, England, Brazil or Italy. Some Greeks wanted to cheer for Australia because they have lived there or still have family there. But the Australians like the Dutch are out of the game. I am wondering who will be cheered next on all those terraces of Molyvos under the stars...

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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