We’re weekending in Marseilles en route to London and our rented apartment overlooks the Vieux-Port. It seems like a busy place – especially last night. We were kept up until quite late by Algerian fans celebrating their 0-0 draw against England.
It’s funny to think that a dull scoreless draw, in which neither side had many great chances, would be the source of such celebration: Nobody won! Nobody lost! Nobody even scored a goal! HURRAY! – It’s basically the opposite of sports fandom.
But as I watched the flare-lit celebrations from our window, I got the sense that a lot of those people weren’t really football fans anyway, and the result was as irrelevant as the sport itself. They were just out to congregate and celebrate their Algerianess. Then I remembered the point of the World Cup: for the underdogs to thrill at every small morsel of success – however inconsequential, and the powerhouses to wring hands, point fingers, and hit the panic button every time they do not hammer their opponents 6-0.
Which brings me to my next point: I think I enjoyed the Algerian noiseparty almost as much as I revelled in the shocked silence following the 2-0 Mexico France encounter. It’s not schadenfreude though; it’s the satisfaction of justice meted out belatedly, (the football Gods have not lost their dab hand at showmanship). It’s also, like North Korea scoring against Brazil, and Germany losing their second game after manhandling the Socceroos, yet another signal that the second round will be full of surprises.