Saturday, 21 November 2009

Football Dreams

The footballing dream is over. On Wednesday night, the Portuguese beat Bosnia 0-1 and are the ones who will be packing their bags to go to South Africa in the summer. The Bosnians were expecting it after their earlier defeat on Saturday, but are none the less devastated. Being English and therefore with some experience of being dumped out of important football tournaments by the Portuguese, I feel their pain.

I went to the game. My goodness me was I excited. I absolutely LOVE big important games like this one. The games when people don't sleep the night before because they are so nervous. The games when everyone comes together, whether they like football or not. The games when suddenly everyone appears clad in the country colours (blue and yellow in Bosnia's case). Even in areas where people don't really support Bosnia, there was a sense of support for the team.

Bosnia play their home games in the western industrial town of Zenica. They could play in the 35,000 seater stadium in Sarajevo but prefer the smaller 16,000 seater of Biljino Polje where they have a fearsome record. I could see why, the stadium was full of passionate Bosnians. I couldn't see a single Portuguese fan. Right up until the point when Portugal scored and the whole stadium went totally silent bar about 100 men clad in red and yellow corralled right up in the corner. At that point the Bosnians knew it was over.

I wanted to write a more thoughtful post. A post that talked about how all is not well with Balkan Football. A post that said how much the Bosnian fans hate the people who work in the Bosnian FA, believing them to be utterly corrupt. A post about how fans have been killed here in the past 2 months, purely for supporting their team. First, the Toulouse fan from France who was attacked by Partizan supporters in Belgrade and then the supporter of the predominantly Muslim Sarajevo FK club, who was shot when his team travelled to the Bosnian Croat town of Siroki Brijeg (and as aside I wanted to comment on how the man responsible for the shooting was arrested, put into a secure jail and escaping from its centre just hours later as a story that is so typically Balkan it should be a case study). A post about how links between some football fan groups and far right nationalist groups caused the Pride March in Belgrade to be cancelled as police couldn't guarantee the safety of the march participants.

But this is not the time. Somehow it doesn't feel right to point out the negative aspects of football at this precise moment in time. Instead, I will leave you with a video of the Bosnian fans before the game, singing their unofficial anthem, the '3 Lions' equivalent as it were (apologies for the quality, I'm no cameraman). Ah hem. 2 days later, I'm still trying to upload the video of the Bosnians singing 'ale ale ale igraj Bosno ne daj se' in full and optimistic voice, but it isn't working. Technology defeats me again. People who do want to see more of the game should head over to We Do Adventure, the other Brits in Bosnia who were also at the game and who are far more proficient at taking (and uploading) vidoes than I am.

A final note to the Bosnians from a Brit, used to experiencing defeat and disappointment at football. There is always next time. Hajmo Bosno!


WeDoAdventure said...

We're told by one of the guys we went with that '60 Minutes' on Monday night will be an expose on how the Bosnian FA took money to throw the games...or some similar conspiracy!

They are excited to hear what's going to be said, and taking solace from the fact the Irish were really cheated out of a World Cup place.

Laruca said...

You actually went to the game, in Zenica? We didn't manage to get tickets, tried every avenue we could think of, no luck :( Drew the line at the touts selling them for 200km though.. Ended up watching it on the huge screen outside the BBI center, the road was closed and the atmosphere was amazing. Such a shame they lost, would have made next summer so much better!

Tattie Weasle said...

There's nothing like seeing a game first hand. Though not a footie fan I just love the atmosphere and feeling of camraderie. At that moment while the game is goingon you are part of an invincible family and it is very uplifting...the down side is that only one side can win. Next time Bosnia, next time!

Metropolitan Mum said...

I always wondered about the 'fascination football', it just doesn't do anything for me. Unfortunately, I connect mainly right wing oriented fascists to football. The incidents you were talking about only sadly underline this sentiments.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

WDA - Thanks for the tip. Shall be watching with some interest!

Laruca - yes I did! I have some connections as my PhD is football related. 200KM is very steep for the tickets, but the stadium was packed. It was great, I really enjoyed it (result notwithstanding).

TW - I love the atmosphere of the big games. Such a shame they didn't win, it could have been such a boost for the country.

MM - There are undoubtedly connections and they do tarnish the game. But the majority of fans enjoy the game and the occasion. What an awful shame that a few can so spoil the event.

A Modern Mother said...

Yes, there is always next time. Though hopefully you won't be there to watch (?)