Les Bleus’ victory in the FIFA World Cup 2018 has provoked a euphoria that I haven’t seen and experienced in my entire life. The moistened streets smelled like alcohol, flash powder and sweat. Rules and etiquette were buried in oblivion for a while. Traffic lights were just blinking decorations and motorbikes and cars from different directions were mixed with the throng. It reminds me of a subtle version of the film The Purge. People climbed on monuments and structures, people pushing, some will grab you for a kiss, splash you with alcohol or water and almost anything could be done. From what I’ve seen it was some kind of a dangerously inclined fun. It is sad that there were people who got injured… and died.
Since the threat of terrorism is still there I kept on checking behaviors that were unusual from that already unusual behavior of the crowd. Fear of stampede and falling broken structures was in mind but hell rising couldn’t probably stop the supporters of Les Bleus.
Nobody was leading the crowd. Those who didn’t know where to go followed those who knew… to march down the most beautiful avenue in the world until the Arc de Triomphe, the symbol of French pride and patriotism. Every once in a while, someone would start singing “La Marseillaise”, the French national anthem, just like when the game was ongoing. Sometimes or a lot of times you would hear those witty chants. Some got stuck in my head like the “hé, qui ne chante pas n’est pas français” and “on n’est champion, on n’est champion”. It was intense. I haven’t heard the Filipinos singing the “Lupang Hinirang” when our teams played in international competitions or in asian games. Maybe, the Philippine football team could make us sing our national anthem later.
As I was marching with them, I imagined the scene of the Bastille Day which was also commemorated the day before the FIFA world cup championship. The destruction of the Bastille, a symbol of tyranny and oppression, marked the start of the French revolution. It made me reflect whether yesterday had the same synchrony as that in 1789 but with different motivation. Yesterday was to celebrate a victory and not to trigger a revolution. Yesterday wasn’t “La Prise de la Bastille” but “La Prise de la Coupe du Monde”.
Enough with the drama. So I was there at rue de Rivoli with the Louvre Museum on the other side, trying to get a better picture of the marchers with the best of my unprofessional photography skills when a man with a “barbe” who reminded me of Hagrid in Harry Potter grabbed my hand and showed his intention to kiss me. I kept him at arm’s-length. A while later, after buying some choco-vanilla ice cream, I spotted a floral chemise and when I looked at his face, it was Hagrid and he was saying “Hé! Le bisou, toujours pas?” to which I replied “C’est pour la prochaine Coupe du Monde!”. And we laughed. Now that the FIFA World Cup is over, life is back to normal, but the important thing is, friendships were made and solidified. Thanks to Les Bleus.