Confessions of a Clueless Football Viewer, Part 1

The UEFA Euro 2016 has begun and after (somewhat unexpectedly) viewing a few of these in recent years, I can once again predict some of the things that are going to happen in the coming four weeks.

I will watch a few games and surprise myself anew that I actually do this, because if ever there was a person well versed in one-dimensional, non-technical sports viewing, it’s me. Fan accessories in the colours of the German flag, from wigs to flags to sunglasses to face paint, will spill from most of the supermarkets and drugstores one passes in town, and I will remember the paint stick a colleague made me throw away after a news report about a bad batch being produced.

Most of us will watch the matches with Germany, though we might forego Hamburg’s largest public viewing spot at the Heiligengeistfeld with its 50,000 football fans.

I will not be able to comment on any technical parts of the matches and keep silent as the tangle of both English and German football terms (Abseits! Torschuss!) becomes ever more confusing in my head.

It’s all good.

I found myself watching the opening match between France and Romania of my own accord, partly also because of the game taking place in the Saint-Denis district of Paris, with sad memories of the November 2015 terrorist attacks and subsequent raids in the area being expanded by current security concerns. There is no light-hearted viewing this year, as clueless as I may be sports-wise. But there is an ongoing wish to enjoy what this championship is supposed to be about – seeing the best at their game, international sportsmanship and excitement about a big event being followed all over Europe.

France won against Romania 2:1, with the host country’s team possibly being surprised by the agility of their opponent. With my notorious ability to get teams mixed up I was thankful the French players were wearing blue and the Romanian ones yellow. I always think while I watch and as my attention inevitably starts to wander that so many people are seeing so much more in the game than I am, that other viewers have football layers and I don’t, but this does nothing to dampen my enjoyment, or, better said, amusement.

But here’s a question. After seeing France’s Olivier Giroud in a better close-up after he scored the team’s first goal against Romania (kudos), I do have to wonder: isn’t a full beard even more uncomfortable during a match than long hair? Unless it absorbs all the sweat pouring down the footballer’s face?

giroudIs the hipster making his way in to football? I can just imagine the look a more experienced viewer would give me, a mixture of incredulity and mild disgust on his face, as he would say to me, but nicely, being a friend, “I wasn’t looking at his beard, I was watching him score the goal.”

And is it just me, or are there way more tattoo sleeves visible among players? Not that anyone can really beat Germany’s Marco Reus tattoing his own name and birth year on his arm. That’s the way!

I really do think I come up with queries that hardly anyone would consider otherwise.

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