Zizou Scores, Butts, Leaves

photo, after the game, sunday Football fans without a victory party.

The Shouting, All Over Too

by Ric Erickson

Sunday, 9. July:– The most difficult is to write about something that everybody has already experienced. But this is relative, for there were very few fellow passengers on the line 13 Métro I caught around the corner, for the ride up to the Champs–Elysées. On the way, through only five stations, not many more joined, and the trip was cut short at Invalides when the driver said it was the last stop before the avenue. Then I was glad of the practise walking I'd been doing.

In front of Napoléon's tomb the sky was spotless blue and the new glass on the roof of the Grand Palais looked like a cocktail of ice. Some kids, wrapped in French and Algerian flags were banging away on drums with empty plastic water bottles, quite happy with the audio effect. Police were blocking all cars on the right bank side of the Pont Alexandre III so there were only a few underway on bikes, rollers and scooters.

At the corner of the avenue sunlight was focused on this street of dreams and excessive civic PR, somewhat like the cyclopes headlight of the Orient Express. There were a few lone cars still circulating when I thought there would be none. I stumbled west towards the blinding yellow light, stumbling over the barricades already in place for the 14. July parade next Friday. The tricolor flags were up too, possibly as a forethought for the evening's TV coverage

photo, smoke on the champsAfter the 'victory' rockets.

Past Rond Point a great many younger citizens were pressed against the windows of Renault's Atelier . Some older folks were assisting with this parked on benches, but I couldn't get close. Other occasional windows and doors attracted gatherings of sports' fans on both sides of the avenue. Many others contented themselves with comfy perches on stone at the edge of the street rather than press the issue.

Nearer the Arc active fandom petered out, especially around the closed Drugstore, closely watched by heavily–shielded six–packs of police, gendarmes or CRS troops, plus there was a gang of 'security' goons in black t–shirts apparently guarding a unit of the Chez Clément chain.

On the island in the centre of the Etoile a fleet of ambulances was stationed under the Arc de Triomphe. Some cars were rolling around like loose BBs in a 10–litre gas bidon, not bothered by the removed street–centre pylons or traffic lights. The pedestrian signals were turned off so sports fans crossed when and where they wanted, often halting in the middle for those memorable photos taken with portable phones. Photographers almost as heavily laden as the cops tried not to nod off.

This went on for a long time a long distance from any information. There were occasional bursts of applause of cheers from the avenue, but not frequently. The light was sliding away, drifting towards Ireland and Boston. After what seemed like days the street lights came on, turning everything a warm yellow.

We disconnected were unaware that the match in Berlin had tied at one–one – no more – and that a fruitless overtime session had played out. I moved back down the avenue and decided to eavesdrop on a big gathering outside the George V café not far from the intersection. It seemed full with about another 500 glued to the outside, including the cops looking like gladiators.

Then there was a shout. Followed by an 'ahh,' and then another shout that didn't quite happen, and the crowd broke up and a bunch of sweaty sportsfans began pushing out of the café like sardines tired of their can. I overheard one of those guys who is supposed to be living the good life in Bangalore say just one word in answer to a question I didn't hear – Italy.

The Shouting, All Over Too

There was no charge of thousands onto the avenue. For a long time there was nothing at all and even a few cars were cautiously exploring the wide avenue. Gradually folks left the sidewalks, some wrapped in the tricolor flags, and milled aimlessly about with enough elbowroom for sizeable cattle drive, far from being the million overjoyed crazies budgeted for by the minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy.

photo, red flares on the champs No saving the flares until next time.

After a pause those with the red flares lit them. The few TV crews taped the usual suspects leaping up and down but their hearts weren't in it. Firecrackers went off and some rockets lept into the inky sky and there were some token clouds of red smoke, but it seemed more like a very warm first of January that many wished never was.

From a viewpoint of standing up there really weren't many people, certainly no dense masses. But looking off, across the tops of heads towards Concorde it looked as if the avenue contained an army. Further down, after Rond Point, mostly everybody was walking east. Not saying much. A lot of people who had been out for a stroll had seen all there was – not much – and the show was over.

Italy Smiles – France Frowns, Comédia

Today's victory parade on the Champs–Elysées was cancelled for the usual reasons and it was even decided to hold the team's parade some other year, like in 2010. The French team arrived in town in time to have lunch with president Jacques Chirac at the Elysée Palace where some of the players have had happier lunches in the past.

Then they moved a few blocks to a balcony of the Hotel Crillon overlooking the Place de la Concorde. A modest but enthusiastic gathering saluted the players as they appeared. At one point a few choruses of the Marseillaise were sung and then the chant "Zizou Zizou Zizou" began and Zinedine Zidane appeared for the fans. They shouted, "Merci Zizou!"

Of course there is a lot of comment about Zizou blowing his cools and giving Italian player Marco Materazzi a head shot to the chest. Zizou played in Italy for several years so it is possible that Materazzi forgot that Zizou might understand the kind of Italian used by football players – and got bopped in consequence. What we all saw might not have been seen by any of the referees, or only seen by one – on TV. The rule is, referees must see infractions with their own eyes.

photo, portugese fans, wednesday Dismay Wednesday as Portugal loses to France.

Another theory has it that since Zizou is retiring he had no other chance for revenge. So ends the history of this mild–mannered Clark Kent of a footballer – Italian style.

Today's Le Parisien says "Merci!" on the front page, addressed to the team as a whole. The back page, paid for by Orange pictures Zizou and says 'merci' too. Other full–page ads are from SFR, La Poste, Evianand Coca Cola with Carrefour taking a half–page. Evian's text reads, "Allez les vieux!!! Allez les vieux!!! Allez les vieux!!! Allez les vieux!!! Allez les vieux!!! Allez les vieux!!! Allez les vieux!!! Allez les vieux!!! Allez les vieux!!!"

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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