Stephan Reich of cult German football magazine 11Freunde explains why it’s so beautiful that Ireland have reached Euro 2016.
Ireland have qualified for the European Championship in France. And it is precisely at times like these that this is a stroke of fortune.
It is part of the perfidious strategy of the terrorists, that we should always and everywhere be afraid. Cafes, bars, concert halls, football stadiums – it seems there is no place that is safe from the bloody message. Certainly not the places that are symbolic of what we call freedom.
Each person must find their own way of handling and dealing with such shocking events such as the bloodshed in Paris. But it is clear that we cannot afford to allow fear to run our lives. That the joy with which we look at life cannot be stopped, the celebrations, dancing, singing.
Shortly after the attacks, the hashtag #parisisaboutlife began making the rounds, circulated by Joann Sfar, one of the illustrators of “Charlie Hebdo”. “Champagne and Joy” was on the drawing he tweeted, literally “champagne and joy.” But these days that means more. These days, it is to say: “If fear takes the joy of living, then we have lost.”
The world needs joy, dancing, singing
Celebrations, dancing, singing – who can do these better than the Irish, who on Monday qualified for Euro 2016 in France itself? Ironically in France. which so shortly after the attacks is still covered with a leaden seriousness, a seriousness that will accompany the tournament next year. The qualification of the Irish is a godsend. The Boys in Green can celebrate like no other nation, always peaceful, always sympathetic and emphatic, with an infectious, childlike joy.
And joy is what we need. Joy of life, just as was shown with the kit manager of the Irish, a stocky 60-year-old guy named Dick Redmond, who after winning 2:0 against Bosnia bounced like a rubber ball in a Superman costume through the changing room. The joy of nonsense just as the Irish fans celebrated in 2012, cheering the Polish pensioner who looked like manager Giovanni Trapattoni or singing at the police. Joy that you cannot prohibit, like those of the Irish fans on Monday in a pub in front of the stadium who stated: “Paris is in our thoughts but it will not stop us from traveling.”
And that’s good. The world needs Superman, the world needs dancing, and singing. The tournament in France will be different, perhaps more oppressive, and hopefully without incident. But the Irish will be there to support their team in their famous fashion. They’ll bring huge numbers of good-humoured people prepared to experience a piece of joy. For this then, we look forward even if pleasure is difficult at this moment. But as Paris is about life, football is also about life. And the Irish are the best proof.