TURKIYE, well done and thank you!
To lose an important match with honour is what we have been used to for many years with England (at least until they decided to appoint foreign coaches) and now we have to see the same thing happen to Turkey, as they lost 3-2 to Germany despite dominating the game. How the Germans did it is a mystery to most of us, but they managed to do ‘a Turkey’ on Turkey by scoring a goal in the last minute and therefore found their way into the final (again!!!).
I don’t think England have been missed at all from a footballing point of view and both Croatia and Russia who were in the same qualifying group have impressed with their football, the latter beating the former favourites, Holland.
Holland have a knack of losing important matches in the same way that Germany has the habit of winning them. Again, it is not clear why the Dutch did so badly against Russia. Was it because they lost their rhythm having had most of the team changed for the match against Romania or was it the effect of the ‘death’ of Bouhlarouz’s ‘child’? Or were they just beaten by a technically better and better coached team in Russia? Dagblad de Pers contained an article in their all football edition, where the journalist pointed out many of the shortcomings of the Dutch team as well as pointing out just how lucky Holland were to have won by such wide margins against the ageing but glamourous teams of Italy and France. It sounded negative and seemed to be very picky, but was in the end a lot more accurate that articles explaining how baby power had helped the Dutch team (photos of Dutch players bringing their babies and toddlers onto the pitch after the match against France.
In the meantime, Turkey became the people’s favourite and, as often happens, just when the attention reached maximum pitch… they lost… but lost in glory. In Amsterdam and in Berlin, the after-match parties were joyful occasions, with Turks and locals joined in celebrating the near miraculous wins of the Turkish team. In Turkey, however, people were killed in the celebrations, too many shotguns being fired into the night sky and various other dark reasons… Best not to get too carried away.
In the meantime, the Turkish political situation seems to be getting worse and worse, the new government unable to do very much and the winning party (with 47% of the popular vote) in danger of being outlawed by the High Court. A transvestite singer is being pursued through the courts for being unpatriotic by saying that (s)/he would not want his/her son or daughter to serve in the army (apparently). Further, a local court has decided to ban the country’s foremost gay and lesbian organization – Lambdainstanbul, for being against Turkish family values. Inflation rises and the currency is vastly overvalued. Rocky times ahead. And with Sarkozy at the head of Europe for the coming six months, the Turks cannot look to the EU for support.
And then we have the EU, with its democratic deficit and its inability to convince the people of Europe that it is an influence for good. Every referendum which is held becomes an opportunity for people to successfully attack the EU and obtain a no vote. It seems that it is easier to gather support against the EU than for the EU. The arguments for tend to be longer and more difficult to explain. Arguments against are often very emotive, picking on small issues (real or make-believe) and are perfect for soundbites. In Holland, we had an almighty alliance of vested interests ranged against the EU treaty/constitution, anything from animal liberationists, gay rights activists, ultra-religious people, socialists, patriots and so on. A similar thing happened in Ireland. Yet, in a world increasingly dominated by multi-nationals, military powers such as the US and China and economic powers such as Russia, India and Brazil, do we not need to work together to preserve the freedoms and welfare of the people of Europe and is not the EU, the way we can best achieve that? And then with Turkey included as well…. Thank you, Mr Sarkozy.