A few months ago I watched the African Cup of Nations final in a small friendly bar in a central European city.
Steaming with alcohol and charged inter-gender atmosphere. The only patron in the establishment concentrating on truly important matters was yours truly. Throughout 120 minutes of a goalless draw between the Ivory Coast and Zambia – which was actually a better game than the score suggests.
Until the penalties began.
Suddenly the place went silent. Everyone was suddenly so interested in the action. So captivated they were that they even inquired about important matters, such as who is playing and from where they are, and why they play. My social standing was ascending rapidly!
And they enjoyed what they heard! That the Africans have a championship and today they have a final and soon felt comfortable to comment on the matter. One girl remarked “so that is why all of them are black” and one guy suggested that “a well placed ball to the high corner is the best way to take a penalty”.
Another girl asked “how come the manager was white?” No need of mockery. Think of it: why should a girl who never takes any interest in the game know that national teams can only use local players but may hire a foreign coach?
The penalties made here take interest and learn.
The place went absolutely wild when the Zambian keeper – Kennedy Mweene – cooly rolled the ball into the corner under pressure, that his opposite number Boubacar Barry felt obliged to shake his hand.
Half an hour earlier, on a neighboring TV screen, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal with a shot the dipped and swerved like a fighter jet and caused any football aficionado an epileptic fit. But this nonchalant roll by the Zambian keeper. Super!
This is the world of reality TV.
Replays? Away goals? So un-cool!