Seyram A. Butame

You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys/ They ain't gonna fight no wars.

When fans roar with delight!

10 December 2022

One of the things I love about football (and sports more generally) is the reactions it gives people. One of my fondest memories is how during the 2010 South African iteration of the World Cup, Ghana’s match against Uruguay brought so many together, in joy and then later in grief and disappointment. I’d spent the day traveling through rural parts of Northern Ghana to reach Mole National Park because I wanted to see some elephants. When I arrived at the little resort town just outside of the park, it was just in time to watch Suarez’s famous handball (famous in Ghana at least_), Asamoah Gyan’s failure to convert the spot kick, and then our final demise at the hands of Diego Forlan’s men. The next day, I vividly remember overhearing one of the game wardens describe how he could not sleep because each time he closed his eyes, all he could see was the open net Gyan failed to stuff with the ball. It is a fond memory because it reminds me of the shared spirit of the sport, how everyone shouts “goal” when the home team scores. How every sighs and groans in disappointment when the home team concedes a goal. And finally, the elation or despondency that grips entire neighborhoods, cities, and even countries when the home team wins or loses.

That was precisely the case yesterday when the Netherlands played Argentina. Argentina was two goals up for most of the game, and it looked like the Dutch would go out without much of a fight. Then Wout Weghorst had the game of his life. A former Wolfsburg FC striker, now playing for Burnley FC and on the downswing of a strong career, pulled one back for the Dutch with a header in the 83rd minute of regular time. And in the 11th minute of injury time, a cheeky set piece play allowed Wout Weghorst to equalize, sending the match into extra time. Ultimately, the Dutch lost the match, but that last-minute goal sparked joy in the Dutch supporters. And it was so infectious. Looking at their faces, I know exactly how they feel. I can feel the blood surging through my veins as I look on. Even now, more than 24 hours later, the emotion leaks through the screen.

There was a video going around shortly after Saudi Arabia beat Argentina during the group stages of the World Cup, where some Saudi supporters watching the match, at their home were so elated they ripped their door off its hinges and flung the door out into the street. I wish I could find it now.