Last Sunday, just seven days ago, France was winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup after beating Croatia 4-2 in the final.
The week between the semi-final stage and the final, I was contacted by CBC a couple of times. “We’d love to chat with a French national who lives in Ottawa,” one of the journalists explained. “So, are you a big soccer fan?”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” I laughed, “but I’m not really into football.”
“Oh,” she replied, deflated—apparently, French nationals are really hard to find in Ontario. “But you’re happy that France made it that far, right?” she still asked.
I paused. “Yes, of course. I mean, whatever makes people happy.”
“Where you supporting France from the start?”
“… Actually, I kind of liked the idea of a South America nation winning the Cup—like Uruguay or Brazil.”
“… You’re not a die-hard French soccer fan, are you?”
“Like I said… nope, not really.”
And this is why, twice, you were spared what could have been a very awkward interview on CBC. Gosh, I don’t think I would have last two seconds talking about football.
Mind you, I’m not against football either and I meant it when I said, “whatever makes people happy.” Over the past few years, French people gathered several times to mourn victims of terrorist attacks. It was nice to see a happy gathering on TV for once.
We missed the party as we only arrived in France last Thursday but I was hoping the “on a gagné!” feeling would last a bit. Are people in better mood, happier? I can’t really tell. The only thing I noticed is the number of French flags still displayed. Unlike in Canada or the US, French don’t really put their flag on everything and everywhere because this kind of behaviour is often associated with far-right movements. This time, though, this small display of national pride makes sense—context is everything. There are French flags in small businesses, bars (especially where the World Cup was broadcast) and there are a few flags or World Cup graffiti on street furniture.
Most newspapers and magazines feature players interviews and “World Cup best moments” collectibles and there are still a few jerseys, flags and other memorabilia for sale.
That said, the party seems to be over and Nantes is quieter than usual. Did people wait until the end of the World Cup to take holidays? No idea. French aren’t richer than last year, I doubt the entire city went to the seaside or abroad.
Maybe they’re all training for the next World Cup somewhere.