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For Europeans, and even more so for the French, the 2018 World Cup was a Corneillian event. The monthlong football tournament in Russia offered an enchanted respite from a tumultuous world and revealed the better angels of our nature.In stark contrast to the "real world," the two leading powers, the United States and China, played no role in the tournament.In the 2018 World Cup – a century after the end of the nationalist bloodbath that was World War I – a "soft," even gentle nationalism prevailed.Russia is hardly an exponent of soft power, yet it deserves credit for the absence of violence during the tournament. Whereas the Vietnam War-era Woodstock festival exemplified the slogan "Make Love, Not War," the de facto slogan of the 2018 Cup seems to have been "Balls, Not Bombs".The closest parallel to this year is not 1968 or 1995, but 1998, when France first won the World Cup.Usually a football powerhouse, the German team was eliminated in the first round of this year's tournament, just as its politics were entering a deeper malaise.
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