With the unbearably sweltering heat that has engulfed Beirut for the entirety of this summer, Christmas could not have come sooner. Yet it won’t be adorned in extravagant red attire or come with enchanting carols and snowy lush backdrops.
This version of Christmas will instead consist of a 104x64m pitch, two 7.32m goals, and one 445g ball, that invariably – and I speak for myself and other football enthusiasts – will make up our entire psyche for the coming nine months.
Sofas will be violated by ungodly amounts of carcasses, pubs will be raided by excited mobs, and televisions abused with gratuitous curses, all in the spirit of football.
And it starts Saturday. After three months of abstinence, perfectly civil human beings will be rendered mumbling, stumbling and catatonic zombies, who think Sunday Mass is code for England’s North West derby.
Sure, the European Championship acted as an analgesic for precisely 23 days, but predicting the outcome of proceedings (Spain winning) was like preordaining a 12 a.m. Lebanese power cut.
Then there was the spectacle that was the Olympics, and the Brits sure did bask in their glory, and rightfully so. A supremely organized tournament, coupled with indelible moments, made for prime time viewing, and in the process papered over the cracks of the disastrous football event, which should be entirely eradicated from the Games.
The fascinating project at PSG finally materialized, with an underwhelming 2-2 draw with minnows Lorient. The Qatari-owned club are aiming for world domination but have yet to even achieve domestic glory, so their initial blip will undoubtedly be frowned upon, after net spending eclipsed $250 million over the past 15 months, following the arrival of Lucas Moura.
But with all due respect, there are bigger fish to fry than the French league, with England’s Premier League acting as a Big Mac to France’s veggie burger. You would be remiss if you fruitlessly attempted to counter popular belief that the Premier League is the crème de la crème of all footballing associations. The devil’s advocate would cite the fact that La Liga boasts the two most dominant clubs in world football. Be that as it may, it doesn’t alter the fact that the two-horse 18-mule town that is La Liga pales in comparison to the grandeur and bravado of England’s greatest export, where the innumerable twists and turns along with the foreboding storylines never subside. (And if you don’t believe me, check with your local bookie, who’s offering a cent on the dollar, for Barcelona winning away at Real Sociedad this Sunday).
El Classico aside, the Spanish league would be the brand new Peugeot 207 model your mother implores you to purchase, because it’s practical and economical, while deep in your being you yearn for a five-series beamer. The constant influx of international stars, along with a touch of je ne sais quoi has created the most glorious manifestation of league football throughout the game’s history, i.e. the Premier League.
On a more serious note though, one cannot overlook the fact that each league in world football contains an emblematic vision and uncanny charm that sets it aside from the rest. As Lebanon continues to be firmly entrenched in political, social and economic turmoil, the beautiful game of football today offers us a modicum of hope, a moment where the deluge is momentarily quelled. True, it may lack the complexities of politics and intricacies of economics, but at least you know what you are getting. Nothing trumps the simple life: just you, your cohorts, a few beers and hopefully a 60-inch HD TV. The world and the country can breathe a collective sigh of relief, for the wait is over, and alas the season has begun.