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TRUE SPIRIT: The Irish fans showed how they loved their country while facing defeat
AH football, it is such an inspiring game. I am still keeping the good feelings from watching the last football match between Spain and Ireland in the Euro 2012.
And it was not from just seeing the Spanish players make the Irish run around in circles with their crisp yet fluid passes and darting runs at goal during the hard-fought match. Or even from the satisfaction of seeing Fernando Torres finally getting the goals that I and certainly many others had wanted him to get.
It also came from watching the Irish supporters never wavering in their support for their team throughout the match, even when they were down by four goals.
Losing by that much in the end, with nothing given back in reply, must have been hard on the Irish. But they held their heads up high and, in fact, their supporters continued to sing their praise and shout their support even after the final whistle was blown.
There was none of the expression of disgust, jeering, or plastic bottle-throwing episodes, acts that sometimes happen in many other places when one's team was to disappoint expectations. At least, that was what I got from the images on TV.
One surely cannot miss the point here. It was as if they were telling all, "we may be down and out but we shall remain steadfast and we will never abandon our boys slain on the field of battle".
And if their Euro dreams had been torn to shreds, this had not however in the least dented their strong character, dignity and pride in their country and as a people. A splendid show of resolute spirit, from which one could learn a thing or two about loving country and each other as well as about facing adversity and defeat.
The Euro 2012 many must surely know is not just about a football competition. In fact, with its high stakes and the millions of spectators in the stadiums and in the host cities, it is also an event where strong nationalist and patriotic spirits are also at play on and off the field.
This is the other battle, which can even be harder to control and referee. People can easily get offended when they feel their own teams and countries get fouled or penalised, be it perceived or for real.
Fights have occurred over this and this was precisely what happened between some Russian and Polish supporters in Warsaw. It is inevitable when unthinking people forget that all human beings have nationalist and patriotic streaks in them, often times kept subdued during normal circumstances, but charging out when insults and provocation are thrown at them.
Nationalist and patriotic feelings are very strong emotive sensations that can make even the most timid person fight violently or even commit murder, when he or she loses his or her cool. Sheer presence of huge numbers can further aggravate matters to turn it into a real disaster.
Thus, and not casting away the Russian and Polish fracas, it is still to the host countries' credit that they have put in place the necessary control measures and security forces to prevent this potential problem with the many highly spirited nationalities present -- clashing with each other in the stadiums or more likely outside of these arenas.
Hopefully, we are as prepared and ready as those countries apparently are in handling our own competitions, whatever these may be, in the near future.