It’s wrong to judge people, but in this column I will. I know there are countless personal circumstances, but in this column I will rely solely on generalizations (and maybe some exaggeration). Because of the entire ecosystem —flora and fauna— that inhabits football stadiums, I want to dwell on the species in which the greatest amount of irrationality is concentrated: the fans who leave the venue before the game ends. And I use the verb to abandon —instead of leaving, leaving, or leaving— consciously because what happens when a fan heads out at minute 89 is full-blown abandonment.
There will be those who think that it is your team that has previously abandoned you by signing an atrocious match. There will be those who believe that if you are having a miserable day because of your team, there is no point in prolonging it. There will be those who understand and even share the desire to end the torture, get home as soon as possible and take a shower that will clear the unhappiness down the drain. But surrenders contravene the unpredictability of soccer. Attending a match and leaving when the outcome is not yet certain simply defies common sense. As Juan Villoro would say: it is acting like Nostradamus, sucking your thumb and deciding that the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.
Leaving a meeting halfway, because two minutes of football can contain ninety, is like leaving the church before the bride and groom get married. yes I wantlike leaving a book forever on the penultimate page, like turning off the television with the box still closed Sevenleave the room without discovering whether or not Francesca will get out of the car at The bridges of Madisonif Jack will get on Rose’s board, if Charlton Heston will ever understand what that was Planet of the Apes where it had ended up. It’s like walking in the opposite direction of the Statue of Liberty half buried in the sand on the beach.
There are acceptable reasons for leaving the stadium before the final whistle: being in labor or your partner is in labor, some serious medical emergency, your house is on fire or your child is graduating (here perhaps it can be reached negotiate). The worst possible excuse is to leave early to avoid a traffic jam. The fans who left the Bernabéu on the night of May 4, 2022 in the Champions League game against Manchester City, just before Rodrygo sent the game to extra time, just before Benzema certified the most miraculous of comebacks, those who no longer have the option of turning back on the M30, those deserters of joy, can proudly tell today how they won the tie against traffic.
Soccer has that ability to become incomprehensible a thousand times. There are dozens of examples. Perhaps the most obvious is the 1999 Champions League final, at the Camp Nou. With the stadium clock ticking 90 minutes, Manchester United scored not once, but twice, to undo victory for a Bayern Munich team that was already popping the beer, even if the beer didn’t pop. In just two minutes the chronicles fell apart and the entire paragraph on German superiority turned to dust.
Most likely, however, you will hold out until the end of the game and your team signs another loss without epic. Because there are rarely fireworks at the end of the festival. So it will take you minutes to leave the stadium, in that procession of dead spirits that continues through the surrounding streets, weighing the advisability of switching to cricket as an amateur. But being a fan is also about that: remaining gullible even when (particularly when) all hope is lost.
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