Europe united behind Orange

12 Jun

There we were, in the lobby of a Brussels business hotel. Me in the middle, biting my nails, surrounded by my conference colleagues from Poland, Spain, Italy and France. We were in Brussels for the 40 under 40 European Young Leaders summit on the future of Europe, which we had paused briefly to watch The Game. Growth or austerity, more power to Brussels or radical decentralisation?None of those questions mattered now. For the next ninety minutes, Kharkov was the centre of the world.
The waiter, a Francophone Belgian, looked at me and my orange outfit with some worry when I entered, looking for a good spot. “Any more Dutchies coming?” he asked me with slight concern. Because in case there were many of us, we should probably watch the game somewhere else. When the orange invasion turned out to be not quite as invasive, he switched the tv to the Dutch channel. “Us Belgians are actually supporting you guys”, he winked at me.
And he wasn’t the only one supporting Orange that Saturday night. The whole group sighed when yet another ball went meters over the goal. Cries of indignation when the judge overlooked the Danish handball. After yet another missed opportunity, the Pole, who only one day before had apologised for his compatriots’ appalling behavior during Dutch practise, asked me what “sjongejongejonge” meant. (subtitles: oh boy oh boy oh boy). When the final whistle blew, my Spanish colleague patted me on the back. They’d lost their first game at the World Cup, hadn’t they, so there still was hope. An Englishman who had joined us said “No worries love, I got money on you guys!”
Heartwarming solidarity in Brussels. Europe is united behind Orange. Now, let’s hope we do the same.

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