Just one goal can make you immortal – and 10 other theories for Euro 2024

Just One Goal Can Make You Immortal – And 10 Other Theories For Euro 2024

Football is played all over the world, but Europe can confidently say that it is most successful there. It is a cultural asset in Europe, where it has been deeply rooted since its emergence in the mid-19th century following the labor movement. European clubs are unrivaled. And apart from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, only European countries have been world champions. Ten European countries have reached a World Cup final.

Football: a European game

Football is played all over the world, but it is most successful in Europe. Rooted in European culture since the 19th century, it has become a true cultural heritage. European clubs dominate the world stage, and apart from a few South American exceptions, it is the European nations which win the world titles. Euro 2024 sees participation from twenty-four countries, although historic teams like Sweden and Greece did not qualify this year.

Democracy and football

Football thrives in democracies. Freedom and self-determination are essential values ​​for developing talents like Franz Beckenbauer, who could not have become an icon in China or Saudi Arabia. Football is also a class struggle, where competition and rivalry allow the best to flourish.

Volunteering in football

According to FIFA, 265 million people play football worldwide. The sport relies on the voluntary work of millions of people, from youth coaches to club secretaries. In Germany, for example, thousands of volunteers devote their free time to educating children and young people in democratic institutions.

Individual cooperation in football

France is recognized for its footballing talent, with players like Kylian Mbappé learning their skills playing without a manual. Didier Deschamps was able to transform these individualists into a cohesive team, leading France to two consecutive World Cup finals. Despite occasional imbalances, France remains favorite for this Euro.

Priority to fair play, but also to competition

Football transmits important values, but it also reflects the negative aspects of society. Bodies like UEFA and the DFB fight against hate speech and racism. On the ground, the competition remains fierce, clearly illustrating European social dynamics.

Ilkay Gündogan is the captain of Germany. In a survey conducted by a German channel, a fifth of respondents said they wanted to see more white players in the national team. Photograph: Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock

Diversity on the ground

Germany is currently debating a survey that found around a fifth of people want to see more white players or are bothered by a captain of Turkish origin like Ilkay Gündogan. This shows that devaluing certain players leads to failure. Success comes from cooperation and leveraging individual strengths.

Differences enrich

Each nation has its unique style of play, which makes international tournaments fascinating. Germany, often considered a “Turniermannschaft” (tournament team), benefits from its infrastructure and its large number of footballers. Gareth Southgate recently pointed out that England had the most players in the Champions League quarter-final with 18. I am confident that Germany will reach the final of their home tournament again.

I'm excited about two new teams. Albania recently started EU accession negotiations and Georgia is fighting for its democracy and membership in Europe. Their teams will play in Germany in order to proudly represent their compatriots. A Europe championship is more than just a commercial matter, it is a question of identification.

A second Sommermärchen

The Scots will transform Munich for the opening match. When we think of the “Sommermärchen” (summer fairy tale), we think of German flags. But 2006 wasn't all black, red and gold, it was multi-colored. This time yellow and blue will play a special role. At home, Ukraine is fighting for its freedom – and that of Europe. Their football team will receive a lot of solidarity in the stadiums and in the streets.

A goal can make you immortal

Lahm after scoring in the opening match of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Photograph: Diether Endlicher/AP

9st June 2006 was my day. My goal in the opening match against Costa Rica marked the start of my career. I grew up near the stadium, my whole family was in the stands, and before the match it was not certain whether I would be able to play because of a cast on my arm. Then my shot found the goal triangle, a memorable moment. I felt the symbolism of this goal a year later in a township in South Africa. I created a foundation there and the children couldn't believe that I was on the ground with them. For them, I was the boy who scored that goal.

Celebrating strengthens our bonds

I share the concern that democracy is in danger. Apparently, many people have forgotten its benefits. I am encouraged by the protests in which millions of Germans participated earlier this year to preserve democracy. Now even more people will gather with a like mind at the great football festival. Protests and parties are two different things, but they can express the same thing: appreciation for our free way of life. A single tournament will not heal the world. But football must play its role in defending the achievements of democracy. Then the world will seem happier for the next few weeks, and maybe some of that will stay.

Geht's naus und spuits! Go play!

Football is political, undeniably. In my column, published in more than 25 European countries for three years, I try to deal with social issues. But I share the desire for pure gaming with billions of fans. Football is about disconnecting, relaxing, getting excited. Let the whistle finally sound!

Philipp Lahm is the tournament director for Euro 2024. His column was produced in partnership with Oliver Fritsch of Zeit Online, the German online magazine.


Charles Foucault From Yourtopia.fr

Charles Foucault

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Articles published under the name "Charles Foucault" are the result of a collective effort by our editorial team, who share a commitment to quality journalism, in-depth coverage of world events, and compelling storytelling. Through this character, Yourtopia.fr aims to offer insightful and well-informed reporting, enriching its readers' understanding of various current affairs topics.

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