The World Cup gives everyone something to talk about. Complete strangers will strike up conversations about the merits of each team and the latest results. Malls, lobbies in commercial buildings and even in court houses have big screen TVs set up to broadcast the latest matches so nobody has to miss a game even if they are working or shopping.
Unfortunately, Canada didn't make it to the World Cup this year... but it doesn't stop people here in Canada from having their favourite teams. We think that just about everyone in Tango (in Toronto, at least) wants Argentina to win. We are also cheering for Argentina - if they won all our friends in Tango and in Buenos Aires would be so thrilled! I am also (or was also) cheering for England. "I know, I know, they have been so disappointing in both the World Cup and in the Euro Cup for the past decade, I couldn't even bear watching any of their matches because they always end up losing!" I said. "I can't help it, I was born in England and the England team will always be a sentimental favourite for me, even if the team can't work together and haven't had a decent goalkeeper since David Seaman retired!"
Man Yung has a more merit-based approach. "I am cheering for the teams that played the best with the best sportsmanship and best spirit. This year has been especially exciting for me to watch all these not traditionally soccer powerhouse teams win against famous established sides - look at the great results from teams like Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, Algeria, Nigeria, U.S.A., who made it to the round of 16."
What we don't admire - teams whose players plan to win at all costs. They may play good soccer, but some of their competitive edge comes from things like obnoxious fouls, ridiculous dives, all defense and no offense ("Sorry, pulling up a bus in front of the goal to stop the opposite side from scoring isn't real soccer," says Man Yung. "I agree, how unromantic and I wrote about this before," I replied) - or even BITING.
Everyone knows about this by now. Some even knew about it before it happened - and won tons of money because they placed bets on this happening during the World Cup
We must be losers because we think that winning isn't the most important thing in life. We didn't pick our favourite teams because we thought they were going to win, but because we have emotional or personal connection to their countries, or because the way they played made us feel proud to be human beings and give us hope in humanity.
July the 1st is not only Canada Day - it is also the day on which Hong Kong people take to the streets every year to protest against the tyranny and injustice of the Hong Kong and Chinese government. This year it is reported that over 700,000 people joined the protest. The Hong Kong legislature is unfairly skewed in favour of pro-government forces due to an election process that does not represent the people of Hong Kong. The Chinese government has recently published a white paper that blatantly refutes the autonomy of Hong Kong from interference from the Mainland as previously promised in the Hong Kong basic law.
For those who don't follow Hong Kong history and Hong Kong politics, this is confusing. Just know this: the Chinese government is trying to win at all costs - first by guile, then by lies, and now by force. It is ugly.
We were watching the Canada Day fireworks from our condo unit window. At 10 p.m., fireworks from several locations along the skyline explode over the night sky. The fireworks are even more beautiful this year.
"In China during national celebrations, they would have even more extravagant firework displays - and the government would recruit dancers, soldiers and performers to put on a big fancy show with everyone smiling so hard that it looks painful to watch. They would use this as evidence that their country is mighty and powerful and how much the people love the Communist Party. What winners they are." Man Yung paused, thinking about the horrors in China right now. "Here in Canada, I feel Canadians really genuinely love their country. Canada doesn't have to put on a big show to make people proud to be Canadian. All Canada had to do was to give Canadians a wonderful place to live and grow and be free - that's how Canada won all our hearts and souls."
Happy Canada Day to everyone!