OUR NEIGHBORS ROARED WHEN RUSSIA SCORED. DEAD SILENCE WHEN CROATIA HIT THE NET

OUR NEIGHBORS ROARED WHEN RUSSIA SCORED. DEAD SILENCE WHEN CROATIA HIT THE NET by Jeff J Brown – China Rising

Pictured below: I know, you’re asking, “What does a statue of Charles de Gaulle have to do with Russia, Croatia and the World Cup”? There IS a connection. Read on…

With the time zone difference, the World Cup matches in China have been starting at 18:00, 22:00 and then 02:00 the following morning. Three nights ago, it was Russia and Croatia in their quarterfinal match, which kicked off at 02:00.

At 02:30, I was suddenly awakened by a deafening, raucous cheer. Russia had just drawn first blood against Croatia. Mind you, our double-paned windows were closed, we had on an air conditioner and the bar-restaurant where the eruption took place is 12 floors below us! It was easy to realize that my middle- and working class neighbors were supporting Russia, because when Croatia scored nine minutes later, there was total silence below.

By then, I couldn’t go back to sleep and when Croatia went ahead, 2-1, again, dead silence from the Chinese football fans far below. Extra time and it was 04:30 in the morning when Russia made it 2-2 in the last minute of overtime. This time, it was silent. I guess the fans were too worn out, too drunk or could sense that, while Russia gave it hell, by all reports, Croatia was clearly the stronger side.

When it went to penalty kicks and Russia missed the first salvo, again, total silence. Like the bad omen of a devastating flood or earthquake, that for thousands of years could spell the loss of a Chinese emperor’s Heavenly Mandate, that blown first kick portended the obvious. Russia’s unimaginable World Cup run to the quarterfinals was coming to a proud, but defeated end.

This was all a great anecdotal experience about life on the streets of China and geopolitical preferences of the average citizen. Not to mention, local football fans who are willing to go out at two o’clock in the morning to root for Russia, when China never even qualified for the World Cup (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2018/06/22/100000-chinese-going-to-the-world-cup-in-russia-with-no-team-to-cheer-for-china-rising-radio-sinoland-180622/ and http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2018/07/02/football-was-chinas-national-sport-for-millennia-why-are-they-so-bad-now-china-rising-radio-sinoland-180702/).

My wife and I will be joining them tonight, at 02:00, to see France go against Belgium. It should be a great match. When we went to watch France dispatch Argentina in the first round of the knockout phase, 4-3, we were the only non-Chinese at our neighborhood restaurant-bar. The crowd was decidedly in favor of France. I’m not sure why, given its crucial colonial role in profiting from China’s opium enslavement during the West’s imperial century of humiliation, 1839-1949. However, that sordid fact is forgotten in the minds of most Chinese, although they will tell you right away about Great Britain’s and the United States’ dastardly role in China before 1949’s communist liberation.

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Jeff Brown

Jeff grew up in the heartland of the United States, Oklahoma, much of it on a family farm, and graduated from Oklahoma State University. He went to Brazil while in graduate school at Purdue University, to seek his fortune, which whet his appetite for traveling the globe. This helped inspire him to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia in 1980 and he lived and worked in Africa, the Middle East, China and Europe for the next 21 years. All the while, he mastered Portuguese, Arabic, French and Mandarin, while traveling to over 85 countries. He then returned to America for nine years, whereupon he moved back to China in 2010. He lives in China with his wife, where he teaches passionately in an international school. Jeff is a dual national French-American.