2016 was a year of very surprising world events and achievements that left some hearts aching and mouths gaping. The Leicester and Feyenoord championship, Icelandic miracle, Trump and Brexit, Phelps and Biles. But for me, the moment that stood out most was Portugal’s victory against France in the finals of Euro 2016.
Portugal had literally stumbled to the finals and were overwhelming underdogs on the night. The game had a very cagy start with France doing most of the attacking. Then something happened; Payet lounged in on Ronaldo who then fell and couldn’t continue. Then followed the image of Ronaldo sitting in the middle of the pitch in tears and then the moth landed on his face.
The moth is representative of all that is gloom. The symbolism of the animal and the undeniable impact of Ronaldo on the team and their overall gameplay immediately struck a chord on the minds of all concerned neutral football fans. Everybody expected France to walk all over Portugal considering the fact that Ronaldo was almost irreplaceable in the squad. On came Eder. You could hear the whole fan zone of the Portuguese sigh in despair. Heads were hanging low and Portuguese faces lost their glow. The moth had landed on the faces of the whole country.
Towards the end of the game, Eder, the black sheep, struck a weak shot in the direction of the goalie. . . and scored. The entire football world stood still. Another miracle of 2016 was unfolding before our very eyes. All the experts were flipping through their pages trying to make sense of this. There was bedlam in pubs where Portugal’s supporters gathered in hope of a miracle.
It was then that it dawned on me in a painful way. I came to the realization that sometimes in an attempt to make sense of the human predicament and in an attempt to answer the ultimate question of existence, we mistake different symbolism for what they are not. This is usually as a result of the high propensity of the human mind to cling on to the various superstitions as a means to an end, which in this case might be interpreting the present or possibly predicting the future.
As soon as I saw the moth, I opened a bracket of gloom, added the strength of the French players, subtracted the impact of Ronaldo, multiplied the home advantage for France and divided the chances of Portugal by the impact of Eder. The result was complete football annihilation waiting to happen. But I was proved wrong once again as these things often turn out.
The fact that you are stranded in the desert does not necessary mean you will die of thirst tomorrow. The fact that you saw a bottle of water or an oasis in the desert does not mean that you will survive the desert. A sign might be a coincidence or an excluded event without any relation to the prevalent chain of events. A moth to one is a butterfly to some. You have to continue moving even when the signs and the times are against you. The truth, as they say, is in the okro soup.