AMSTERDAM – Der verstorbene Arthur Koestler, der in Budapest geboren wurde, in vielen Ländern zu Hause war und in mehreren Sprachen schrieb, sagte einmal, es gebe einen Nationalismus und einen Fußballnationalismus. Die Gefühle, die letzterer hervorruft, sind bei weitem stärker. Koestler selbst, ein stolzer und loyaler britischer Staatsbürger, blieb sein Leben lang ein ungarischer Fußballnationalist.

Es ist schwer für Amerikaner, deren „World Series“ im Wesentlichen auf die Vereinigten Staaten beschränkt sind, die Emotionen zu verstehen, die bei europäischen Bürgern ausgelöst werden, wenn ihre Nationen alle vier Jahre um die Europameisterschaft kämpfen. In diesem Sommer waren die Stadien in Österreich und der Schweiz, ganz zu schweigen von den Straßen der europäischen Hauptstädte von Madrid bis Moskau, mehrere Wochen lang an eine Orgie des Patriotismus mit Fahnenschwenken, Hymnensingen und Trommelschlagen hingegeben. Spaniens Sieg war einer der seltenen Anlässe, zu dem die Katalanen, Kastilier, Basken und Andalusier zusammen in eine Explosion der patriotischen Freude ausbrachen.

Mehr als die meisten anderen Sportarten, bietet sich Fußball für „Stammesgefühle“ an: kollektive Anstrengung, Mannschaftsfarben, Geschwindigkeit und körperliche Aggression. Ein berühmter niederländischer Fußballtrainer sagte einmal – und zwar nicht im Scherz: „Fußball ist Krieg.“

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