A summer of discontent

So, it turns out I wasn’t wrong after all. After that match against Spain it looked like the Yugoslav team, contrary to what I wrote here a few weeks ago, actually had a chance of achieving something at Euro 2000.

But then he thing that every member of the squad dreaded happened – they got a good, clean and honest referee. To quote a compatriot’s message from Eurosport: “Holland were lucky we had 11 players”.

No red cards, no players leaving the field covered in blood, and no fans jumping into it to take a few swings at the ref. The team that played against the Dutch was the good old (emphasis on old) Yugoslavia all of us here know. Slow, dull, unimaginative… No, wait, ‘unimaginative’ is a too big word to waste on such a team. ‘Crap’ is more like it. I could now start dissecting players in the team and tell you what was wrong with every single one of them, including the ex top scorer Savo Milosevic, but I can’t see where that would lead. They were, are, bad. Period.

And it’s not just the team. It’s the whole bloody Yugoslav Football Federation. “Well, at least we got a goal”, was their first official statement. Then they just republished their old excuses list left from the last World Cup. “They were too tired” (And the Dutch had more time for rest?), “Some players were injured, some had red cards” (Umm… isn’t it your job to find good substitutes?), “They were cautious not to get booked too many times” (For all I care, have only four players on the team, just score some damn goals and don’t receive six of them in return), “Well, it’s no big deal. Denmark, France and the Czechs also lost” (The worst team of the cup on one side, a team of substitutes on the other, and I don’t remember anyone in the cup so far getting six goals in a single game).

Radio Television of Serbia, of course, put a whole new spin on the situation. The Yugoslav team let in six goals while scoring only one and have massive fines to pay to UEFA for not so professional conduct of both the players and the fans, so the first question asked is by the RTS reporter is, naturally, whether the players felt “politically intimidated” while in Holland.

Will they sack the coach or will he resign? Will only Milosevic
stay or will they also keep Drulovic? Will Kralj, the goalkeeper, commit suicide or will somebody shoot him? How about some real questions here?

But I’m being too optimistic. Digging old coach Boskov out of his grave was too much trouble to just bury him back now. The players are maybe not the best this country has, but they are both more paid and better at sucking up to the government than the really good ones.

Red Star’s defence, Partisan’s attackers, Milosevic and Drulovic leading the team – that’s what I call a Yugoslav squad. Not some over-priced Socialist party jerks who mistakenly went into football instead of diving, which they’re much better at.
Actually, things aren’t so bad. Not many people outside of Yugoslavia will realise just how bad our team is. They’ll just think we burned out. And, unlike the English, we still have plenty of sports we’re great at.

Basketball, to name one. Or volleyball. Handball even. In all three of those e’re somewhere around top three in the world, and for a country of only a little over 10 million people that’s not so bad. Of course, with the Olympics on their way, there’ll certainly be something worth cheering about.

And in the mean time, I’m screwed. Euro 2000 is practically over, the aforementioned Olympic Games aren’t until September, and as for my holiday plans… well, I have none. And that’s something that pisses me off even more than Boskov’s statement that Yugoslavia weren’t all that bad against Holland.

My brother, who is, in a word, an ass, gets 20 full days in Italy practically for free. And I, having spent most of my life living with that… thing (I’m sure anyone with an older brother well understand), get the sympathy of everyone around me for not having enough money to get me a visa and an aeroplane ticket to Estonia, where I’d have the same free deal my brother got in Italy.

I know it doesn’t sound so hot, Estonia, but why the hell not? Right now Eritrea is a better option than staying here, with 35 degrees in the shade and a 9.5 UV index. And to think I could have made good money on the “Who’ll be next?” sweepstakes we have here, if only Slobba’s people had done a better job with the assassination attempt on Vuk Draskovic. Well, better luck next time I guess. This will be one long summer.