Being Dutch in London during the World Cup was fantastic as most people switched their support to the Orange underdog in the lead up to the finals. All of Soho joined the orange street party the night of the semi finals. Coming into the office the day after, colleagues were patting me on the back, saying ‘Well done!’ as if I’d won a major piece of work. I felt so proud of my small country of 16 million people that I couldn’t take a smile off my face. It felt like being in love on a spring day. Benign nationalism – what a drug!
But it all ended in tears and a kung fu kick. The tabloids damned us. No congratulations or even consolations this time. Instead, endless tirades about our shameless football style that had deprived the world from the finals that it deserved. And besides, the Spanish deserved to win. Even The Guardian wrote: “It would have been better for Holland’s reputation had they lost earlier instead of tying themselves to this notoriety.” After spending 116 nerve-racking minutes in a sweltering Chelsea pub filled to the brim with Dutch anxiety, this felt like a slap in the face.
I felt the anger of a wronged people boiling up in me. Surely, kung fu kicks aside, we were fighting till the end and the Spanish weren’t the better team because they didn’t score either until the end?? Surely if Robben had scored the tabloids would have raved about the Dutch underdog finally taking that Cup? I’d really like to see the drafts of articles written to celebrate the Dutch victory.
Luckily by now when thinking back I don’t feel the hurt so much anymore. I do still feel the exhilarating sense of pride for my small country, even stronger when living abroad in a big city full of people from all those other countries we left behind. It’s nice, being a girl and liking football…