The gods are not mocked

At the end of normal playing time, the match was level 1-1. Since neither team scored in extra time, the drama was resolved through penalties. Shortly before the ordeal for the Spanish and Irish players began, the television camera focused on a few Irish supporters dressed in their national colors who were crossing themselves with their eyes fixed on the skies. Judging by the outcome (the Irish team failed with three penalties and were knocked out of the World Cup), one could say that either God failed to listen to their prayers, or that God actually listened to them but chose not to answer them. There is also a third possibility, that the skies decided to protect the Spanish, deeming that crossing oneself is less of an indication of deep faith than the kissing of a paper icon kept in the wallet of Spanish coach Jose Antonio Camacho. Some will most likely dismiss these lines – rather than what occurs on the field – as blasphemous. Hence, it’s worth noting, once again, that this kind of worship constitutes a deep offense to religions and, at the same time, reveals (live across the world, what is more) the defeat of the human spirit. We brag about our elevated culture and the freedoms we have won, but we remain steeped in childish superstition, resorting to another, stronger, opium-like compound to overcome the side effects of the first one. We, as enlightened Westerners, have an easy explanation for the mystery: We mock Africans and Latin Americans for resorting to black magic and voodoo while we see as a sign of high spirituality and religious piety the action of Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni, who resorts to a bottle of holy water, given to him by his sister, a nun. Next to such primitiveness, Greece’s superstitious and religious coaches seem masters of reason.