The Irish fans who sported that message on their flag going to the tournament created an image that went viral, capturing something vital about the Euro 2012 tournament being staged at a moment of eurozone meltdown. The Irish simply couldn’t compete on the field. Nor could the Greeks, when given an opportunity to put one over the Germans. The image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, viewed by many Greeks as their tormentor-in-chief by virtue of her insistence on strict austerity policies, celebrating her team’s trouncing of Greece will likely have stuck in the craw of many watching the game back in Athens.
Football, of course, offers at best a symbolic reversal of the power balance, and even then can hardly be relied on to do so when the opponent is a brilliant German team. Still, perhaps the most beautiful moment of the tournament came when the Irish serenaded their battered heroes for the last 10 minutes of a thrashing at the hands of Spain with a haunting rendition of “Fields of Athenry,” a dirge of suffering and despair and an eternal flame of hope
And, of course, Spain, Portugal and Italy are all still in the race to give debt-strapped southern Europe a strong chance of getting the last laugh on Frau Merkel.