08/06/2006

The return of the "principe melange"

Benno Maggi explains why and how Switzerland will win the World Cup

Wrapped up in World Cup fever, Folio magazine of the Neue Zürchner Zeitung commissioned a whole string of authors to elucidate on their respective teams' chances of victory. Read Rodrigo Fresan on Argentina, Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro on Brazil, Andrew Anthony on England, Herve Le Teiller on France and Robert Gernhardt on Germany, Leon de Winter on The Netherlands, and Guillem Martinez for Spain. And now Benno Maggi tells who the real winner will be...

On Sunday, July 9, 2006, at 10:18 pm, the final penalty battle will have been fought and a new calendar will start in Swiss sport. The first sign of this emerged four years ago on a warm Sunday in Farum in Denmark when a bunch of chubby-cheeked boys at the Under 17 European championships humiliated their idols, the French team, in a penalty shoot-out. The score was 4:2. And 4:2 it will be again in Berlin. There will be no Swen König standing in the goal to fend off the Brazilian penalty kicks. But that won't be necessary – the stars in yellow will kick the ball up to God in heaven.

On July 9, the Swiss will become football world champions. Gone are the days when the dream of qualifying for a tournament of the greats was destroyed 30 seconds after kick off by an own goal. The young men are no longer called Lüdi, Elsener or Herrmann but Cabanas, Behrami and Senderos. "Je t'aime maman" was written on one of the Under 17's shirts, which he promptly removed after shooting the winning goal. An unmistakable expression of gratitude from a generation to their parents who had sacrificed themselves for their kids. A thank you for all the hours of waiting on the edge of the pitch, in front of shabby changing room doors and rainy car parks, until their sons, drunk on victory and freshly showered with grossly oversized bags, climbed into their parents' grossly oversized cars and stuffed themselves with copious amounts of hot dogs and bananas.

"Le principe melange" which was applied in 1998 in France will triumph a second time in world football. At the time Zidane, Henry and Lizarazu were brandished as examples of the successful integration of French immigrant children.

On Sunday, July 9, 2006, at 10.17 pm, Philippe Senderos, the son of a Serbian mother and a Spanish father, will take the ball and pelt it in. Even harder than the Dutchman Johan Neeskens did at the World Cup final in 1974 in Munich. And afterwards he will talk to the world in French, Spanish, Serbo-Croatian, English and German, while at home in Switzerland, Serbs, Croatians, Bosnians, Macedonians, Kosovars, Albanians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, South Americans, Africans, Asians, Swiss French, Swiss Germans, Ticinians and even Turks will be celebrating.

*

This article forms part of compilation of writings originally published in the Neue Zürchner Zeitung magazine Folio, on May 2, 2006.

Benno Maggi is art director and image editor of NZZ's Folio magazine.

Translation: nb.

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