The Germans have a word for it … sometimes a very long one.
Schadenfreude is shorter, however. Malicious joy in the misfortunes of others, eh.
There are even scholarly links to Schadenfreude and soccer, for example Malicious pleasure: Schadenfreude at the suffering of another group appeared in Vol. 84 No. 5 of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2003.
Two studies examined intergroup schadenfreude: malicious pleasure at an out-group’s misfortune. Study 1 showed that schadenfreude regarding a German loss in soccer was increased by interest in soccer and threats of Dutch inferiority.
Hard to say how inferior the Dutch felt in the 1974 World Cup final when they famously went a goal up before the Germans even touched the ball. OK, they did go on to lose. National stereotype number one: the Germans almost always win in the end.
This morning I got to wondering whether Marco Reus experienced any frisson of joy from the damage he inflicted around 20.17 on Friday evening last. Perhaps just a slight twinge rather than full-blown Schadenfreude? There was a sense of inevitability when he scored just minutes after he had what would appear to be a legitimate claim for a penalty denied. To compound his grievance, he got a yellow card for his troubles.
Was it just me who found it mildly distasteful that every time he touched the ball after the non-penalty-incident-with-distinct-tugging-in-the-Irish-box a very discernible chorus of boos could be heard? Supremely unsporting. Not what one wants to hear. That apart, I also thought it was tempting fate. Bad karma, man.
Then the lad done what the lad has done all season – stuck it in the back of the net. Twice. In six minutes. Game over, as they say. No more boos after that.
Krank wie ein Papagei, as they are wont to mutter into their beer in Dortmund.
Arabic has a word for it too: nadir (from Arabic: نظير / ALA-LC: naẓīr; meaning ‘opposite’). This was one.
The zenith for me was on 30 October 1974, when Liam Brady, at 18, made his debut for Ireland during the qualifying campaign for the 1976 European Football Championship, in a 3–0 win over the Soviet Union, when it really was the Soviet Union – all fifteen republics-worth.
Like the GPO in 1916, I was there. No, really, I was there.
I interrogated the database for the detail. ‘DEVLIN, S., 1974. Supremo Giles is the Architect of Victory. Dublin, Ireland: Oct 31, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Irish Times (1859–2011) and The Weekly Irish Times (1876–1958)’.
In October 1974 I was a second-year science student at UCD – probably skipping a Chemistry practical for the three o’clock kick-off.
Despite the high of that sublime afternoon – Brady, Giles and a Givens hat-trick – we did not qualify in 1976, losing out narrowly to the Soviet Union in the end, despite the Dalymount trouncing.
Lem, who slept in the bath in my insalubrious bedsit in Oxford Road around this same time, told me he played in the same St Kevin’s youth team as Brady. He claimed to be the more talented of the pair. Lem’s real name is long forgotten in the mists of time, so there is no database to verify that particular claim. Talent alone, however, is seldom enough. Lem did not have the persistence for a life at the top; I mean he only lasted less than a week in the bath. I do hope he found redemption in the end.
Despite all their talent, the class of 1974 did not make it to the finals in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. While I would be delighted to be proved wrong, I do not expect to see the current crop in Brazil in 2016. Uma grande pena.
Redemption, though, can never be ruled out, only goals for offside.
In case the foregoing proved all too dispiriting, here is some cerebral comedy from Monty Python.
Marx claimed it was offside @ 3.11. Sheer class!
Still, a great header at the back stick by the boy Socrates.