French dump foot losers for hand heartthrobs
The French people’s holy union with the national football squad has fallen on hard times. Unsatisfied by Les Bleus' timid performance during the World Cup qualification games and then feeling utterly betrayed by the footballers' meltdown during the big party, French sports fans have been vulnerable and on the rebound. Fuss! It seems they have found the thrills they’ve been missing in the bulging forearms of the country’s wacky handballers.
In their overblown sense of self-importance the French don’t realize that handball is a sport that is taken seriously in about eight other countries worldwide. But in matters of the heart, ignorance is bliss, and the French have struck up a fresh love affair.
To their credit, the national handball team (self-dubbed “the experts”), has been dominating their limited sports landscape like the Iroquois Indians of North America once dominated lacrosse.
On January 30 the handballers won the world championship after beating Denmark 37-35. It was their fourth consecutive major world title: France’s handball squad took the Olympic gold in 2008, won the world title in 2009 and the European championships in 2010.
Today in France you’d be hard pressed to find a brand or business willing to pin its image to that of a footballer, much less the national football team. In contrast, the very French soft-drink Orangina is riding on handball’s popularity to sell its tangy, bubbly soda.
The odd anthropoid kangaroo is part of an ongoing publicity campaign launched by Orangina, but I can’t see why it’s appropriate here. Anyway, if you need further proof of the new romance with handball, here is the obligatory highlight reel edited to tune of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” (Mr. Mercury starts in around minute 2:40)