Ferdinand Vanek Award 2017 > Football in Czechia
Tomáš Kafka

Football in Czechia

Tomáš Kafka


In a shabby mediocre pub in Prague two middle-aged men (in the text called only A and B) meet regularly to drink beer and to assess the surrounding reality by their own criteria. This examination might have looked differently or intimate depths might have been inspected, were it not for the phenomenon of football, their common love and addiction. Football functions as a metaphor of today’s world and also a tool for its better understanding. It is thus possible to feel that even in a beer pub in Prague you are in the centre of current events, despite the fact that the results – both of football and existence – are nothing special.
In the first scene, one of the friends comes up with a suggestion that the new goal of Czech football endeavour, which is in similar decline as Czech politics, could be to make the Czech Football Association obtain the right for the Czech team to play against the opponents only with ten players. In this case, all the losses would be not only predictable, but also heroic. To lose against predominance is no shame. Actually, it is one of the myths Czech society likes to comfort itself with in the state of distress.
The problem, as it seems from the second pub debate, is not so much the fact that the Czech teams are losing, but that probably nothing is happing at all. There is almost nothing to comment on. Existential fears might definitely replace the football fears. The so-called word football, a well-known Czech children’s game for practicing active vocabulary, seems to offer the only temporary escape.
After the third visit of the pub, a miracle happens. All of a sudden, Zlatan Ibrahimović, an international football star, enters the pub. The excitement of both friends, A and B, does not last long. After a while it turns out that it is only a double, a work of plastic surgery. On top of everything, the double did not want to look like Zlatan, but like David Gahan from Depeche Mode. A and B would like to know what life is like when you look like Ibrahimović. To learn this, they would have to pay. But to pay for such information in a Czech pub seems too binding. Finally, the Czech Zlatan makes a selfie of himself. Well, Czechia.