In a gloomy take on the future of Turkey, published in the FT, Cengiz Aktar wrote that henceforth the only sources of satisfaction for his fellow countrymen would be triumphs on the football field. Alas, even that was denied them last night.
Everybody I have spoken to – as well as the TV panel – agreed that Turkey played much better than Germany and deserved to win. I like to think that this pro-Turk bias reflected what happened on the pitch and the traditional British preference for the underdog – rather than the equally traditional British antipathy towards Germany.
The game was enthralling. But the moment I most enjoyed was when the cameras cut away to the stands, after Germany had scored. Chancellor Angela Merkel was on her feet cheering. But next to her, Michel Platini, the head of UEFA, looked like he was going to throw up. Perhaps Platini was having a flash-back to the two semi-finals that France lost to Germany in the World Cups of 1982 and 1986. He played in both games and in the 1982 match, in particular, France had totally outplayed Germany. Bitter memories.
Still, I think Aktar is too gloomy in thinking that only football can provide emotional satisfaction for Turks. He is forgetting the shock Turkish victory in the Prospect magazine poll of global intellectuals.