It’s been noticed over and over by a number of Lebanese resources (here, here and here, for example) that Lebanon is/has been suffering from an uncommon campaign of hooliganery perpetrated by overzealous fans – mostly among the country’s youth. A lot of folks have been wondering why they have been causing such a ruckus, but far more just don’t seem to give a damn, and are in fact perfectly happy to contribute to the noise that keeps certain bloggers awake at night. I can understand the excitement (to an extent) in Zahle, where half of the city’s population has probably lived in Brazil at one point. Yet even when Brazil was ousted by Holland there was still gunfire in the surrounding hills. What gives?Do you think you'll be stronger when you grow up?

Well, the Cup is over – Spain won. The Beqaa valley hasn’t been sporting too many Spanish flags, but there was still palpable excitement for the game last night. I didn’t watch because I didn’t need to – I could tell what was happening based on the noise drifting up the hills from the city to my apartment. This begs the question – what now?

Beirut Spring makes a point that reminds me a lot of something my father mentioned when I visited him in Beirut the other day. He said (and I agree) that for the most part, the fanaticism of Lebanese young people can be attributed to a lack of alternatives: right now, outside of the starkly sectarian and volatile political arena, there is little that Lebanese youth can do to express excitement and energy (which the Bridgebuilders from ASO are working to fix – check it out). The country is not producing enough fun, enough jobs, enough opportunities for young people to apply their energies healthily, and so the Cup was a perfect opportunity: an event that Lebanese can gather around regardless of sectarian affiliation (though some feel differently). So it makes sense when you think about it from a sociological standpoint that people who are fed-up with sectarianism, finally presented with something fun and relatively apolitical for a change, are taking it as far as it will go.

But as we’ve noted, it’s already finished. The pressure-valve for the youth of Lebanon has been sealed again, and it seems only more obvious that there is not much to take its place. The fun-starved of Lebanon, especially the lower-classes, must now return to the gray realities of political life. The World Cup song, “Wavin’ Flag,” is about growing up, growing stronger, grabbing after freedom whatever the cost. Is that message possible in today’s Lebanon?

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