Is the Euro 2016 final an Afcon final in disguise?
Between the hosts and their Iberian adversaries, there are 17 different players of African descent. Migration, globalization and other socio-economic factors have led to a cross-pollination across the Mediterranean, and whichever team wins will owe it to a strong African influence. Across the continent, while Christianity and Islam are the major belief systems, there remains an innate, almost preternatural belief in the sentience and omnipotence of ancestors. Sport may be a wholly man-made endeavor, but its principal actors also evince their own superstitions—if N'Golo Kante, for whom the last year has been a Cinderella-style fairytale, were to mutter a prayer up to the heavens, there would likely be some surprise as to the timing. The Africa Cup of Nations, eschewing the long pause, is held every two years, as opposed to four like the Euros. Even then, it was only last year that the council of African footballing ancestors held court and decided Ivory Coast had, through repeated disappointment and suffering, finally learnt humility. To be summoned once more in arbitration between two bands of Cushite brethren would almost be too difficult to undertake. Indeed, one wonders just what would be the selection criteria. What cosmic logic would come into effect to decide this outcome? After all, even across the halfway line, there are kin.