This was going to be a beat-by-beat breakdown of the World Cup, but it ended up being about how awesome Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is.
Let me set the scene for those who didn’t get to watch it.
The World Cup Final was France vs Croatia.
France is a better team, in general. Better players, much more talent.
But the World Cup Final match begins and guess what? Croatia plays better. Someone forgot to memo the Croatian players that they were supposed to get their butts kicked, because instead they came out on fire, dominating the first 55 minutes of play, and showing the kind of heart that usually makes champions.
But France wins anyway. They’re just so, so good.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the French team. My kids were wearing Team France jerseys, and the side was exciting and dynamic. But, man, just watching that game, your heart bleeds for the Croatians. They played with fire and passion and fought and scrapped for every ball. They never stopped running. They challenged everything. And here’s the Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, rooting for them like crazy.
Look at her here when Croatia scored:
That’s full extension, friends! That’s like Edna Mode yelling win!
Team Croatia gave every ounce of their energy in pursuit of soccer’s most coveted prize, but it was not to be.
So the game is over, France wins 4-2 in a game that was slightly overcast and experienced some light rain showers.
Now the players on both teams are down on the field, waiting for what seemed like forever for stages to be set up and various dicknitaries like Russian ‘President’ Meddles McFuckstain and FIFA president Bribes McPenis to walk their corrupt asses down to the field. In the meantime, the French players heave coach Didier Deschamps into the air.
So finally, the dignitaries form a line. You’ve got Gianni Infantino and Putin and then French President Emmanuel Macron and after him Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. KGK to her friends. Or maybe K-dawg. Probably. I’m saying she’s nickname-worthy because she kicks ass.
She’s also the only one wearing her team’s kit.
You can tell a lot about a person by how they interact with others, and even more by the choices they make when they think no one is looking. Like, for example, how she flew to Russia in coach, paid for with her own money.
(Note: She got in hot water as the Croatian Ambassador to the United States years ago when her husband was videotaped in Washington using an official embassy vehicle. She ended up reimbursing the cost, but I’m guessing she decided that she was never going to deal with that bullshit again.)
Husbands! Amirite, ladies?
She’s the first woman to hold the office of Croatian President.
And the youngest person to be post-independence head-of-state in Croatia.
She’s the first European woman to defeat an incumbent male president running for re-election.
She’s fluent in Croatian, English, Spanish and Portuguese, and also understands German, French and Italian.
She was a Fulbright Scholar at George Washington University, received a Luksic Fellowship at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and was a visiting scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
And all that is well and good. It shows that she has a resume. Now, I’m sure some of our Croat friends will hop into the comments section to remind us that she’s a conservative and tell us to just slowwwwww the love train down. But it’s hard to! Because here’s what happened next.
They began to present the individual awards. French 19 year old Superstar Kylian Mbappe, whom I’ve written about in every World Cup piece for Pajiba, won the young player award.
He’s rapidly become one of the best players in the world, and scared the everliving bejesus out of defenders.
Harry Kane from England won the Golden Boot as the Cup’s high scorer. This has to be the most un-Harry-Kane-like picture I’ve ever seen of him. It looks like he’s saying
FUCK YEAHHHH I’m the Golden Boot winner! Kiss my ass, losers! Yeahhhhh!
I don’t know who dosed Harry Kane for this picture but I assure you that when he gets the real trophy he’ll smile politely and give a boyish nod.
Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois won the Golden Glove award for the Cup’s best Goalie. He made some jaw-dropping saves. If this goalie thing doesn’t work out he’d make a pretty good daytime soap star. Maybe a visiting doctor with shady past and an old score to settle? Mmmmm. Those eyebrows say: danger. Sexy, sexy danger.
And then we came to the Golden Ball award for the Tournament MVP. This could have easily gone to a number of players, Eden Hazard for Belgium (who won the silver ball for second place) or France’s clutch-as-the-day-is-long Antoine Griezmann (third place). But they awarded it to Croatia’s Luka Modric, a player who outworks everyone and sets all of his teammates up for success. He’s gifted, versatile and selfless. And he never, ever, ever stops running. Modric has two speeds: sprinting and sleeping. That’s it.
So this fierce competitor who, minutes before, (despite all the effort and heart in the world), just lost the world cup, has to go and accept the MVP trophy.
And his face doesn’t move.
He doesn’t care.
FIFA is like “Hey you’re the best player in the world right now!”
And Luka Modric is like “GIVE. A. FUCK.”
Luka Modric is a man who knows that he’ll probably never get this close again. That chance and dumb fucking luck and the cruel whimsy of an inflatable bladder have taken the Cup from his team. And guess who else knows that? His president.
He’s still in shock.
So she just holds him. She pulls him in and holds him and fights back tears as she does so. These aren’t crazy John Boehner insanity tears either. She really gets it. Her team came up short. It’s brutal.
But they both have a job to do. So the entire Croatian team marches past and they all get second place medals and KGK looks every single one of them in the eye and gives them a hug. A real hug. Not some perfunctory bullshit. She hugs each and every one of them like most of us hug family.
About that time, the sky opens.
The gods, it seems, are as upset as Croatia is. Rain is pouting down. People start building arks. It’s a monsoon as the players file past.
Botoxed Dickweasel immediately has an umbrella over him, but everyone else is getting soaked to the bone.
And I’m yelling at the screen because —and forgive me because I know this is going to sound sexist at first blush — but I’m like PUT THE UMBRELLA OVER THE WOMAN YOU ASSHOLES!!
It’s not gender politics. It’s basic hair economics.
Vladimir Putin’s hair takes 0 minutes to “do.” He has no hair.
Neither does Gianni Infantino. None.
Emmanuel Macron? Okay he has a little, but nothing a quick combing and a dab of Dapper Dan pomade wouldn’t handle. Say 4 minutes.
But K-dawg? Baby, that head of flaxen beauty takes time.
You can see it there as she’s holding Luka Modric’s head like it’s her precious. That hair is blow-dried at the very least. There’s some curls at the bottom and definitely product. I’m going to say minimum 20 minutes. But probably double that. Maybe much more. But more than four. Or zero.
But like the congressional panels on women’s fertility, the umbrella holders are all men. And none of them think to HOOK A SISTER UP.
Just look at Macron’s suit in the picture below. He looks like he just stepped out of a pool. And I don’t know what the burgundy flight attendants are doing in the back there, but they can’t tap someone on the shoulder and go: Yo! Help my girl out!
But no. Water pours from the sky and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic just handles it even though she’s wearing WHITE PANTS. Her hair gets soaked and matted down, she gets drenched, but she just tucks it behind and ear and makes the best of it. Sorted.
And every player that goes past her, French and Croat alike, she looks them in the eye and hugs them. Every last one.
Now I don’t know if KGK is as warm and loving and blissfully down to earth and human as she appeared or if she’s a brilliant manipulator when the eyes of the world are on her, but watching her there I had real president envy. She seemed legit.
It made me wish America had a leader with intelligence and basic human kindness and compassion.
It made me wish America had a self-made person who values education and who would look at us with those big, caring eyes and tell us that everything was going to be alright.
It made me wish America had a mom.