“When a friend succeeds, something in me dies” -Gore Vidal

by Habib Khan, Quetta: Last week, fans of the Tottenham Hotspur football Club in England supported their opponents, the Manchester City, and wanted City to win.

This was because, in the event of a Tottenham win or a draw, their (Tottenham’s) West London neighbor, Arsenal, would win the Premier League –after a gap of 20 years.

One fan was even quoted as saying, “I would rather sell my mum than see Arsenal win the title.”

If anyone thinks this tribal nature of football is limited to English clubs due to their football madness, they may be totally mistaken.

Almost two decades ago, while traveling (or relaxing) on a boat-bus in the canals of the Italian city of Venice, I noticed a graffiti on a bridge, as the boat passed under it: “Grazie Liverpool” (Thank you Liverpool). I took a picture of it but couldn’t understand the purpose until later, when I realized that the Liverpool Football Club of England had defeated AC Milan, a football club from Italy–in a historic match in Istanbul. It ended the three year reign of Milan on the European Championship.

So, the people of Venice (or at least some of them) were happy that their neighbour had lost, never mind if the far off English Club had won it, instead.

“Is this tribal madness limited to football? Or do we genuinely and generally hate our neighbors or friends (when a friend succeeds, something in me dies -Gore Vidal) and want them to lose, no matter how deserving they may be to a win?

In my professional experience, during the annual performance reviews, an employee would be happy or satisfied only when they received a better grade or a raise in salary than their partner or peer, even if the overall outcome for everyone is lower.

And this dissatisfaction may not be limited to workers or technicians only; managers may also feel this way, but they do not openly express their dissatisfaction in competition with peers.

Is it the culture of cutthroat competition born out of capitalism that makes us hate our neighbors and friends? Or is it that millions of years of evolution have wired our brains in such a manner, and envy is a built-in product of evolution.

The culture (vulture) on the other hand has made us fight against this evolutionary envy by telling us that well, then (in the time of hunters and gatherers) it was a matter of survival and hence necessary, but today, if a peer would get a better raise at least he would take nothing away from me? and that whether Arsenal wins or City, Tottenham will still stay in the 5th place.