Laurent Dubois is the Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke, where he also direct the Forum for Scholars & Publics. His most recent book is The Language of the Game: How to Understand Soccer (2018). (June 2018)

Follow Laurent Dubois on Twitter: @Soccerpolitics.

NYR DAILY

World Cup 2018: How Belgium Became Cool

Belgian player Christian Benteke at a press conference before the final selection for the World Cup squad, Tubize, Belgium, May 24, 2018

National team managers of earlier generations made sure to have a balance of Walloon and Flemish players on the squad. Fans of today’s more diverse team find workarounds to the basic French-Flemish linguistic problem by chanting in English or just humming the tune of Verdi’s “Triumphal March.” The Belgium it embodies is youthful and global; at its best, it is promising, cohesive, and joyous.