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Thompson: Ronaldo and his father

Euro 2016

The summer of European discontent

Fan unrest at Euro 2016 only hinted at far more troubling signs in Europe and the world around it.

PARIS -- The European Championship ended Sunday, with Portugal beating France in the same Saint-Denis stadium terrorists attacked in November. This tournament was played inside a heavily fortified perimeter, with thousands of cops and soldiers, and because of their hard work and vigilance, nothing happened. Some English fans acted like morons, and some Russian fans acted like Rambo, and there were incidents here and there, but mostly, everything was contained by the temporary French police state....

Welcome to cafe Miranda, Cristiano Ronaldo's refuge in Madrid

POZUELO DE ALARCON, Spain -- The morning regulars at Cafeteria Miranda rolled through the door: construction workers, a crew of painters and a guy in an ill-fitting suit. They ordered coffee with milk, served hot in short glasses, and some ate toast with thin-sliced tomatoes. Two guys drank beer with their breakfast of cheese bread. These weren't the fancy people who own houses around the corner in Madrid's richest gated community, La Finca, an oasis of heavily watered lawns and swimming pools,...

Euro allowed us to see Icelanders as they see themselves

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- These past few days in Iceland have been unforgettable for people like me lucky enough to be here as the game approached, and especially for the Icelanders of all ages who will tell stories about this summer for many years to come. People have just been so happy. The past two days, the streets of the capital were filled with people past 5 a.m., the sun never setting at all. On Saturday night, American indie rock bands Angel Olsen and Thee Oh Sees brought a packed...

Iceland is so hot right now

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- The coolest band from Iceland, Sigur Rós, has been on tour during most of the European Championships. The bass player intentionally missed the bus after a gig one night to watch the end of a game, catching up by train in the next city. Even frontman Jónsi Birgisson, who previously could not care less about soccer, caught the fever, like everyone in the country. When a leg of the tour ended the night before Iceland's last game against England, Jónsi flew into...

Black, pink and read all over Italy: La Gazzetta tracks the pulse of sport

Reading La Gazzetta dello Sport has become a morning ritual for Italian football fans.
Reading La Gazzetta dello Sport has become a morning ritual for Italian football fans.

MILAN -- This morning, in cafés across Italy, people of all ages are doing the same thing: ordering an espresso, Caffe Si brand more than likely, then spreading out the pink-colored pages of La Gazzetta dello Sport and reading every last nuance about Saturday's Italy-Germany quarterfinal match. The thin pages crinkle when they're flipped, a pleasing sound, and the big, brash headlines help set the daily terms of debate in a country obsessed with arguing about football as much as watching...

The boy who lived for football and died for hate

Abou Omar Brams, right, grew up with a deep love of soccer before radicalizing, and dying, in Syria.

MOLENBEEK, Belgium -- Not long ago, I met a grieving mother so she could tell me about her dead terrorist son. This can be a strange job sometimes, and few moments have been stranger than sitting on a quiet Sunday morning, a little rain falling outside, talking to Geraldine Henneghien. The neighborhood around us, known in Europe as the breeding ground for radical Islam, looked quiet and even quaint.

Abou Omar Brams had curly hair. He hung a poster of New York City on his wall, dreaming of going...