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September 23, 2017

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Freud joins soccer balls and red cards at Polish caricature show

WARSAW--A museum in Warsaw is hoping culture will lift the spirits of disappointed soccer fans who might ordinarily have drowned their sorrows at the bar, as the first teams from Euro 2012 prepare to pack up and head home.

"They can cheer up a little and dry their tears by stopping by our exhibition," said Zygmunt Zaradkiewicz, director of The Museum of Caricature in the Polish capital, where light-hearted soccer-themed sketches are on display until September.

The two-room "The Ball is in Play" show includes some 160 colorful caricatures chosen from more than 1,200 submissions from across the globe.

"In contrast to Euro 2012, we have the 2012 World Cup here, since the whole world took part in our exhibit," said Zaradkiewicz, rattling off some of the 40-plus countries participating, from Australia and Austria to Syria and Brazil.

"It was only from places where grass doesn't grow, so, the two poles, that we didn't receive submissions," he added.

The exhibition is a true reflection of the world game, its appeal, common language and issues, with themes tackled including questionable refereeing, soccer brutality and money as well as straight, slapstick humor.

"But we didn't just want the kind of scenes where someone slips on a banana peel and everyone roars with laughter. We wanted to also include drawings that show the crucial role football plays in people's lives," Zaradkiewicz said.

The 10,000-zloty (US$3,000) Grand Prize went to Pole Krzysztof Grzondziel, who drew a soccer player's entire family — pregnant wife, young son, baby in the stroller — begging the referee to take back the red card.

Grzondiel's other work showed two sets of soccer boot studs morphing into wild animals, ready to tear up the ball with their fangs.

"You could say these are the players who flash the wrong kind of teeth on the pitch," said Zaradkiewicz, who came up with the idea for the exhibit.

Austrian Gerhard Gepp won the 7,000-zloty prize for his commentary on the various off-the-pitch issues.

"The Couch" shows a soccer ball leaning against a pillow at couch-therapy with the great Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Other works include an irate soccer player confronting a referee with an optician's eye chart, rival players exchanging jerseys — and underpants — after a match and a sweating goalkeeper surrounded by flying asteroids.

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