Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup 2010: South African finals are in the running to be the worst tournament ever

Article from the Telegraph about a week ago. It is worth reading now after the event because the final verdict (in this writer's opinion) hinged on the final game last night. So, was it a great final, and did it redeem the world cup as a whole?

For the "gees" it generated in SA, I would give it 10/10 with the proviso that SA is a country starved of good feelings all round. The last time anybody in SA felt this good was probably in 2007 when the Springboks won the rugby world cup and before that, probably in 1995 when they did the same. Anyway, you be the judge.

Anyways, I love to hear the English whinge


As the competition draws to its close and the withdrawal pangs start to kick in, the time comes to congratulate Sepp Blatter on masterminding such a powerful contender for the worst World Cup ever held.

There is one last chance of redemption. Should Sunday's final prove the greatest football match of all time – three red cards, four penalties, five goals scored from a range to make Arie Haan's legendary 45-yarder look like Miroslav Klose's tap in from an inch on Saturday, a brawl involving the 22 players and both benches featuring knuckle-dusters.

Machetes, a couple of AK47s, and survivors from one side transforming a 6-4 deficit late in extra time into a 7-6 victory. Then the World Cup of 2010 will be hoisted to the vertiginous heights of the exceedingly average.

Failing that, it must take its doleful place in the unholy trinity of absolute stinkers alongside USA 94 and the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea.

The trio are linked in infamy by more than the paucity of memorable games and beautiful football, and the failure of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney to electrify their sport in the manner of Pele, Cruyff and Maradona.

All three were hosted, as geographers will have noted, outside the competition's traditional continental homes.

This could be coincidence. It may have nothing to do with the unfamiliarity of Asia, Africa and North America with men for whom, to paraphrase Ian Rush on leaving Turin, playing outside Europe and South America must be like playing on a foreign continent. But God does not believe in coincidence, and nor do I.

Also taking its portion of the blame, needless to add, is the Jabulani ball. One understands the limitations of a sphere with a take-off trajectory styled, for reasons known only to Fifa, after the Harrier Jump Jet.

At times, when yet another perfectly weighted 50-yard pass bounces over the target player and stadium wall en route to Mozambique, you wondered why Mr Blatter did not go that extra mile for satirical mirth by deploying a rugby ball, or an aluminium-lined helium balloon.

The paramount problem, however, has been the weather. The first tournament played in a cool climate since 1966 (the fourth-worst World Cup ever, to the non-jingoistic observer) has suffered grievously from the lack of broiling heat and draining humidity.

Apart from anything else, this has denied us at least two cherished traditions. There has not been a single report of a player losing two thirds of his body weight in sweat, and requiring a night in hospital on an intravenous drip.

When an admittedly elongated Wimbledon match produces more medical concerns about loss of body fluids than an entire World Cup, you know you are in trouble. Nor have we heard of the random drug test subject needing 17 hours with the specimen jar, all the taps running and a New-Age tape of waterfall noises to produce a urine sample.

Dehydration is an essential counterweight to the depressingly high fitness levels of the modern footballer, who can run all day in clement climates in the cause of neutralising lavish attacking talent.

The highest drama comes when players are exhausted and exhibiting the early symptoms of sunstroke. This is when the likes of Messi can scythe through a defence, and when a side breaking from defending a free-kick or corner find themselves in the opposition half with no one in their path but the goalkeeper.

In truth, we have seen a little of that in South Africa, and for this enormous credit goes to John Terry, Matthew Upson and the rest of the England team.

Speaking of which, there is another compelling reason why all World Cups should be held in countries with an average temperature in the nineties and intense humidity in June and July (Mexico is my preference for a permanent home; there is nothing like settling down with an octuple brandy for an 11pm kick-off).

That way England's chances can be officially written off before the tournament begins, and a foolproof pre-emptive excuse offered and accepted for the global humiliation to come.

3 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Watching the SWC from Australia, I must say that as an “outsider” watching in, I found the SWC unexciting. I remember the last SWC hosted in Germany – wow, what a contest. I myself agree that there should be permanent host countries so that stadia do not need to be built at enormous costs – they could just recycle the old ones every few years. Permanent hosts could be Brazil; Germany; Italy and maybe England. That is where Soccer is most supported and played. The amount of money wasted by countries in bidding and then hosting is excessive and unjustifiable. SA has been left with a huge bill that has benefited no one, yet the tax payers will bear the brunt. This concept should also apply to the Olympics and the Rugby World Cup. The permanent hosts for rugby could be SA; New Zealand, England and maybe France. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents – SWC 2010 a failure to the viewer and the SA taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice that a team with no Blacks in won the SWC? Just saying....

VI said...

@Anon 9:34. Yep, we noticed. White men can't jump, and black men can't play soccer. Finished and klaar.