Well it’s turning into a good World Cup tournament. England have scraped through the dreaded group stage which has seen some big beasts wounded and one or two of the aging ones fall. Africa’s put on quite a show but there have been some highs and lows.
Some of the good bits:
– Cape Town has delivered a stunning backdrop for most WC links and intro pieces, possibly justifying the £1m cost of that BBC studio. I’m not sure Milton Keynes will look quite as splendid should we win the 2018 bid.
– some of the stadia look fabulous – let’s hope they all get used properly after the event:
– English fans have stumped up £000’s to be there and to get around this huge country following the England team and there hasn’t been a hint of trouble (and this despite some stuttering, even abject, performances from the 3 Lions)
– no WAGs
– no Michael Ballack
– Sven isn’t in charge of England
– the Maradona tinderbox – he’s great to watch on the touchline but he’s bound to explode at some point. Please lord let it be when we play Argentina in the QF’s and Rooney scores a disputed winning goal – was it ball to hand or hand to ball?
– seeing France go out (at least the Italians looked distraught).
– the English referee Howard Webb’s actually looks competent and doesn’t seem set on making a big name for himself through making horror decisions.
– it could have been the Drogba WC – all that man of Africa stuff. Fortunately it hasn’t happened. Deep joy.
– the Paraguayan kit – surely the best here:
Some of the lowlights:
– that jabulani ball is a problem especially in the thin atmosphere on the sveld. It’s probably not acting as weirdly in flight as first predicted but occasionally it does seem to behave more like a beachball – usually when Ronaldo attempts to take a trade-mark free-kick and sees his effort hit the top of the main stand. Or when Shaun Wright-Philipps attempts to cross the ball. Listen to Mike Parry on redneck little Englander radio and you’d believe it’s all a FIFA-inspired conspiracy to get their favorite sons, Germany, once more into the Final. Adidas are the makers of the ball and official suppliers to the WC and they are a German company of course. Sneekily they also supplied several of the top Bundesliga clubs with the ball last season to allow key members of the German squad to get adjusted to using it. Cleverly FIFA knew that the Premier League couldn’t accept the jabulani ball as they have a separate supplier arrangement with Nike. Ah zat is zo clever Herr Blatter. Unfortunately the Parry theory fell apart when it became clear that Adidas had sent a supply of the balls to the FA for use by the England team in closed training before the WC. However the FA either lost them or they disappeared in transit before reaching the FA, no doubt stolen by German dockers in Hamburg eh Mr Parry?
– speaking of German cynicism, what the heck is the Kaiser up to, suggesting that England had regressed under Capello and were playing nothing better than kick-and-rush football (actually I might have settled for that against Algeira)? I could imagine Rudi Woller or Paul Breitner coming out with some mind game nonsense anticipating a looming match against the old foe but the elegant and articulate Beckenbauer? Donner und blitzen he’s the only German that Englishmen respect, well maybe Klinsmann too a little bit. But Franz must be getting a little cranky in his old age. Or a little worried?
– and to complete this little section on all things German and dodgy, I feel obliged to have a little pop at German manager, Joachim Low’s, hairstyle. I know, I know you’re probably thinking this is nothing less than hair-envy from a shaven-headed ranter. But come on, he’s a man with a 50 year old face and the foppish looks and dress sense of a 16 year old boy. He’s got a better fringe than our friend Pauline’s Afghan hound. And yet somehow it seems so appropriate on a man who’s name is pronounced ‘lurve’. That’s what he must feel when he looks in the mirror each morning as he whispers ‘Ich liebe dich Joachim’. Just look what he did when the wind blew a little:
Oh mein haar, mein haar!!
– back to non-Germanic matters. What about the incessant vuvuzelas? I’ve only heard singing at the England matches – all the other matches have been drowned out by the noise of the bloody things. I know it’s the sound of Africa and all that but it’s taken almost all of the natural atmosphere away. Call me a humbug but I think they should have limited them within the grounds in some way – maybe kids or FIFA officials only. Actually I can think of one senior FIFA man whose rectum deserves to have a vuvuzela inserted.
– is it just me or are the TV cameramen under instructions not to focus on pretty girls in the crowd in this WC? I’ve had more than enough of fat blokes with painted faces, big specs and colourful wigs/hats. Where are all the Brazilian beauties?
– the emotional journey that is Landon Donovan’s story at this WC. I wake up in a cold sweat that he’s going to score the winning goal in the Final and wave that bloody flag again:
– the economics of the whole affair. FIFA are set to make between £1-2Billion profit from the event. The S African FA will make around £50m although it will have cost the state around £5B in stadium/infrastructure costs and hosting costs. Meanwhile the SA economy has received only a slight boost because exorbitant travel and hotel costs have put off many overseas fans from attending the event. hence the half empty stadia at many of the matches. I hope I’m wrong but I sense that for S Africa it’ll turn out to be an Athens Olympics experience. White elephants in Africa sounds like an inevitable post-event headline a year from now.
– the sad death of Mandela’s great grand-daughter on the eve of the event was desperately unfortunate and has meant that the event has so far taken place without the involvement and the attendance of the great man. Sadly this also means that we’ve seen a lot more of Sepp Blatter because President Zuma’s doesn’t seem quite so PR-suitable in FIFA eyes. Just how many wives has the man got?
– that match against Algeria; nuff said.
– learning that the first thing Thierry Henry did upon setting foot on French soil was to request and be granted an audience with President Sarkozy, who must be really busy. Apparently they discussed the reasons for the French World Cup debacle. Maybe it was just the Almighty (no not Sepp Blatter but the Good Lord Himself) answering the prayers of millions of Irishmen and women to grant the decent honest French team all the success that their performance in the qualifiers deserved. Inglorious cheating basteurds.
– the lurid orange and all white football boots that Nike have supplied to many of the players. Real men aren’t supposed to eat quiche. I don’t know about that but you’ve got to be a couple of logs short of being a full lumberjack to want to wear orange boots on a football field. That’s just so Venus Williams. White boots are bad enough but at least there’s some historical precedence. And here’s a thing – it was my good friend and fellow Director in the company Sponsorfinder, Brian Hewitt, who devised the original white football boot and got the fiery Alan Ball to be the first wearer of the snazzy, snowy footwear back in the late 60’s. So there you go. The all-whites are alright but orange? – squash the thought. [Incidentally you can see how very old my good friend Brian is by clicking on the Sponsorfinder website from the link on the Pasta Paulie homepage. There’s even a shot of yours truly looking like a child molester].
– the rubbish guest commentators. Patrick Viera; played like a crazy bull, speaks like a shy girl. Adebayor – I just can’t catch what he says. Edgar Davids ; supposed to be edgy and controversially Dutch and he’s about as interesting as Dutch elm disease. And what about the regular commentators? Adrian Chiles doesn’t seem quite as natural and self-assured when he’s presenting live and spontaneously does he? Oops how much did he cost ITV? He even makes lugs Lineker look assured. Speaking of the BBC what is Garth Crooks doing out there? His contribution is just ……rubbish. Finally Alan ‘shocking’ Green was on his ‘it’s a disgrace’ best yesterday commentating on the Brazil v Portugal match. It wasn’t a classic to be sure (was it likely to be when both sides effectively only needed to draw to go through?) but you’d have thought he was commentating on the Turkish massacre of the Armenians. He was so disgusted by the spectacle. The problem is that his co-commentators – the mindless Chris Waddle and predictable David Pleat – just follow his lead and tut tut in harmony. I’d love to be a co-commentator along side him so I could tell him to SHADDUP moaning and appreciate his good fortune in being paid handsomely to watch some of the world’s great players play the beautiful game in a stunning country. If you don’t like it, don’t go you ingrate, Green.
– finally the adverts. They’re driving me nuts; every damn brand trying to associate itself with football in some desperate way. The Kia one with cars playing footie (England v Germany …yawn) is cliched and just pointlessly ineffcetive. But nothing compares to the Pringoallls! ad from, yes I get it, snack food Pringles which features two megastars of the World Cup – Peter Crouch, who’s spent at least 5 minutes on the pitch so far and the sulkface Anelka, sent home in disgrace for calling his manager a son of a whore. Such a wholesome image for a family snack yet still Pringles persist in showing it. It’s a pity they don’t have an outrageously hammy flavour because that’s the only way to describe the acting. Endure:
Any things that I have missed that have made you smile/cry at the WC?