So the great carnival that is the World Cup is over for another 4 years.
Frankly I wasn’t expecting my respect for the world cup to diminish over the course of the last month, but it did. I have some awards to present.
The Germans: Well done! Top organization it seemed, the focus was on the football and not the number of English hooligans arrested, or administration snafus.
The World Game: Well it still is the world game. Any event than can bring together two countries lead by such crazies as these two in friendly fairly staged competition on neutral ground has to be good for the health of the globe.
The German Football Team: No team behaved perfectly but the Germans were fairly decent I thought, and did well to finish 3rd in front of their home fans..
The Australian Football Team: The closest thing to a fairy tale of the event, a narrow loss to the eventual champions showed how competitive they were.
Scolari and The Portugese Team:
I have always thought coaches are given too much credit when things go well and take too much of the blame when things don’t. I’m sure a large chunk of the brilliance attributed to coaches such as Scolari (Portugal) and Hiddink (Australia) can be explained by probability theory. If you put me in charge of the Brazilian team there will still be a very healthy chance they will win the world cup (Scolari was Brazilian coach when they won the cup in 2002). In a tournament of bad sportsmanship the champions must surely be the Portugese unfortunately who were quite simply disgraceful. An honourable mention to the Italians, though it’s difficult to single any team out, from what I saw there were no angels playing. Take Tim Cahill from Australia for example and place him in a portugese jumper and he wouldn’t have seemed out of place.
Every time a decision went against Portugal; Scolari was out of his seat and gesticulating like he had just been personally insulted, someone should have told this goose to take a seat and shut his mouth. It would have been good actually if the cameras had focussed less on the coaches, though with the melodrama they provided it’s understandable they grabbed a lot of screen time.
I guess Wayne Rooney’s stomping might rate a mention, also Zidane’s head butt incident. You might expect such things from a borderline thug such as Rooney but it will be interesting to find out what provoked Zidane.
The Penalty Shoot Out
What a sad way to finish the world cup. Soccer might be a fantastic game, but there is something clearly wrong with the way games are finished, perhaps a slight jigging of the rules is in order. One solution might be a player drop off in extra time, one player taken off the field per team every 5 minutes or something similar. Anything but penalties please.
The Carnival of Cheating:
If there’s a message that was delivered by this tournament it’s that the end justifies the means, win and win at any cost. ‘Simulating’, ‘Diving’ or more accurately ‘cheating’ was rife and well rewarded. It was so bad I found myself feeling a bit discouraged by the whole thing and even losing some respect for the game.
There was one incident in the final when the Italian defender Canavarro was beaten in defence, but sensing this launched himself magnificently into the air and onto the ground, the result was an unjustified free kick and change of momentum. I was shaking my head at how well he did it, even with the benefit of replays it looked quite convincing, it was cheating still but very convincing cheating. It’s no wonder the referee’s can’t tell the difference when the quality of the cheating is so high.
Like I said it’s a problem that is not confined to any team or player, though some are worse than others. I’m not sure what the solution is either but I know It left a bad taste on the whole event.