17 Dec 2013 | Football

The Language of Football| Blog 2010

This is a partially edited compendium of the blogs I wrote during the 2010 World Cup.

No smoke without fire, no sting without bee

Momentum begins to gather as football coaches name their final FIFA World Cup Squads. I, however, am not here to discuss that just yet because until June 11th we can still wallow in tabloid stimulated scandals that keep the front pages alive.

Once again I am delighted to turn your attention to how Football and Life walk hand-in-hand/in tandem/pas de deux/Doppelgaenger/Deja-vue/Honi soit qui mal y pense  etc etc…

Everything is known, yet we know nothing

It’s been a long gap between the last post and this, but I felt it worth waiting to find out who won what before launching into the month-plus of fever that will be the FIFA World Cup 2010 which starts kind of now.

So, to summarise the season –  European trophies were won by Madrid’s second club and Milan’s most international one.

The English Premiership was won by the record scoring powerhouse of Chelsea, the German and Spanish leagues by the predictable suspects of Bayern and Barca and Inter won all the Italian domestics.  Other teams won in other places, the most notable being the Dutch champions – FC Twente who were guided to the treetops from relative obscurity by former England boss, the over maligned  Steve Mclaren.

At this point, I am in search of a theme for the World Cup. The Mclaren story is a nice one – how somebody with talent, appears to lose it and then regains it. Sort of  Ziggy Stardust in reverse. Another theme that I suspect will reap rewards would be entitled something like ‘Who needs sanity when we’re talking football’. To this end, I propose none other than the great survivor of the losing final fours ago, Raymond Domenech of La Belle France. There is little need for me to review what he’s done and said – nobody wanted him and nobody wants him, but somehow he’s in charge for one last tournament. Laughs are quasi-guaranteed (and in case you’re unsure, I do mean laughing at and not laughing with.)

I have enough time to come up with other subtext themes, I’ll let you know as the prep unfolds.

Football’s over, let the football begin.

When a draw is a draw, a defeat and a victory

4 days in and we’ve seen an impressive victory (Germany 4 Australia 0), a professional victory ( Argentina 1 Nigeria 0), a victory with great celebrations (Ghana 1  Serbia 0) among various others.

What interests me however,  albeit at this early stage in proceedings, are the three draws concerning England, France and Italy.

Robert Green falls asleep while Patrice Evra just wishes he could

But would they really like to swap shoes?

The World Cup Runneth Over- Daily updates from the corner flag

ENGLAND ( Cameron 3.58) 1 USA (Obama 40) 1. The Oil still troubles the waters.

GB (a.k.a BP) Vs. USA = DC Vs. BO

Pays-Bas winners

Today saw a cunning victory for Dutch beer makers BAVARIA, who managed to get loads of free publicity by delivering an example of ‘Ambush Marketing’.

Whatever the legality or morality of this stunt, it wins admiration for being clever. I must admit to being slightly confused as to why a Dutch company, with its own great tradition of brewing has assumed a German marque – but marketing is clearly what these people are good at, so who am I to question them?

Marketing is all about image, style and substance. If BAVARIA can foster ( ) a reputation for being renegades and rule benders (as opposed to lawbreakers), then more power to their elbow. For some nice links to this story and one regarding Britain’s own renegade Prime Minister.

Will you remember this FIFA World Cup in 30 years from now?

If we fast-forward to August 2040, the chances are that you will remember the events of June/July 2010 better than what will have happened just a few weeks before.

Dementia, unfortunately, is an ever-increasing problem. Medical progress is being made but the progress is mainly in the vain of discovering the depth of the issue rather than potential treatments.

An interesting and informative article by Gordon Cairns in The Guardian was published this week showing how by stimulating memories of football from days gone by, some patients are gaining pleasure by reviewing their glorious (or indeed inglorious) soccer pasts.

Super Sulk Sacked

First Robbie Earle gets sacked for allegedly ( ) moving match tickets in the wrong direction, then Nic Anelka is removed from the French team for telling the most vilified coach in recent football history where to stick his astrological map.

Split loyalties-spilt royalties

Right now I am listening to callers on a BBC Radio 5 phone-in adding opinions as to why England failed to beat Algeria tonight. I am sure the same conversations are taking place on German radio shows (Germany lost today to Serbia) and I am equally certain that Spanish callers did the same thing 2 days ago and their French €uro brothers (for now at least) did the same thing last night.

Without even listening I can guess that people are saying, via voice, blog and tweet, that ‘their’ players lack passion, ability and modesty.

I recall some six or seven years ago that Franz Beckenbauer (who has also spoken out of turn this week) said that international football had a limited future because the power of the clubs was getting greater and that international football was less a priority than earning a (great) salary and playing for a (great) club. It’s clearly too early to write off England, France, Spain and Germany from this year’s World Cup, but the question I’d like to raise is “Is there really such as thing as a consolidated international team?” I have no doubt that somebody will win the tournament, and whoever it is will have become ‘teamified’ between now and July 11th -but what of the 31 ‘teams’ that will have failed?

Right now this is just a hypothesis, I often preach keeping an open mind, so I’ll do that for the short term, but watch this space, I have a theory and I’m quite ready to produce the evidence to back it up!

ONE GOAL, remember to follow it through

World leaders are gathering before the World Cup final match in Johannesburg to discuss the global education crises. Let’s send them a warning sign they can’t ignore, and let them know the real goal is quality education for every child.

Obama and Fabio Capello both say ‘Mistake’

I’ve tried really hard to avoid discussing John Terry during this World Cup blog, and although this entry is inevitably about him, for the sake of balance I shall switch focus to two other leaders also on slippery slopes. While (I don’t wanna be) The President of America is still hoping to out slick BP, he’s become side-tracked by his John Terry surrogate – a certain General Stanley McChrystal who has criticised in Rolling Stone Magazine (not the N.Y.Times. nor the Washington Post), his top admin officials and by extension – Mr President himself. Heaven Forfend! the BBC has reported that The General has already apologised, presumably because he heard that John Terence had done the same thing.

Likewise, the Fab Cap on the other hand has had to deal with his former leader of men doing a similar thing by talking directly to the gentlemen of the press.

An Official Error Too Far

I was going to complain about refereeing errors after Italy was expelled from the World Cup on Thursday. I decided however that before demanding that CONI (The Italian Olympic committee that overseas all their football activity) pulls out of FIFA, that sooner or later another major football nation would suffer at the hands of poor decision making aided by FIFA’s stubborn and misguided refusal to use goal-line technology.

England have just been (roundly) beaten by Germany. The result however may have been less emphatic or indeed very different if A PERFECTLY GOOD GOAL HAD BEEN SPOTTED AND ALLOWED by the referee.

So now England has been hoisted on Blatter’s petard too and I could quite legitimately demand the FA pulls out of FIFA with CONI. I am so sure however that yet another ‘big’ soccer nation will also soon be done in by shoddy refereeing underwritten by the narrow-minded attitude of FIFA that I am quite content to wait for this to occur. After all, three dissenting voices WILL BE better than two.

So who will be Blatter’s next victims? I suspect it’s meant to be a small fish like Japan but I confess I rather hope that it will be Brazil. They will be the next hosts and if they are to open their rhythmic doors to the World in four years from now, it would be good for them to have an axe to grind in FIFA’s neck long before.


27 June 2010

Argentina 3 Mexico 1

OK, Mexico is not the big fish I was looking for (perdona amigos, es el opinion de FIFA non es miyo)

But we didn’t have to wait long after the England defeat for yet another arbiter blunder. Argentina’s  Carlos Tevez scored the opening goal with a header when he was blatantly offside. The ref missed it but the linesperson saw it – not in the flesh, but on the big screen. Because he witnessed it through ‘the lies of technology’ and told the Ref, the officials, abiding by the FIFA rules had to pretend they had not seen it and allow a totally illegitimate goal to stand.

This would be a joke if it were funny, but it’s not.

It occurs also that my suspended call for the Italian, English and Mexican FA’s to walk out of FIFA area a bit premature as the English are still hoping to win the bid to host the 2018 competition. They are not likely to argue with FIFA while their bid still has life in it.

Perhaps they should go for a half-nelson approach; ‘We will galvanise all the cheated nations to set up a rival FIFA unless you give us the hosting rights. Mr Blatter’.

Dream on…

Sour grapes sweet

The second semi-final (Spain Vs Germany) has just finished leaving us with the guarantee of a new World Champion. As somebody who predicted that one of the Big Four (Brazil, Italy, Germany & Argentina) would win, I have to eat my hat-shaped humble pie and say “I woz wrong”.

On the other hand, and as somebody who has supported Italy and all that goes with it, it is with some pleasure that I can list the all-time World Cup league table thus:

Brazil 5 wins, Italy 4 wins, Germany 3 wins, Argentina 2 wins, Uruguay 2 wins, France 1 win, England 1 win, Spain/Holland: whatever. Did I forget anyone? Once more:  whatever

So I  can declare that despite their sad performance this time out, that Italy is still the top European soccer nation.

How ironic is this? The final in South Africa will be played out by Holland and Spain, the two nations that respectively colonised much of Africa and Central/Southern America. For the very first time, a European team will win on another continent – is this a soft kind of 21st Century nouveau colonisation? No need to reply-it’s just a thought.

Sour grapes make sour whine

This has to be my final moan concerning FIFA WC 2010. Howard Webb, the English referee has been appointed to officiate the final between the Dutch Bland Coffee Meisters and the Castillian/Catalan alliance representative eleven (a.k.a The Democratic Kingdom of Hispania for nearly 40 years.)

I cannot quite see how this man gets such a prestigious job after his errors in the Slovakia vs Italy game 2 weeks ago (not to mention his weekly faux-pas in the Premiership). The Italians know how they were so non-grata in 2002 that FIFA’s referee kept the host nation (South Korea) in the competition at the expense of the Azzuri. Now Webb does the same thing and gets rewarded for it!

To remind you, in their game against Slovakia Italy had a fine goal disallowed {from the Guardian “Fabio Quagliarella was unlucky when his shot was cleared off the line – if not from behind it – by Skrtel,” and ” Italy thought they had the goal they needed to progress two minutes later, only for Quagliarella to be ruled offside by a matter of centimetres,” (in fact TV coverage showed he wasonside}.

You know that my self-imposed remit is to write about football in a way that makes folk feel motivated and uplifted, but quite frankly it’s wearing thin when a man is rewarded for being highly imperfect. England, France, Portugal and Greece were all mediocre and got insulted for being so. Why does a referee get rewarded for the same?

Or is it an advance consolation for the possibe fact that England (the country) won’t get to host 2018 after all.

I hope not, my blogs ought to be 4D holograms by then.

That’s all.

When 3 is better than 2

I don’t really get Formula 1. However, I was interested to hear earlier today (on BBC Radio 5 Live) that Fernando Alonso, who will start the British GP in 3rd position, is better there than in second place.

It strikes me that the German football team, who won the 3rd place play-off are happier than tomorrow’s losers will be. Although this was a ‘losers’ final, it still meant that the German public and players have finished on a positive high.

Think about it.

World Cup Haiku

Victory is strong

Defeat burns even deeper

Winning feeds the soul

The contest was interesting for many reasons, but perhaps what is most worth looking at are the 31 teams that failed. Some went out with honour (Ghana, Germany, Uruguay, Paraguay). Others came home ashamed (France, England, Brazil, France, Italy, Greece, France, Portugal and finally; France).

There are lessons to be learned from failure, oh, but before that. HOWARD WEBB. Don’t ignore the Dutch comments because their team played badly. Don’t think he was good because he’s British. He was as poor as I suggested he would be. He will be bad in the Premier League AGAIN in 2010-2011. This is a prediction, bet on it!!!