The Noise of the Vuvuzela fails to silence the Doubts.

23 06 2010

The World Cup rumbles on.

Not counting the action from Day 10, 32 matches have been played, 67 goals have been scored, some unexpected results (New Zealand holding Italy) and some utterly predictable (Portugal putting 7 past North Korea, England drawing with the USA).

There have been some great goals, some dreadful howlers, few memorable moments and the continuous noise of the vuvuzela.

Not exactly a vintage tournament so far, but we have at least arrived at the final round of group matches that will determine the countries heading into the last 16.

On the day of the tournament starting, I donned my pundit hat (which takes the form of a wide-brimmed cricket hat, a hat I am banned from wearing in public by my better half) and listed the nations that might have reasonable expectations of achieving World Cup Success.

Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Argentina, The Netherlands, Italy, France and even England will all fancy their chances of glory. The USA may do better than predicted, Ivory Coast may actually be ones to watch and Mexico have come into the tournament in good form.”

Before yesterdays matches had kicked off, only Holland (The Netherlands) and Brazil had ensured that their fans could continue to party in the Rainbow Nation.

Spain have only just started playing, Germany had lost to Serbia, Portugal (who routed the North Koreans) need a draw to progress, Argentina needed to dispatch Greece, Italy had played 2 and drawn 2, England had done the same (demonstrating that being highly paid Premiership footballers doesn’t mean anything if you can’t pass the ball to a colleague) whilst France had imploded in spectacular fashion with a refusal to train on Sunday and  Nicholas Anelka (of Chelsea) being sent home after calling the manager a “fils de putain” – literally a “son of a whore”, which fitted nicely in with the pre-World cup excursion to a notorious Parisian prostitute by some of the team.

At the end of Day 11, Mexico had scraped into the Round of 16 and Argentina had made it three wins out of three.

And the French?

They lost to South Africa, finished bottom of their group  and apparently have been booked into Economy Class for the trip back to France.

Greece are also on their way home, as are Nigeria whose draw with South Korea ensured that the non-communist half of Korea would be playing Uruguay (winners of Group A) in the next round. Poor performances in the first round from Cameroon and Honduras ensured that this last game is a dead rubber for them, and North Korea were on a hiding to nothing despite the “fervent” support of their 50 identikit supporters.

Everything else is still up in the air. Even New Zealand can still go through if they defeat Paraguay.

England need to beat Slovenia (who I claimed were only there to make up the numbers), the USA also need to register a result against Algeria, Germany cannot lose against Ghana (or they will be out, despite winning 4-0 against the Aussies) and Italy will be hoping that they can forget about drawing with a team ranked Number 78 in the World and show their true worth.

The hosts, South Africa, will now be observers at their own party. They have performed well and took 4 points from 3 games but the cruelty of goal difference means that they will take no further part in the action. They may not have gone “home”, but they will be standing awkwardly in the corner, nursing a gin & tonic whilst their CD collection is rifled through and criticised.

And on July 12, they will be the ones picking up peanuts from the floor and wondering where the cat went.

But this has been an unsatisfying tournament so far.

The constant din of the vuvuzelas has drowned out the sounds of the supporters (although not hearing the England band play “The Great Escape” theme has been a blessing), there have been empty seats at many of the games, the football has been tactical without being exciting, the Jabulani match ball started off by being erratic and has caused a few problems.

And there has been a nagging feeling that despite the vast amount of money that has been spent to ensure that these stadiums are World Class, over the horizon a nation that loves The Beautiful Game is going to be left with a financial legacy from which it will never recover. A mate of mine, who is in South Africa, summed it up when he said that “these stadiums look really impressive against the background of tin shacks and poverty.”

The French players may have let their country down and left the tournament in disgrace, possibly followed by England, but in bringing this huge global media spectacle to South Africa, FIFA may have sown the seeds of monetary disaster on a continent that can’t afford to pick up the cheque.

When the fans, the players and the media leave, what will be the ultimate legacy of South Africa 2010?

We can only hope that it not just the sound of the vuvuzela.

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3 responses

23 06 2010
Anthony Carlson

Thanks again Dave for bringing us all down in your typical Englush manner. Yes, I agree that all international sporting events do nothing but leave a whole in the hosting country’s economy, but I want my vuvuzela. Cheap plastic toys that make a lot of noise serve a greater purpose in the universe. Think of them as that higher level of enlightenment that many in the world are trying to achieve whie chanting in room filled with men in robes. In fact, I am certain that I saw Buddha on the goalpost during the Donovan extra time strike this afternoon. I’m a believer!

24 06 2010
davidjbolton

Note that I did write that before the games yesterday!

Very pleased that we got through until I realised (after several pints) that we would be playing Germany on Sunday – if ever there was a time to acknowledge the possability of a deity, it will be then.

Hopefully we will both progress so that I can watch some games with my American chums.

PS if I hear a vuvuzela coming from CP, I shall not hesitate to grass you up.

27 06 2010
Larry

Please clear London Bridge of all pedestrians. There may be mass suicide taking place in River.

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