Cry, The Beloved Country
So, another shock result last night in Group C, when, after their draw with the mighty US of A, plucky England fought their way to a draw against the ever dangerous Desert Rats from Algeria. With two points from their opening two fixtures, against all expectation, Sven Capello’s boys still have a chance of progessing to the Second Round. And who would’ve called that when the draw was made back in December, eh?
Such facetiousness may have left some with the impression that this correspondent doesn’t really give a hoot about Ingerlund’s performance at the tournament but that would be somewhat misleading. No, I do care, quite intensely as it happens. I want the fuckers out. As soon as possible. What enjoyment is there to be garnered from the competition when the prospect, however remote, remains of an England triumph in either the Euros or the World Cup? (Remember how enjoyable Euro 2008 was?) If football wasn’t already tainted enough by the utter morons infesting the game then how bad would things get following the Queen’s publicity-hungry-PM’s bestowal of knighthoods on Sir John Terry and Sir Stevie Me?
Such lack of patriotism isn’t all-pervading. I generally like representatives of these isles to do well in whatever sport, and openly admit to ‘supporting’ England in cricket, rugby and the like. British competitors at an Olympics will always get my backing too (save for that cheating drug fiend Ohuruogo. And, for some intangible reason, those twin tools Henman and Murray. Their Wimbledon exits also induce a healthy dose of Schadenfreude) but the idea of willing on a load of vile imbeciles who we spend the rest of the year detesting, whilst allying with the hideous hordes who attach themselves to ‘believing’ (co. Mars/Kit Kat/whoever the FA has whored themselves out to now), well, forgive me if I pass thanks. The collection of middle England jingoistic, nationalistic, xenophobic, new-football, hooray Henry Vs who the media hold up as some sort of triumph of post-Premier League social cleansing are enough to make you pine for the days of 3000-strong England mobs rampaging through Stuttgart, Sardinia and Stockholm. At least then there could be an appreciation of Neanderthal behaviour at its most raw, as opposed to the sugar-coated Homo Baddielus-lite we endure now.
Still, anyone who knows anything about football’s World Cup knows that the World Cup is nothing to do with football. To have travelled around the States, France, Japan and Germany in recent tournaments is to have enjoyed wonderful carnivals with people of myriad nations (even England) and what a fine time can truly be had by all. Berlin the night of the last World Cup final was an event in itself. In the afternoon Germans descended on the fanpark by the Brandenburg gate in their tens of thousands to hail their losing semi-finalists before the evening got underway with fans of seemingly every other competing nation (and Scotland) mingled in with masses of Italians and French as the festivities continued until well into the next working day.
This time round, despite the (in the main) woeful matches, there’s clearly a great sense of that occurring in South Africa too. For some reason though now it’s seen as a novelty, with any number of commentators queuing up to pat the “Africans” on the head whilst patronising an entire continent. (Interesting that only sixteen years had passed from the fall of communism to those parties at Checkpoint Charlie in 2006 – the same time lapse from free elections in SA to the current World Cup, but none of the nauseating ‘ooh, look what these little German folk have managed’ was evident last time.) Quite why a Moroccan, for instance, would feel any more proud to be watching a tournament in South Africa in which they’re not competing – distance from Rabat to Cape Town: just over 9000 kms – compared to Mexico ’86 – distance from Rabat: just under 8000 kms – when they topped England’s group, is not explained. Still, in the final word on apartheid from politicus emeritus Alan Hansen: “That system was obviously fundamentally flawed, but now they’ve got the World Cup…”
Despite the shiny, happy, clappy image of the World Cup that the media is intent on feeding us, there is another story of the World Cup in South Africa desperate to break out. (Here: here: and here: ) The issue of localised but well-backed protests against the expenditure on staging the tournament is one that was similarly skirted round at February’s Winter Olympics, where big demonstrations highlighting the plight of homelessness in the city (decent documentary here: ) turned violent but were still not allowed to distract from the IOC’s shindig. FIFA’s press officers will be equally busy trying to ensure the narrative stays fully focused on football matters, lending their commercial partners as much exposure as possible.
Yes. On we come to FIFA and their dirty, grubby, nefarious activities. If you doubted the World Cup was nothing to do with football then their rampant prostitution of the event surely proves it. That they managed to force a law on South Africa’s authorities criminalising “ambush marketing” indicates a ridiculously inverted balance of power that should worry any normal democratic society, though clearly in Jacob Zuma’s government FIFA’s hierarchy has found perfect partners. The treatment of the orange-dressed Dutch women at the Holland-Denmark game was disgraceful (outdoing even the forced stripping of fans bearing a Bavarian brewery’s orange lederhosen at a Holland game in Stuttgart in 2006, which could at least be partially understood given the prominence of the company’s name) and indicative of Blatter’s bullies’ usual ill-thought- out sledgehammer-walnut tactics which ultimately sought to deny a minor publicity stunt publicity by affording it undreamt of levels of publicity. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s ever caustic Fiver team have taken to lampooning to “the 2010 Fifa World Cup sponsored by Asics, Dr Pepper, Air Greenland, Skoda, Hitachi, American Express, Swiffer, Skol, Skoal Bandits, Poundstretcher, the Keynote range of clothing, Gibbs SR, Reggae Reggae Sauce, Oldham Batteries, Fine Fare, Crisco, Sunny Delight, Jif, Cif, Mr Sheen, the Egg Marketing Board, BP, Greggs, Oracle, ACME, Smiths Crisps, Hovis, Tupperware, Brentford Nylons, Bisto, Guiney’s of Talbot Street, Marlboro Lights, Cohiba, Talisker, Hendricks, Laphroaig, Nurofen, Anadin, Nurofen Plus and Toilet Duck” in a move which would probably amuse those many South African traders seeking to earn a few rand from the custom the tournament will attract had they not been hammered into submission by FIFA’s legal department.
A recent Telegraph piece highlighted FIFA’s demands that the World Cup be referred to by its full title(?!) as ‘The FIFA 2010 World Cup… blah blah blah’, whilst wondering what their paranoia was all about. “Surely there’s not another World Cup organising group lurking out there seeking to capitalise on the lack of mentions of FIFA in the bog standard references to the ‘World Cup’ with plans to hijack the title and set up their own” was pretty much the jist of it. Indeed. The whole thing is almost as ridiculous as FIFA’s claim that a tournament trumpeted for its post-apartheid showcasing of South Africa is in no way political. Well of course not. Those poor, opportunistic South Korean-born, millionaire residents of Japan churning out crocodile tears for North Korea (well, one of them anyway) should just be left well alone by hacks eager to raise the iniquities of millions of his (non)compatriots starving back home under the Dear Leader’s iron and demented rule (N.B. Kim Jong-Il, not Sepp).
If all that’s not bored you enough, we part with two closing thoughts from this thankfully vuvulezaless piece:
* is it really true you can download a wizard from the internet that eliminates from your TV coverage all those pesky black people?
* whichever BBC producer was responsible for digging out Partridge’s ‘memo to Lynn’ from the archives and adapting the ‘Youth Hostelling With Chris Eubank’ idea into a real, televised (Honest! Or did I dream it??) ‘Alan Shearer In The Townships’ is a genius. Genius! We await with childlike anticipation quite how he’ll similarly modify ‘Knowing M.E., Knowing You’ into a Gabby Logan skit about AIDS sufferers in Bloemfontein.
P.S. We’d have touched further on the lunacy of the BBC’s coverage but it’s more than adequately dealt with here. There’s no point mentioning ITV as we all know they’re a bunch of cnuts anyway.
P.P.S. Further updates direct from Port Elizabeth next week. Possibly.