In Praise of the World Cup

Has the WC really been that bad? Germany have been a revelation. A young side playing skilful, organised football and scoring lots of goals along the way.

Argentina burned brightly and, like a supernova, collapsed in on themselves.

The tiny nation of Uruguay (population half of London) got to their first semi final in 50 years through a mixture of skill and cheating.

Others have done well. The finalists of course have risen to the occasion once in a while, though hopefully will do better tomorrow. New Zealand, bizarrely but heroically, managed to leave underrated and above Italy. Ghana flew the flag for Africa, though the others from the host continent were disappointing.

Even the failures have contributed to the drama, coming as they did from the over proud ranks of traditionally strong nations: Italy of course, England having to face the realities of their limitations and most spectacularly and absurdly, France. Never has a tournament shown the value of team play, of the collective over the individual. To me, that’s a good thing.

There have been refereeing errors but fewer than usual. The Lampard “goal” was even good as a means to show once and for all that change is needed.

As for the hosts, I’ve loved the vuvuzelas – South Africans love football, and they’ve shown their passion even after their side (the poorest South African side for years, unfortunately) was eliminated. From the outside, it’s very easy to think sport there is about rugby and cricket, but football is the true passion of the masses. There’s not much I agree with Sepp Blatter on, but the vuvuzela is a distinctly local feature, and I’m pleased of it.

The WC 2010 hasn’t been as good as some (1998, 1986, 2006 etc) but it’s been better than others (1994, 2002). But it is fair to say it’s not been great for Arsenal – those there haven’t performed especially well, several others weren’t even there. And then there’s been the farce of tapping up Cesc.

But overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the WC.

Written by 26may1989

49 Responses to In Praise of the World Cup

  1. dandan says:

    Nicely written piece 26may. And civil differences of opinion are what makes this site so good.
    However I cannot agree the mediocrity that has been the hallmark of this world cup, can be seen in any kind of optimistic light, yes there were a few high points and last nights third place final was a case in point.
    But would the average premiership fan pay the Ticket or TV prices they now do, to watch such mind numbing boring football, Where were the marauding centre forwards of past years, last night in the midst of a decent game two more Goal keepers not worthy of the name.
    The dirge of the vuvuzelas, again as mindless as the cacophony that was the signature of the MCC tour before last
    of The west Indies as millions of Empty beer cans were banged together, mercifully that was stopped for the last tour.

    The Rhythm of Africa is the drum not a plastic trumpet.

    Lets hope the FA act or mark my words Vuvuzelas will appear around the country to the detriment of our game.

    Finals hardly ever live up to expectations, but lets hope tonight’s does and we can leave this damp squib of a world cup, with a show of footballing pyrotechnics that illuminates our memories through the years to come and leaves the general public back in love with football and wanting more.
    Otherwise I feel this oh so negative world cup will be mainly remembered for the damage it does to viewing figures and club finances in the season to come.

  2. Rasp says:

    Great read 26m,

    Morning dandan, the group stages were pretty boring I must admit except for the shocks results. I don’t know what could be done to stop the ‘as long as we don’t lose’ attitude, but it certainly needs addressing.

    I am very happy for South Africa and proud that the football world has sought to give the continent a small boost. The spirit of fun is what appeals to me about the African nations – something that was palpably missing from the French and English squads.

    Did you see the documentary on the anniversary of the game in Turin? In the behind the scenes footage with Gazza and the players, they were just like a bunch of silly schoolkids, but they really performed on the pitch and put the present squad to shame.

  3. Pat7 says:

    26May…I read your article yesterday & having seen the Argentine display last night completely disagree with the second paragraph – LOL!

    The post was a brilliant one, however, & well worth putting up this morning. I felt Spain out wenger-balled Uruguay in the earlier match and at one point I thought they would win last night but the Germans, like us (quite often) dug deep & produced sparks of quality which made the difference.

    The Germans also showed us again their extremely efficient, low energy game for long periods & with their winter break to add some zest to their legs like most teams made our lead-laden team look sick!

  4. dandan says:

    The world cup should be a Knock out pure and simple Rasp, a cup between nations, rather than a cash cow for Politicians who dance to Blatters tune.

  5. Rasp says:

    Morning Pat7,

    It was our idea to put 26m’s post up today as it offered an intelligent opposing view to dandan’s yesterday.

    I agree about the winter break and would like to see the Premiership reduced to 18 (or less) with perhaps only 2 teams going up and down so that the overspending and parachute payments could be reduced.

  6. Pat7 says:

    Dandan – I really enjoyed last night’s match but have not sat through many as I’m 2 hours earlier than you here & didn’t discover a Turkish channel showing matches until a few had passed by!

    I think the dodgy GK is down to the ball – the one we have has its quirks from long range which people have realised & those teams with higher powered shots than our wimps are making use of. This ball seems to be even more ‘reactive’.

    One comment I heard at some point is that the Germans have been playing with THIS ball since January! Capello missed a trick there as they said it has totally different characteristics…….

  7. Rasp says:

    Hi again dandan,

    A knock out format would mean less games and therefore lower revenue for the host nation. S A is still a poor country, I’d hope the collective revenues of this WC paid for the new stadiums and there as enough money left over to inject into development projects.

  8. Pat7 says:

    Rasp – yes, I was on site when the discussion went on & had forgotten about it when reading with confusion this morning before the penny dropped!

  9. Pat7 says:

    Capello has put his weight behind a winter break which AW has been on about for ages & after England’s sad display maybe that will be the tipping point but it can’t be done before next year now. Additionally the EPL have to vote it through…….money involved!

  10. dandan says:

    Unfortunately they wont Rasp. But ever was it thus with politicians, Blatter is now the Bernie Ecclestone of football. Dispensing his largess where ever the return is appropriate. did you notice he is standing for election again, which means he will get in, because no national FA will vote against him less they harm their own standing with him.

  11. Goonoo says:

    excellent write-up. but 1998 and 2006 better than 1994! Eh??

  12. GF60 says:

    @Dandan
    Couldn’t agree more about the vuvuzela but had to smile at a letter to the editor:

    Dear Sir
    People are so inconsiderate. I paid a great deal of money to attend a vuvuzela concert. It was totally spoilt by idiots playing kickball. Yours etc etc

    @Pat7
    Not Capello’s fault nor even the FA’s for a change. A contract was enforced by(I think) Mitre which meant that they weren’t allowed to use the wc ball until mid May.
    Personally I think it would have made little difference to any of England’s performances.

  13. Pat7 says:

    GF60 – Thanks for that info’ but agreed it wouldn’t have made much difference to ours’. It would contribute however but the total staleness/nacked look HAD to have been one of the main reasons for our poor dislay.

    You’ve only got to look at our spritely start last season compared with most of our other performances – being second to the ball all the time takes its toll!

  14. Erichero says:

    I think Vuvuzelas in the prem would be a bad idea, simply because the singing culture is enough. In South Africa (I’m a Saffer) it’s a perfectly normal part of the culture and will be there to stay. I don’t have a problem with banning them at European games, but I do have a problem moaning about them at the World Cup.

    As for the football, I think fans are to blame for the negative soccer. What teams are willing to take the risk of attacking football (and it is a risk, no doubt), when they will face a barrage of media when they lose. If you think the football has been mind-numbing, spare a thought for the torrent of drivel coming through in the media. And how was Chris Waddle’s comment: “You can’t win a game playing at 100 miles an hour”… shocking, what ineptitude.

  15. Jay-Jay says:

    Howdy folks:

    I’ve been torn between two opinions personally. The majority of the group stage games have been failry dissapointing, drab and dull affairs, yet the knock-out stages, in particular the quarter-finals, have been exciting.

    I’d agree that there has been a dearth of scintilating individual performances – I’m at a loss to pick a stand-out player – but the tournament itself has been far from bad, just perhaps not a great as we’d hoped.

    On another note, I really like the fact you guys welcome pieces written from outside contributors and I’d like to sumbit one myself if that’s OK with you. I’m writing it at the moment and I’ll E-mail it through later.

    Thanks.

  16. kelsey says:

    Hi Jay Jay,

    look forward to receiving your post .

    One only hears from Blatter what he wants people to hear,and generally I agree with dandan.

    Is a third place play off really necessary. If it was a semi or a final, we might have seen a different game.

    Africa is a very diverse continent and for example the culture of Algeria is quite different to Nigeria which again is different to the host nation.

    Then the qualified African countries all had non african coaches, some brought in at very short notice. (Yes I know 2 years on Capello still can’t speak English).

    I made a point about the ball yesterday, and yet again it was highlighted on BBC that these national keepers can’t all be that bad in their failure to literally grasp the ball.

    A tournament for the whole of Africa where the majority of Africans found it hard to even obtain tickets let alone afford them, doesn’t sit well with me.

    So now you have an all European Final, and please note both coaches are representative of their countries.That tells me something.

    When i watch Spain, i see Arsenal on a good day, and they play as a team, even though they are highly paid by their clubs,there are no prima donnas.They seem to find each other effortlessly.

    Holland have key men in Robben and Schneider and to have any chance tonight they need to take control early and score and put the pressure firmly on the favorites .Having said that, Spain have an awesome bench, and for that reason alone, i favour them as they can literally change a game by their use of subs, as they have already proved.

    Finally the renown referee Howard Webb will represent England tonight, and the media are interviewing every living person who has ever spoken to him.A bit like “This is Your Life” 🙂

  17. Rasp says:

    Hi Jay-Jay,

    Yes, we actively encourage new writers and you would be most welcome. We’ll send you an email or you can just send it using the link in ‘Be our Guest’ at the top of the page.

  18. Jay-Jay says:

    On yet another note, I’d be more than happy to return the favour and host a post on my site, should any of you guys wish to do so.

    I could use a hand getting mine of the ground and would like a helping hand.

  19. London says:

    Howard Webb’s style of refereeing should favour the Dutch. The Spanish are so used to being awarded a free kick for the slightest contact and will start whining when this doesn’t happen.

    Referees of the Premier League are more used to the more physical English game and letting things flow far more than their Spanish counter parts.

    Every team in this World Cup so far who has played Spain has targeted Alonso for the first big crunching tackle early on, the rationale being that the referee will be lenient, not wanting to ruin the game, the guilty player using the excuse that it was the first blah, blah, blah.

    I expect the same to happen tonight, how long do you think it will take for Van Bommell to crunch into Alonso’s ankles? I am going for less than ten minutes……do I hear nine?

  20. Jay-Jay says:

    Back to the post:

    I’m with dandan when he say that the rythmn of Africa is the drum and not some bloody infuriating trumpet.

    I hope most clubs in Europe take a leaf out of Borrisia Dortmund’s book and ban them from the ground entirely.

    The third/fourth place play-off does appear a pointless luxury, but given the fact it invariably produces a really good game, I’m all for it.

    The final itself, well, I’m rooting for the Dutch. I’m not quite sure, whether it’s simply just blind didain for some of their players, but I really don’t want Spain to win. I couldn’t dispute they’ve reached the last game through merit, but occansionally they’ve served up moments we, as the viewing public, have been less than impressed with – Torres and Sergio’s dives in particular. Plus I have an apoplectic and inexplicable hatred for Xavi – he just looks like someone you’d really enjoy punching.

    The Nerthelands on the other hand may not have been electrifying, but they have been workman-like and efficient. Hopefully they’re saving a bit of matador football for Spain.

    Spain will probably win and employ their tippy-tappy football for 90mins, thus preventing the Dutch from ever seeing the ball. I doubt the match will be a classic, but I’m really looking forward to it nonetheless.

  21. London says:

    Jay-Jay

    I wouldn’t hold your breath for that one, it is hard enough to get enough head line posts here. So, if it doesn’t happen it won’t be anything personal.

  22. 26may1989 says:

    Group stages in the WC (like the CL) are often not very interesting, and I like the idea of a pure knock out competition. But that would mean increased chances of random teams appearing later on, which many would hate, preferring to see the giants of world football clash in the latter stages.

    Plus many people from the more minor footballing nations enjoy the group stages, knowing that they represent the culmination of their teams’ efforts. The views of those people can’t be ignored in what is the global game.

    Erichero raises a good point: if there is one group of people that has had a bad WC (other than French and English players) it’s the tv pundits. Charmless, ignorant and irrelevant, the lot of them (exempting the great Lee Dixon). Mark Lawrenson has been a personal hate figure, actually surpassing his usual levels of xenophobic stupidity, but I’m sure others will have their own objects of derision.

  23. London says:

    Erichero

    Negative what?

  24. 26may1989 says:

    Some suggestions for a player of the tournament:

    Schweinsteiger
    Müller
    Özil
    Messi
    Forlan
    Sneijder
    Robben
    Paston (NZ goalkeeper)
    Villa
    Pedro

    It’s a cliché but am genuinely happy for either side to win tonight as long as it’s a good game and neither one of our guys gets injured. I also hope Webb doesn’t do a Graham Poll and embarrass us.

  25. Hi guys, sorry I’ve been soaking up the sun.

    Jay-Jay you know you’re more than welcome to write a headline post – I’ll make sure there’s a link to your own blog – so write away. I did email you last month when I found your comment in Be Our Guest – maybe it went into your spam.

    London – we want to give everyone the chance to put forward their opinion, sometimes that needs a post rather than just a succession of comments.

    Anyway gorgeous day, been drinking Pimms so don’t expect to much sense out of me 😉

  26. London made a good point earlier that having Howard Webb as a referee could favour the Dutch as we know to our cost that English refs allow a more physical approach to the game.

    Will the spaniards get fed-up with trying to win free kicks all the time and actually roll their socks up.

    Can’t wait – love football 🙂

  27. Jay-Jay says:

    Peaches:

    It’s all done and I’ve sent it to the E-mail listed.

    Hope you guys like it! 🙂

  28. Thanks Jay-Jay – I did email you ages ago, were you gearing yourself up or maybe you didn’t get it or maybe you were being shy 😉

    I had a look around your blog this morning and its really good. You just need some exposure – you’re welcome to expose yourself here for as long as you wish 😉 Have you contacted NewsNow about picking your post up, i’ll email you the contact details for ArsenalNews – he’s pretty good and helpful to new blogs.

  29. London says:

    Jay-Jay says:
    July 11, 2010 at 2:57 pm (Edit)

    On yet another note, I’d be more than happy to return the favour and host a post on my site, should any of you guys wish to do so.

    ————————————————-

    London says:
    July 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm (Edit)

    Jay-Jay

    I wouldn’t hold your breath for that one, it is hard enough to get enough head line posts here. So, if it doesn’t happen it won’t be anything personal.

    ————————————————-

    peachesgooner says:
    July 11, 2010 at 4:54 pm (Edit)

    London – we want to give everyone the chance to put forward their opinion, sometimes that needs a post rather than just a succession of comments.

    ————————————————–

    Peaches

    What on earth makes you think that I wouldn’t want to give everyone the chance to put their ideas forward?

    Please explain?

  30. kelsey says:

    I think that you misunderstood each other.

    If I am wrong, I apologise.

    I think London was saying to Jay jay that it was sometimes difficult for us on Arsenal Arsenal to always have a daily post, but nevertheless we do, and therefore at this moment of time it would be even harder to submit a post to Jay jay’s blog.

  31. London says:

    Thank you Kelsey

  32. 26may1989 says:

    60 minutes into the Final and it’s like watching Arsenal v Bolton – you just know the side with all the possession and on the receiving end of the rough stuff is running a serious risk of being turned over….

    One thing it definitely isn’t is a good game.

  33. Jay-Jay says:

    Completely agree with that, it’s fucking dire.

  34. tommystout says:

    this is exactly why arsenal don’t win the premiership year in year out.
    we have too many referees like webb who let the thuggery go.
    if arsenal played in la liga or italy they would win the league more often than not.
    Come on the FA, you have to assess the refereeing standards in the premiership.

  35. dandan says:

    Dont blame the ref you can bet your boots, Webb is under orders from Blatter and co. not to ruin the final by sending any one off if at all possible.

    Oh dear Fab just missed a sitter

  36. 26may1989 says:

    Poor final, picked up in quality either side of extra time, but right side won in the end, and Cesc got the assist. The Dutch were desperately disappointing, and sorry to say, since he’s a long way from being the worst ref around, Webb’s performance wasn’t good enough.

    Well done Spain, well done Cesc. Now get home and forget about all that Barca crap and lead us to the title in 2011.

  37. andy says:

    I was looking at the end to see whether Cesc and RVP embraced each other. I didnt see it happen. Did they ?

  38. tommystout says:

    good morning all, if anyone is around,
    my comments last night about the refereeing was not a singular attack on webb, it was just so similar to watching an arsenal blackburn/stoke game and seeing our total football players get bullied and bashed about without any protection from the referee, all for the sake of 3 points.
    i am just fed up with the leniancy of our referees, if the FA want pretty football, total football, then they have to change the refereeing standards, ok there would be a few red cards to start the season off, but the pay off would be worth it.
    I think webb had an impossible job last night and no doubt would have had prior instructions from the powers that be. But in the end it has to be those powers that be that have to change things.
    What cheesed me off most was seeing hanson and linekar and shearer all discusted at Hollands tactics, when do we see that reaction to Arsenal – Stoke/Bllackburn etc tc etc….

  39. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning TommyS –that was the first thing that struck me too – the sheer two-faced, hypocrisy of Hansen. All season long he’s been applauding the Stokes, the Blackburns the Birmingham Citys of the world for “getting in their faces” when they play us; Hansen has been repeatedly saying that it was a fair and right approach to use physicality and brute force to negate Arsenals passing game.
    Then, for some reason, he had a “Road to Damascus” type of conversion to the opposite view – what a shiester, at least Shearer was consistent in his opinion of how to deal with the passing/intricate style of a team. Perhaps Hansen should have conversed with Pullis last night and offered his new opinion of teams with physicality as their(one and only) tactic.
    No doubt all will be forgotten come August and Hansen will applaud the teams that kick us up in the air and break a few legs in the process.

  40. tommystout says:

    yeah good morning chary , im glad you agree.
    anyway glad the worldcup is over now and we can concentrate on real football.
    Do you think cesc will go? thats somewhat of an experience to share with the tappas

  41. SharkeySure says:

    Nice write up 26M

    Gotta disagree strongly about Uruguay ‘cheating’ though.

    Suarez handballed it and got sent off. Ghana got a chance to win the game from 12yds and didn’t take it.

    If Gyan had scored the penalty, would Uruguay and Suarez still have been villified so badly..?? In a word, No. Thats practically indisputable.

  42. charybdis1966 says:

    Well TommyS – my gut feeling is that he’s here for another season at least, but if we win something and/or bring in some class players both things may persuade Cesc to stay on further.
    Perhaps I’m a glass half full person on this question as some the blog world have been predicting Cesc was gone before the Word Cup, they swallowed the Gillian Ball bag story hook, line and sinker.
    But agree that it’s good the WC is finally over and that our players seem to have escaped injury unscathed.
    I’m quite looking forward to Barnet on Saturday now – let’s make this season our season, now everyone has seen the benefits of a quick, passing game.

  43. tommystout says:

    yeah good point charey about the benefits of a quick passing game….
    its like good won over evil in the end …

  44. Morning all

    Do you think cesc will go? thats somewhat of an experience to share with the tappas – tommy thats a great line, it could be the headline for a post 😉

    I think the pundits got on Holland’s back because they expected more from them in the way of beautiful football.

  45. tommystout says:

    thanks and good morning peaches. yeah i was kinda rooting for the dutch last night and hoping that cesc had nothing to celebrate. by half time though i was hoping that spain would win… it would have been wrong to hypocritical to condone the dutch.
    i think if cesc had started every game, the spanish would have walked this worldcup. For me it shows that arsenal play the right way – we can hold our heads high.

  46. charybdis1966 says:

    I saw this quote somewhere Peachy, although I don’t see how, as the narrative says, the last line is ambiguous, it’s probably just yet another Arsenal hating talentless hack letting his personal hatred for Arsenal out again :
    “The first thing I had to do after the final whistle was go to Robin. Instead of celebrating with my friends, I wanted to talk to Robin, because I felt he deserved this as well.
    “He has been injured a lot and if it wasn’t us he was playing against, it would have been different.
    “But as happy as I was, I was also sad for him. He deserved it as well. He just told me congratulations and to enjoy the moment.
    “I hope he has his chance again, because he is a great guy and a great leader.
    “He has been really unlucky with injuries and I hope he can have his moment in four years or two years.” However, Fabregas believes Van Persie may have to wait longer given the next generation of talent coming off the Spanish production line.
    “We have great players who are coming through and Spanish football is just growing,” he added.
    “This is the best thing which can happen to a football player. You can’t win something bigger.” As for where he will be playing next season, Barcelona target Fabregas was ambiguous.
    “All I can say is that this is for all the Arsenal players and fans, they are a world-class club. I am an Arsenal player and I am proud to be.”

    Anyway, tapas is over-rated and Paella suckes !

  47. SharkeySure says:

    Well said Tommy and Chary….I hardly listen to any punditry so I missed all that.

    I don’t listen purely because of the stupidity and hypocrisy of the panels – as you’ve highlighted.

    I have time for Lee Dixon, and I think Seedorf has been absolutely briliant, the rest serve absolutely no useful purpose at all.

  48. 26may1989 says:

    I was amazed to see that the Dutch coach has been slating the referee – when I criticised Webb, it was for not giving Spain sufficient protection and sending off a Dutch player earlier (either de Jong or Holland’s own Robbie Savage, Mark van Bommel). I assumed the booing of Webb at the presentation was from aggrieved Spanish fans, which I could understand. But apparently it was from Dutch fans.

    The Dutch have nothing to complain about, far from it: Puyol did foul Robben but Robben stayed on his feet because he could brush off the foul and thought he had a chance of scoring, so no obvious goal scoring chance was denied. He could have got Puyol sent off if he had decided to go down outside the area, but he went for the chance and in doing so kept Puyol on the pitch. And the decision that Elia, before the goal, was not fouled was a reasonable one, being borderline either way.

    The Dutch (who had been my pre-tournament tip and I wanted them to do well) deserve all the criticism they are getting today, and if they don’t have the good grace to acknowledge that their anti-football deserved far more than a 1-0 defeat and one red card, the footballing world will think even less of them.

    The Spanish were also at fault for the spectacle: they should have had the confidence in their superior talent to bring on Fabregas or Torres in place of one of their two holding midfielders far earlier in the game – that would have given them greater capacity to pull Holland’s six-man defensive unit around and find space to exploit. There would have been risks in doing so, but they should have gone for it.

    As a number have already observed, we Arsenal fans see the likes of Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, Alan Green and Graham Taylor saying the right thing about yesterday’s game as being more than ironic when contrasted with their reactions to the same thing happening when Arsenal are subjected to tactics built on sustained fouling. To repeat the observation of others, how many times have we been made to listen to people like them defending precisely the same tactics when employed against Arsenal, even to the extent of shattering the bones of skilful young players? Do these people not hear what they’re saying when they criticise Holland? Just because Arsenal are perceived to be “too foreign”, we are expected to put up with all this shit, year in year out, serving as proxy for the impotent frustrations of those who still want our football played the Don Revie way. Maybe, just maybe, yesterday’s game, plus England’s dismal performance, will have an impact on some of those observers. I doubt it, but I live in hope.

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