Football World Cup surprises
Raise your glass. Raise another. And another. Blow your vuvuzela. Make a noise. Fall over. Tomorrow morning will bring another new surprise. That is the Football World Cup, otherwise known as the soccer world cup.
Whatever you call soccer – see why soccer is called football – the Football World Cup is a celebration to behold. There are few occasions in the world where cultures are more feverishly united in blind emotion. War comes to mind, when principles are thrown aside. Same with banking.
But we’re talking sports here. When millions of people have their eyes glued on a ball that is the same size as the head of any of their kids… but gets more attention.
By some unintended travel plan I happen to be in South Africa during the 2010 Football World Cup. While the union in support of the Cup locally is a fascination in itself it is on the playing field (albeit via TV) where I discovered the greatest surprises about the Football World Cup:
1. The soccer players get paid hundreds of thousands but rarely score a goal, not at club level and hardly ever at the World Cup. They sometimes provide brilliant moments… but terrible hours.
2. Soccer players fall to the ground at the whim of the wind. I’ve seen netball players taking more hits and continue to play. In fact, I’ve seen bingo players taking more hits and continuing playing.
3. Players shout at each other in disgraceful anger but not one seems to be man enough to punch anyone. No balls.
4. The magic of water. Absolutely amazing. A player gets a scratch, tumbles down in apparent agony, drinks a sip of water and gets up like it was a miracle formula. Not even the best of wine – and I’ve spent a lot on good wine – has done that for me.
But you can’t take this away from the Football World Cup: it is more powerful than politics, more inspirational to its followers, and more entertaining than war.
The winner of the 2010 Football World Cup? John Helm, veteran TV commentator, who made sense out of the moments of madness.
Update 7/11/2010: In a game with a record-breaking 14 yellow cards, Spain became the world champions for the first time by beating the 10-man team of the Netherlands with one goal to none, following a spectacular closing ceremony that ended a cup hosting that South Africans can be proud of deservedly.