Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Blog: 10 things that will ruin the World Cup


With the World Cup in South Africa almost upon us, I thought I would apply my normal positive take on things that are likely to ruin it for me.  These ten things will happen at some point, are not restricted to any one nation and are likely to result in me rather watching the blank screen than any more coverage.

  1. Star Player Burnout - We watch our favourite players performing all year round and the pressure on these guys to do amazing things every time they get the ball is immense.  Remember Ronaldo in 1998, Totti in 2002, Rooney in 2006?  Thought not.  After a full domestic calendar and the genius fixture pile up that the World Cup presents, expect burn out, injuries and some misses from the big guns.
  2. Dubious Refereeing Decisions - Match fixing?  Ask Lord Triesman.  What often ruins it for me is the lack of consistency in refereeing between nations.  The Premier League referee will let more physical challenges pass, the La Liga official will hand out red cards for sneezing near an opposing player whilst the Latin American referees encourage the use automatic weapons.  Expect to find yourself wondering what exactly "he gave that foul for" time and time again.
  3. The Fifa Family - Unfortunately, football is no longer for the fans.  It's all about "networking", "corporate" and "commercial" gain.  You will lose count of the amount of times you will hear the droning voices of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini during the tournament and how we should be thankful that they make everything possible.  In fact, the 2018 World Cup is expected to be awarded to their egos alone, so there's something else to look forward to.
  4. The Pointless Fixtures - The World Cup was great because it was a tournament of champions, team ethic and because of the sheer hard work needed to get there.  Now, we must endure an expanded format including pub football teams just like the Champions League.  This is not good, because it will only serve to humiliate teams like New Zealand.  This tactic of expanding the qualification places has nothing to do with widening the appeal of the game, it's about selling TV rights and sponsorship in as many corners of the world as possible.  How can this be in the interests of football or anyone?
  5. South Africa - I have nothing against South Africa, they are welcome to the World Cup largely on the understanding that they will return it.  The fact is that they have bigger problems, massive poverty, huge social divisions, an AIDS epidemic and murders more frequent than they can be reported.  "I know, let's take the diamond in the crown of world football there".  Utterly, utterly moronic.  Those who believe that "football will bring people together" are blinded by corporate greed rhetoric, and I invite you with this blinkered opinion to visit the areas in and around the gleaming stadiums a year after the final game is played.
  6. Penalty Kicks - So you've played countless qualifications games to make the World Cup, you've travelled thousands of miles, you've played through the Group Stages, Quarter finals, Semi's and you're in the final.  It's a draw.  And the best thing we've come up with after 150 years of football to resolve this is a penalty shoot-out?
  7. Inescapable Punditry - For the duration of the tournament, everyone you know will become a tactical genius and will know all about every player.  You will not be able to read a magazine, turn the channel or take a dump without hearing every eventuality from every half-wit.  No wonder suicides rockets after half an hours exposure to Andy Townsend/Stan Collymore/Adrian Chiles/Mark Lawrenson.
  8. Emotional Roller coaster - Your brain will trick you into thinking that your team are unbeatable.  All of the genius punditry you've heard, the newspapers you've read and the bets you've placed will point towards certain victory.  Your boys will score early reinforcing the visions, dreams and open top bus aspirations you envisage.  Then comes the disallowed goal; "that was never handball in a million years ref." And then that goal that "must have been offside" rifles into the top corner in the 92nd minute.  The world truly is against you.
  9. The World Cup Diet - You can be the healthiest person on the planet building up to the tournament.  Celery, laxatives and a donkey punch for breakfast could be your routine.  But come day 1 of the World Cup it will descend into a highly concentrated mix of gut swelling beer and complex carbohydrates.  Sugary drinks, crisps, pizzas and ample BBQ's will see your cholesterol levels swing more than Andy Murray and your doctor uttering the words "morbidly obese" by the tournaments close. 
  10. Inevitability - Much like the scene from the Matrix there will come the moment where you realise that "your boys" are "just a bunch of useless, overpaid...."  You will slam remote controls, angrily finish your beer and proclaim the referee a lover a children.
So there it is, your World Cup is ruined.

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