This year’s so-called premier football competition (international-wise, anyway) has left a horrible taste in the mouth that, in my opinion, marks it as a low point in the history of world football.
Now, we’ve become used to widespread professionalism, which some people may term as ‘cheating’, in the domestic game. It’s something of a given, what with all the money and plastic fakery flying about, and the very nature of the FA Premier League in 2010.
But the World Cup, historically the gentleman’s competition, is meant to be a festival of fair play, an example of the spirit of the game we all know and (sometimes) love. Sadly there hasn’t been too much of that in South Africa.
And what are FIFA doing about it? Sweet Fanny Adams. Well, what else would you expect? Blatter and his cronies set a dangerous precedent when they decided not to penalise Thierry Henry or the French FA for the infamous ‘Hand of Frog’ in the slightest. In the process, they effectively condoned cheating, a benchmark for what would come in the 2010 World Cup: bad play acting and amateur dramatics aplenty coupled with officiating you’d usually see down at the Soccerdome on a Saturday afternoon.
You could point to the number of weak referees FIFA have appointed in the interests of ‘fairness’. I couldn’t see Howard Webb, for example, falling for the umpteenth dive or deliberate handball from a player clearly attempting to bend the rules in his favour in the same way a guy from, say, Mexico, who with the greatest respect would probably be relegated to his country’s third division having failed to award one of their ‘Big Four’ a 50:50 penalty decision.
Is it all fixed, WWE-style? Well, maybe I’ve been reading a bit too much of the Daily Mail (for research purposes, mind). However, I expected this World Cup to be a breath of fresh air from the diving, conniving style of the English Premier League. How wrong I was.
In summary, the players are a bunch of sissies that fall over under the slightest pressure before performing seven rolls in an attempt to get the other bloke sent off. A team of just three amateur officials, two of which are limited to running fifty yards in a straight line, can’t cope with it all, and are likely to make crucial, crucial mistakes, as we have seen in this competition.
Add to this a relatively unspectacular football tournament characterised by a lacklustre French side only there thanks to the wrangling of FIFA and an Italian outfit that would struggle to beat Latics’ reserve team, plus a match ball that seems as though it’s filled with helium and a crowd that prefer to blow horns than watch an actual game of football.
I think it’s fair to say I haven’t enjoyed this year’s World Cup. Still, there’s time for me to change my mind yet: the best is yet to come, you would think, what with the semis approaching faster than the 16:32 to Wigan North Western (which isn’t that fast, but anyway…). I ain’t holding my breath, though.