Tuesday, June 15, 2010


World Cup 2010

A couple of days ago, I was out doing some gardening, and a swarm of insects passed nearby. I was almost convinced there was a World Cup soccer match in the neighbourhood. I am paying reference to the main complaint about the World Cup games currently under way in South Africa.

The culprit is the dreaded vuvuzela. A small horn which has caused more controversy at the World Cup than any other single factor. Some of the players are seriously upset by the noisy little devices. The captain of the French team complained: “We can’t sleep at night because of the vuvuzelas. People start playing them from six o’clock in the morning”.

Soccer fans on this side of the Atlantic are starting to make noises of their own about the horns. Some resort to the mute button while watching the games on television. Others tolerate the buzz for a while, then turn off the set. Major advertisers are listening. They do not like to spend their dollars when no one is watching. The organizing body, FIFA, is also concerned about the complaints.

The concept is not new to North American sports fans. We have had long plastic horns in the crowd for many years. They also make obnoxious sounds. It is not fun to sit beside an eight-year-old who wants to honk into the horn throughout the game. If there were fifty thousand similar kids with horns at a football game, I would opt for ear plugs, or perhaps pinking shears.

Let us get to the games. There will be contests that will stun the experts. The United States played to a one-one tie with England in its first game. The Brits scored early, then played defensively. The Americans got their chance late in the game, rolled an easy shot at the British goal. The ball bounced off the keepers’ hands, spun towards the goal, and trickled into the net. Heaven forbid! Those damn Yanks! They should have been routed in 1776!

There have been a couple of other upsets, none too serious at this time. The final is not until mid-July. There are eight groups with four teams in each group, and a potential winner in almost every group.

Perennial challengers include: Brazil, Spain, England, Italy, Argentina, France, and Germany. South Africa scored the first goal of the championship, raising the spirits of the hosts. Mexico came back to tie; nonetheless, a moral victory for the South Africans.

There are twenty-four other contenders for the title. Some have little chance. But they are in the mix, having qualified in a series of contests prior to the World Cup. The calibre of play is still out of the reach of Canadian teams, even though there are some fine players in this country. Many play professionally, in North America, and in Europe. For several reasons, the Canadian soccer establishment has yet to put together a team good enough to represent this country at the big event. We are not alone. There are more than a hundred other countries in the same boat.

There are two Korean teams at the championship. Will Lee, the congenial proprietor of the Wellington Convenience store, will cheer for both teams, just not when they face each other. “They are both Korean teams. Of course I will cheer for them!” I mentioned that there were some South Koreans who could not bring themselves to cheer for North Korea, in the wake of recent political events. “Games of this nature, like the Olympics, give us a chance to pause, to forget about politics. This is sport, this is what is important at this time.” Sensible thoughts, in my estimation.

They will not shut off the television at Four Seasons Sports in Belleville until the games are over. Ike and Taso Christopher will keep a close eye on the event. Ike does not believe any one team will walk away with the title, although from what he has seen so far, he calls the German team “a real machine”. He added that the title is really up for grabs. “Definitely an open book at this time,” he added.

Every four years, soccer takes centre stage in the world of sport, and rightfully so. Because of the nature of the game, it can be played everywhere, almost any time.

Time to go now, I have to get my ear plugs. Enjoy!

James Hurst
June 15, 2010

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