Thursday, July 13, 2006

The World Cup, is over

Well the FIFA 2006 World Cup (soccer) is over and Germany can get back to normal after Italy defeated France in the final 5-3 on penalty kicks after player the full ninety minutes and both overtime periods tied at one. Germany (the host country) beat Portugal in the consolation game to come in third. This World Cup will certainly have some lasting memories; unfortunately a number of them aren't positive.

The moment where retiring French midfield virtuoso Zinedine Yazid Zidane ran in front of Italian defender Marco Materazzi, turned, then gave him a running head-butt in the chest; will leave the ugliest mark. Did he call Zidane "the son of a terrorist whore"; we will never know. This won't stop FIFA, however, from stepping in and investigating Zidane and possibly taking away his golden ball (for being voted best player in the 2006 World Cup by journalists) and investigating Materazzi. It was a sad way to end a historic career but Zidane could have done far worse by ignoring him, creating a confrontation on the field (cautions would have been issued to each), winning the match for France, and then letting the rest of the hyperventilating, religious fanatical world know exactly what Materazzi said.

The 2006 World Cup will also be remembered for the sheer number of ejections and cautions issued by the tournament's referees; and in tangent the hysterics of some noted players. England's Wayne Rooney will be remembered for stomping on Portugese player Ricardo Carvalho's junk. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo will be remembered for his "gamesmanship" (sissy flops) and for netting the winning penalty kick against England to put them out of the tournament. Did I mention Cristiano plays for Manchester United in the English Premiership? There was a lot of "gamesmanship" in this World Cup after an apparent drop from the last tournament. Opinions differ to the accepted level of "gamesmanship"; I fall dead on the side of "I hate it and it is ruining the sport". The Nike Jogo Bonito (the beautiful game) commercials leading up to the World Cup were prompting professionals to play beautifully and cut the crap – they seemed to have little effect. Call them "fouls" if you must but every time I see the acting and the attempts to embellish and the outright flops I just want to puke (especially if they lead to a goal). In almost every sport there is "gamesmanship" where you try to earn the foul to put your team in a prime position but too many take it too far.

For us Americans, it seems like the majority of us didn't give a crap about the 2006 World Cup. Many radio personalities and writers, sports and non-sports, couldn't wait to let loose about how boring soccer is and how nobody cares about the sport, etc. When the United States squad faltered out in miserable fashion many of the same writers were quick to judge things. But wait, I thought you didn't care about the sport – why do you continue to write about it? I don't get it.

When discussing the almost complete failure (they tied Italy, so it wasn't a complete failure) of the US Men's National Team there was plenty of blame to go around. Every player on the field shoulders the blame. The coaches should shoulder the blame. What happened? Instead of pointing fingers (I've already done that elsewhere, hee hee) I just want to thank former Columbus Crew and current USMNT and Fulham FC forward Brian McBride because he deserved better than this.

Yeah, the FIFA 2006 World Cup is over. In 2010 there will be another one with numerous friendly and qualifying matches leading up to it. Hopefully 2010 will bring a better feeling to the sport I grew up with and came back to.

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