Monday, July 14, 2014

The Day After the World Cup: Football Hangover

I had really wanted to go to this World Cup, but unable to get a ticket I did not go. Still, I enjoyed as much as I could, taking vacation for the entire tournament, traveling to seven countries and seeing matches in Liberia, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, England and Denmark. I spent time with great friends, met a lot of people, discussed football, cheered and celebrated no matter who won.
It was a lot of fun. And in the end the World Cup is and should be about that: fun and celebration.
Too many people take it too seriously. And this was surely one of the things I disliked a lot about this world cup: many people, who never bother to watch football between World Cups, got overly excited about the tournament. Too often people had opinions about matches that were more borne out of prejudices and conspiracy theories and not at all on football knowledge.

This World Cup was not bad. I do not share the opinion of those who say it was one of the best. It had some drama, moments and a couple of historical matches, but only a few more than the previous three world cups. It was a far cry from 1986, better than 1990 and 1994, and barely a bit better than 1998.
There were many goals in the first round, but not that many absolutely brilliant ones. Too many goals were from set-pieces or defensive errors. The knock-out rounds were more disappointing, with many teams that did not risk much in the offense (Netherlands, Argentina, USA, Costa Rica, Greece...). In my view only Germany and Colombia, and to a lesser degree Chile and Mexico, offered anything close to entertainment and willingness to take risk. In the end this is perhaps because of the disappointing performance of teams that we expected so much more from: Spain, Portugal, and most of all Brazil.
In the end it is a sad thing to remember this World Cup for: The worst humiliation ever of the great Brazilians. We will all keep speculating about what happened, but it did not give me any sense of satisfaction.

In the end I think this World Cup has further confirmed what I knew already: the four-year event is a show appealing to nationalist passions, and the drama it engenders is the only reason for the event.
In footballing terms it has lost its way.
The best football is what you see in the big European leagues. Club football out-shined national football a long time ago.
And the majority of players, global citizens of today, also know this...

As a spectacle for football fans the World Cup is also losing its way: this was not the world cup of football fans, but of rich nationalistic blood suckers of the people. Greed and power rules FIFA, who showed their enormous distance to fans by its inconsistent disciplinary standards, giving prizes where they were not justified, and inexcusable excuses for excesses.
FIFA not only exists in a glass house; that glass house is on another world, totally disconnected from what happens on planet Earth.
But the show must go on. And the show will be on again in Russia in four years...

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