Monday, July 08, 2019

Three finals in a day

The Champions League final was the first match that I watched on TV since the World Cup Final. I was happy for friends who are Liverpool fans, but otherwise it did not do anything for me, besides an immense sadness that I have no interests any longer.
For the last month, nevertheless, I had started watching some football news as three interesting national team tournaments have been going on: the Copa America, the Gold Cup, and most interesting, the World Cup for teams made up of female players.
I carefully started watching the Copa America quarterfinals, when Argentina played Venezuela (two countries I have lived in), and Colombia played Chile (the country of my Mother and the country of y birth).
Argentina, and not least Messi, have been one of my great disappointments over the last years, and watching them against Venezuela made me support the "Vinotinto", who undoubtedly are a better team, but still lost to the lucky Argentines. And although I supported Colombia, I was not unhappy to see Chile progress. I watched both semifinals: Argentina lost as expected against a superior Brazil (although they did not play bad), while Peru played the best I have ever seen them play in defeating Chile 3-0. After a disgrace of a third place match between Argentina and Chile, Peru were no match for Brazil, who played well to win 3-1 today.
I like this Brazil side by Tite. They play quick modern football, using the qualities of their spectacular players, instead of the defensive destruction of Dunga or the overambitious arrogance of Scolari. With a good Brazil it might even be worth to watch football again....

It has been difficult to watch matches from the World Cup in France because of the time difference, but I have followed with interest as the tournament has had as much interest as it deserves. As I sat to watch the final this morning I must admit that I was supporting the Dutch, but also that it was always clear that the US ladies were by far the better team, winning 2-0, and they are deserved repeat winners in what in many ways has been a historical tournament.
But congratulations to the USA ladies; in particular I like Megan Rapinoe (as so many people do): she is a great player (better than so many, even men), but also a fantastic personality. She is the rare person who loves the sport, and knows that all the nationalism around it is just that: nationalistic crap. A well-deserved Golden Boot.

I started to watch the Gold Cup when the country I am currently in, El Salvador, started doing well: they defeated Jamaica and tied Curacao, and were set to go through with a tie against their arch-rivals of Honduras, who had already been eliminated. But El Salvador completely lost their nerves against Honduras, who trashed them 4-0, and then they both were eliminated to the delight of Jamaica and Curacao. I did not watch any matches until today's final between the two CONCACAF archrivals of USA and Mexico. It was a good and intense match which Mexico won 1-0 on a spectacular Jonathan Dos Santos goal. While Mexico were overall the better team, USA had some huge wasted chances to score, and one has to wonder, surely, how these guys get more in salary than the amazing USA soccer ladies....
Open discrimination lives on in football....

I enjoyed watching the matches today, but I still feel that football mostly appeals to the worst in people and that football is an all to open expression of everything that is bad in the world (which is an awful lot).

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Misogyny is alive and thriving

I recently heard that the best footballer in the world, Ada Hegerberg, has decided not to play in this year's World Cup for her country, Norway, because of what she describes as a lack of respect for women's football in Norway.
How is this not bigger news?
If any of the world's biggest players decided not to go to a World Cup for discrimination in the game, would it not lead to changes in the way the game is managed??? But not in football!
Remember that Ms. Hegerberg is from Norway, a country where women have a higher degree of equality than in other countries. So just think about some of the other countries, where outright discrimination is more or less taken for granted: Colombia, where the football association does not even take care of their female national team; the World Champions of USA, who are grossly underpaid by their male counterparts (who did not even make it to the World Cup); Afghanistan, where players were routinely abused.... And these are just the cases we know about...
Football has long traditions of discrimination for reasons of race, nationality, political allegiance, sexual orientation, and not least gender, where women's football was even prohibited until not long ago, and misogynistic comments are so common as to be institutionalized in the entire game (remember how it was ok to ask Ms, Hegerberg to twerk after winning the Balon d'Or!?). And despite advances over the last decade, all these things show that misogyny is not only alive, but even thrives as male chauvinism reacts against women footballers demand their rightful place alongside men in the world of football. The fact that Ms. Hegerberg has decided to fight against this by not going to the World Cup should send a strong message to the world of football: stop discriminating against the best because of their gender!
The World Cup will be weaker without Ada Hegerberg, but I hope her message resonates in a world of football where discrimination, in all its forms, is the norm, and the football world does so little to combat.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

El Salvador doing well

A few weeks ago someone said to me that they did not trust El Salvador´s national team. "Every country I have ever been in does well in football", I replied. Even though I have not been watching football for six months, and I continue my disillusion with the hate, commercialism and discrimination that football today is (I think it has been amply demonstrated lately, from players tax evasion, attacks on fans, open discrimination against women footballers, to racism against players without UEFA acting on it), I am still confident of the good influence I have on the football karma of the country I am in.
El Salvador is no exception.
Last week El Salvador played Jamaica in match they had to win to qualify to the Gold Cup, and they won 3-1 to qualify for the tournament. A few days later, El Salvador played the World Cup participants of Peru and won 2-0 to everyone's surprise (it appeared most of all to the team itself). I wish El Salvador´s football well. But they will probably fall into the exaggerated and aggressive nationalism that happens to everyone when they win in football. A country that has so much to offer as El Salvador, should care less about how 11 guys kicking a ball do.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The beauty of ignorance

Today someone whom I have spoken with about football in an earlier life asked me: "Have you seen that Real Madrid is down 0-3?"
"Who are they playing?" I asked earnestly.
He laughed, thinking that I was joking, and after a moment of hesitation I said something brilliant: "Well, they ain't been playing well since Ronaldo left".
He smiled and replied that indeed, this was not the same Madrid as last season.
I don't think he ever realized that I could care less, and that I have in fact not looked at the standings of any league since last year.
But I was curious: I see that Barcelona defeated Real Madrid to make it to the Copa de Rey Final, and that the Catalans are also leading the League nine points ahead of Real Madrid on third place (one behind Atletico Madrid).
Now, did this curiosity awake any desire to again take up the old passion that meant so much to me? Nope. As I looked at the table I was reminded of all the insults, abuses, excuses, reprimands, blame-games, schadenfreude and outright hate springing out from these results.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Club de Cuervos

I have not watched a match for months nor followed any footballing news (well, some news that basically show the real face of football) but I have to mention that recently I started to watch the Mexican comedy series on Netflix, Club de Cuervos, which is about a provincial football team in the Mexican top league, Los Cuervos, after the owner dies and his children take over the club. The show is hilarious, taking the piss out of the many hypocrisies of football, as well having many funny lines. If anything, it is much more entertaining than real football, and surely not as choreographed or full as hate as the real thing. I recommend it.