Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
This week’s post for NotGraphs is a short story called “October 27, 2011” set during game 6 of the Cardinals-Rangers World Series. http://www.fangraphs.com/not/october-27-2011
When the World Cup began, my brain filtered things in favour of certain teams. I looked at the way the groups and knockout stages would work, and created a pick of the pops: I wanted England or Mexico to win. But realistically, I’d be pretty cool with seeing Messi play well and Argentina winning, partially for the frisson that would come from them winning it in Brazil.
When the groups ended, things got easier. My brain plopped down on one side or the other. I wanted Mexico to beat the Netherlands. I wanted Colombia to beat Uruguay. I would kinda like to see Algeria beat Germany. Without really giving it too much thought, my interest in the games chose a side. It just happened.
Why does my brain do that? On Saturday morning, I went to a bar downtown called El Jarrito to watch the Argentina-Belgium game. It started at 11am Mexico time. The bar didn’t really look particularly open. One of the metal shutters was still down. The other shutter, though, to the main entrance was open. And the TVs were on. An old man in a cardigan was sat near the bar at the far end. I asked him if they were open. He nodded and asked what I wanted to drink. He got up, went to the fridge and brought me an Indio. El Jarrito isn’t the prettiest place. The floor is kinda knackered. The tables are topped with old, broken Formica, and they have white, plastic, Sol-branded chairs. The gents kinda smells bad.
I thanked him for the beer, grabbed a chair from one of the stacks, and sat at a table facing the bigger of the two TVs. The Argentinian and Belgian anthems played. I really would’ve been happy if either team had won the game, but right there, as the players stood around waiting to kick off, my brain decided. Argentina.
It had done the same the day before. Brazil v Colombia: the latter. France v Germany: the latter again. The choice of Germany is an odd one for me. My view of the German national team has changed. My feeling towards the German team used to be firm. Based, probably, on our bullshit insistence on remembering that We beat Them in 1945. And We had another victory in 1966, but since then, the upper hand has not really been Ours. Sure, there was the 1-5 in Munich in 2001, but really, in my lifetime, Germany has always been better than England at football. The German team is what the English team could be if whatever it is that goes wrong with them didn’t go wrong every time. And when Germany beat England in 2010, it was kinda cathartic. I wish we didn’t have that not-given-goal to look back at and give us a “what if..?” England were well beaten, and it somehow cut free the weight of hating the German team. Instead, it made me realise, way too late, that they aren’t the ones at fault.
England’s football history is full of shitty performances and occasional “unjust” defeats. Games where we can blame something for nearly (but not) winning. We constantly talk about why this is. Is it the youth system? I don’t know for sure, but you look at the Costa Rica and US teams and you have to wonder. We could argue about it, but virtually every player at every position is better on the English team than either Costa Rica or the US team. But somehow, England did worse than both of those teams. We can’t blame the referee, we can’t blame penalties, we can’t blame the Germans. And it’s nice to accept that. To enjoy the German team now. And it also makes me feel bad about being a dick in the past to German friends about their team.
I wanted Germany to beat France. And, I kinda think I want them to beat Brazil, too. Nothing against Brazil at all, really. It’d just be nice to see Fifa’s perfect script torn up. It makes no sense in my own head, though. I look at the semi-finals and think I want Germany and Argentina to win their games. But I don’t actually want a Germany v Argentina final. I’d rather see a Brazil v Argentina final. That perfect Fifa script final. But, in reality, the only teams I’ve wanted to win along the way are both out. A Colombia v Mexico final would’ve been my preferred final. I enjoyed watching those teams. And none of the teams in the semis have been entirely convincing in the tournament. Apart from that first game against Spain, the Netherlands have been nothing particularly special. Maybe just getting through to the semis is enough; play well enough to get there and then see what happens. None of these teams are gonna be ones we remember as World Cup greats. The World Cup should be won by a series of moments, partial games. Colombia beating Uruguay, the Belgian onslaught against the US. Suárez’s goals against England. Tim Cahill’s goal.
Maybe it is just about winning. Which is kind of sad for me. Winning at all costs takes the joy out of things. It’s Harold Schumacher. It’s Jose Mourinho. It’s Arjen Robben throwing himself around to cheat his opponent instead of staying on his feet and actually doing what we all know he can do: play football brilliantly.
I am aware of the hypocrisy, obviously. Players on teams we don’t like, we have harsher opinions of them. I, like you, don’t like all the diving in football, but we kinda turn a blind eye when players on our favourite teams do it, and we jump all over it when players on other teams do it. Especially teams we don’t like. Arjen Robben has played for Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich. A trio of teams that are incredibly easy to hate. It’s the cynicism, though, isn’t it? Any advantage I can get here, I’m going to take it, no matter how fair it is. I can see the other side of the argument: we somehow hate Robben more for no real reason, that he’s only doing what other players do, except he does it “better.” I don’t buy that. Robben is a fantastic player. But he will always be primarily remembered as a diver. Same with Suárez, really. No matter what he does, he’s gonna be the biting guy. I think the distaste for Robben is about the professional athlete that never happened in all of us. Damn, if I had his talent, I would absolutely want to be remembered for that talent, not for being a melodramatic cheat.
After the Netherlands v Mexico game, Robben talked about and admitted diving in the first half, and ended by saying “I apologise for the action in the first-half but that’s football …” That’s football!? That’s like a drug dealer saying “that’s smackheads!” after selling someone some heroin. Absolving yourself of responsibility by blaming it on the culture you helped, if not create, then promote. The ugly cynicism in those words is what makes him so easy to hate.
My behaviour, though, also needs to change. I want to stop choosing a side “just because.” I want to be able to sit down and watch Brazil v Germany and have no rooting involved, just enjoy it. Not get annoyed if the “wrong” team wins. And to refer to my behaviour as the equivalent of “that’s football…” is to admit that I will never improve my behaviour. And I can’t admit that, I won’t. I will always have flaws, but to not see that and not actually make attempts to change makes me no better than Robben’s non-apology. An apology that says, “yeah, soz, but I’m gonna keep on doing this.”
Adidas, we need to talk about the thin stripe across the shoulder blades of every kit you have designed for teams in the World Cup. Why is it there? Not got enough stripes on all of your kits? But it’s not just you who does this. Other kit manufacturers get too fussy, too.
It seems to be in our nature as football fans, sports fans, human beings, to get annoyed when anything changes. Team crests, for example. Arsenal’s cannon is facing the wrong way these days. Manchester United lost the words “Football Club” off their crest. Everton fans got riled up when their team’s crest was re-designed last year. Liverpool’s crest grew and grew over the years, and in that growth included–rightly–two eternal flames for the 96 Hillsborough victims. And with a new kit manufacturer (Warrior) the crest was pared back to a beautiful and simple Liver bird and L.F.C. But that meant we lost the flames. As a design, I prefer the return to a simpler crest, but as a fan, I wish the flames were still in there. But they are now on the back of the neck, either side of the number 96.
As someone whose work is vaguely design-related, though, I can also see that things need to change. A wee bit of tinkering, modernising, refreshing, seems like something we should be doing now and again. Cardiff City fans, rightly in my opinion, are resistant to their owner’s decision to change from blue to red shirts. That’s not a wee bit of tinkering, though. Which brings me to the World Cup kits.
The teams at the World Cup are representing their countries. And the sports manufacturers are fucking with things. Spain have red shirts and blue shorts. That’s how it is. But not this time. This time they had red shorts. England have dark blue shorts. But not this time (or last time, actually); this time they had an all-white kit. Germany are supposed to have black shorts. This time, they too are all white. Brazil, the home nation with the most iconic of all international kits should have yellow shirts, blue shorts, and white socks. But they’ve played their last three games with white shorts. That’s not Brazil. In this era of brand management, you would think that Fifa would understand that one of the key things about the World Cup is our ability to instantly recognise a kit. Yellow-blue-white: Brazil! Yellow-white-white: err, who’s that? These things are fundamental in our collective memory of World Cups. What is a World Cup if these memories, the history, don’t exist? (Well, aside from a way for Fifa to rock up into a country and scrape every possible penny from under that nation’s collective sofa.)
The design of kits seems all about letting the manufacturers do whatever they want. Within reason. I don’t understand why goalkeepers, who obviously need a slightly different kit, wear a uniform that is so often totally unrelated, design-wise, to their outfield brothers? If you mixed up the goalie kits and blurred the team badge, it’d be kinda tough to guess which keeper belonged to which team. Not only does this make for unnecessary ugliness, it seems to me to be missing an opportunity. I have no data for this, but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that of all the replica jerseys, the goalkeepers’ jerseys are the ones that sell the least. If Adidas and Nike and Puma, etc. gave it a bit more thought, there is a potential revenue stream there that benefits everyone. Make the goalie kit look like an essential part of the team, just like the person wearing that kit is an essential part of the team.
Maybe, though, my feet are just stuck in the mud. Maybe I just don’t want to accept change. And change looks good sometimes in hindsight. I remember disliking the the 1990 Germany home and away jerseys at the time. I look at them now and really like them. I can’t ever say I will truly dig, though, the Nike jersey for Portugal this time around. It just seems so cynical that the two tone stripes somehow pause to allow for a lighter red band wide enough for the Nike logo to appear unsullied on a plain background. Something they neglected to do for the country badge on the other side. It just seems to me, as design elements go, to be so disrespectful and so blatantly about promoting themselves. Or, maybe I’m spending too much time staring at a screen with moving images of football players on it. Maybe, right?
I wrote a post about this photograph in May 2013. It’s a deceiving photograph.
Later this week, those two teams play each other again. So, self-promotion!, here’s a link to that post again:
We are down to the last eight teams. All the group winners got through. Fuck you, Holland.
So, the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals:
French Republic v Federal Republic of Germany
Federative Republic of Brazil v Republic of Colombia
Argentine Republic v Kingdom of Belgium
Netherlands v Republic of Costa Rica
In 1914, it would’ve been:
French Third Republic v German Empire
Republic of the United States of Brazil v Republic of Colombia
Argentine Republic v Kingdom of Belgium
Netherlands v Republic of Costa Rica
And in 1814:
First French Empire v Confederation of the Rhine
State of Brazil v Viceroyalty of New Granada
United Provinces of the Río de la Plata v First French Empire
Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands v Viceroyalty of New Spain
Kingdom of France v Holy Roman Empire
State of Brazil v New Kingdom of Granada
Viceroyalty of Peru v Spanish Netherlands
Republic of the Seven United Netherlands v Viceroyalty of New Spain
Kingdom of France v Holy Roman Empire
Governorate General of Brazil v Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru v Spanish Netherlands
Republic of the Seven United Netherlands v Viceroyalty of New Spain
Kingdom of France v Holy Roman Empire
Indigenous peoples of what is now Brazil v Province of Tierra Firme
Indigenous peoples of what is now Argentina v Habsburg Netherlands
Habsburg Netherlands v Indigenous peoples of what is now Costa Rica
(All of this was “researched” by quickly looking at Wikipedia, so, y’know, sorry, actual historians. Feel free to correct me in the comments.)
Luis Suárez appeared to bite that Italian fella. I only say “appeared” because, guess what, I didn’t see it from an angle where I can be sure. And those marks on Chiellini’s shoulder? Well, the not-hi-def images I’ve seen aren’t conclusive. I can’t be absolutely sure they are bite marks. Everyone has already convicted him, of course. I’m not denying it appears likely that he did it. And I’m not defending him, and I’m very specifically not defending him because he plays his club football for my favourite team.
What I will say though—and this is not a hot sprots take, obviously—is how bloody dull everyone became yesterday after it happened. It was Twitter at its most tedious. Vampire! Hannibal Lecter! #Food #Brands using it for the same un-hilarious “If you’re hungry, Luis, why not try our chocolate-coated fried pork in popcorn batter! LOL.” The moral high ground was staggeringly over-populated; border guards were having trouble keeping up with the visa applicants. Everyone is allowed their opinions of course. I am expressing mine now.
Twitter is at its best, I think, when it feels like you’re having a chat in your living room, just that the people you’re chatting with are in various places around the world. That’s a good thing. When Internet moral outrage takes hold, though, I can’t be arsed with it. Go at it all you want. Knock yourselves out. But that’s when I close the browser window cos your unique opinion on Luis Suárez is fucking tedious.
Sadly, Suárez took away from other things that happened:
England didn’t lose. Yay!
Italy got knocked out. Yay!
Costa Rica won! the! bloody! group!
And the awesome-looking Colombia now face Uruguay in the Round of 16. That section of the Round of 16 is gonna fun as hell: the winner of that game facing either Brazil or Chile in the quarters. Much as I love the country of Brazil, I’m kinda hoping we see a Chile vs. Colombia quarter final. And if Ecuador get out of Group E—making it six out of six South American countries getting out of the group—they could meet Argentina in the Round of 16. That’d be fun. I wonder how much fun, though, these games will be for South Americans. Would they see these as chances to beat rivals on the big stage or would they all rather have the chance to play teams who aren’t from CONMEBOL?
And, oh yeh, congrats Greece, your presence in the Round of 16 is something everyone has been hoping and praying for…
Mexico won. In a cheap bar in the downtown Centro Historico part of Mexico City, we chugged down Tecates, ate peanuts, and eventually jumped up and down as Mexico beat Croatia
3-0, oops, I mean 3-1. We paid, and joined the throng of people leaving the Zócalo and heading to El Ángel de la Independencia, a nearly four kilometre walk which, due to the amount of people, really managed to mess with the traffic. Heading to El Ángel is something of a tradition when Mexico wins something. They won a group game yesterday. A group game.
You may have read that Fifa, that most discerning of bodies, decided to drop its charges of improper conduct with regards to Mexico fans at the World Cup shouting “puto” when the opposing goalkeeper takes a goal kick. That’s a shame, really. It would be good if something was done about this. It has occurred at every football match I’ve ever seen in Mexico. And, as far as I can tell, it’s hardly ever discussed. A few people I’ve spoken to about it don’t see it as a big deal, but, y’know, that’s what people say, isn’t it? Washington Redskins fans who want to keep using that horrible name will say it’s not a big deal. But as we walked toward El Ángel, the hordes shouted that word fairly regularly. One can’t say if it’s a knee-jerk, cornered, kind of fuck-you reaction to being slightly chastised by Fifa, or whether the people were just shouting it as a matter of course. Either way, Mexican football fans are, for the immediate future, still gonna use that word, and I just hope that the fact that this topic has come up during a World Cup may mean that we have started the long journey to stop shouting “puto.”
As people walked by Parque Alameda, a few of them noticed a Circle K. They began shouting “Chelas! Chelas!” Slang for “beer.” Before the store employees had time to react, the steps up to the place were full of fans. There was no real malice there, as the two or three employes seemed to fairly easily get twenty or thirty people out of the store and shut the doors quite quickly. Not quick enough, though, to stop the beer fridge being looted.
But, all in all, it was an incredibly good-natured and fun time. As an English person, it’s kinda nice to see a football victory being celebrated with such joy. It may seem, from the above two paragraphs, that it was all kinda crappy, but that’s totally not true. People danced, took photos with strangers, kicked balls and balloons around, honked car horns, sprayed foam everywhere, and whenever a TV camera appeared, went utterly bonkers in front of its lens.
Whenever I see the Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, I can’t help but be reminded of this Lard twelve-inch sleeve.
During the 2006 World Cup, when I was living in Berlin, Call a Pizza, a pizza delivery place, did a special pizza for all of the teams. I wrote a blog post about at the time. Here is what those pizzas looked like. I remembered this yesterday, and thought, I wonder if… and yes! they are doing it again! Kinda regret not remembering it during the 2010 World Cup now, really. This could’ve been an ongoing four-yearly feature…
First thing to note is that when you look at their pizza list: there’s no Brazilian pizza. What they have done, though, and you can see it on their main page, is the thing below, an 8-inch “pizza” with “fine cinnamon and sugar, fresh bananas, and creamy Mozzarella balls.” That sounds bloody disgusting. I really don’t like cinnamon anyway, but even taking that off wouldn’t make this any tastier. In 2006, their Brazil pizza had broccoli, onions, peppers, sweetcorn and olives. Not particularly Brazilian-y.
So, let’s have a look at the others, shall we?
Pizza Germany: margherita with double salami
A simple pizza. No nonsense. Also, exactly the same as the Deutschland pizza in 2006.
Pizza Chile: margherita with ham, mushrooms, artichoke, olives, and pepperoni
Are any of these relevant? I don’t know.
Pizza Belgium: curry sauce, Edam, fried curry chicken breast, pineapple, and cheese
Okay, the first sign that we are dealing with a madman of a chef. For one thing, Edam is Dutch, not Belgian. And, of course, this pizza needs more waffles on it.
Pizza Ecuador: spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, crispy bacon, and onions
In 2006, the Ecuador pizza had ham, mushrooms, and jalapeños.
Pizza Croatia: margherita with ham, pineapple, and cheese
In 2006, the Croatia pizza was exactly the same as the 2014 Ecuador pizza, except without the Edam. That makes sense.
Pizza Switzerland: fine tomato sauce, Edam, Gorgonzola, Hirtenkäse, and creamy Mozzarella
That’s a lot of cheese. Only difference between this and the 2006 one is they’ve replaced Feta with Hirtenkäse.
Pizza Japan: margherita with tuna and onion
Exactly the same as 2006.
Pizza Ghana: margherita with ham, spinach, and a fried egg
Now that’s a pizza! Way better than the Ghana pizza in 2006: honey mustard sauce, cheese, chicken, mandarins, and mozzarella
Pizza Greece: margherita with seafood and fresh garlic
I don’t like the word “seafood” here. Too vague.
Pizza England: margherita with crispy bacon and fried egg
Obviously. And the same as 2006.
Pizza Portugal: margherita with salami, ham, fresh mushrooms, and pepperoni
I’m not really feeling the occasional use of the word “fresh” at Call a Pizza. It seems to highlight that the other stuff isn’t fresh. In 2006, it was ham, spinach, and egg.
Pizza Colombia: margherita with ham and fresh mushrooms
I feel obliged to say “what: no cocaine!?” here.
Pizza Argentina: margherita with spicy beef, onions and cheese on top
Same as 2006. Beef. Argentina. Well done.
Pizza Australia: with fine tomato sauce and baked Mozzerella, and topped with Serrano ham, rocket, and fresh grated Grana Padano
Last time it was Mozzarella, rocket, Parma ham, parmesan. So pretty much the same, just with fancier descriptions.
Pizza Côte d’Ivoire: margherita with onions, fresh peppers, broccoli, sweetcorn, and olives
in 2006, they went for spicy beef, sweetcorn and jalapeños.
Pizza Italy: margherita with red onion, fresh cherry tomatoes, topped with pesto and fresh grated Grana Padano
Eight years ago, they kept it simple: tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil.
Pizza Spain: margherita with Tabasco sauce, pepperoni and spicy jalapeños
This exact combination of ingredients was the Mexican pizza in 2006.
Pizza Iran: spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, spicy Sucuk (Turkish sausage), crispy onion, and spicy jalapeños
I would like to know how many people bought the Iran pizza in 2006. It had curry sauce, “grilled curry chicken breast,” pineapple and extra cheese. As for the 2014 edition: Iran isn’t Turkey.
Pizza Algeria: spicy barbecue sauce, Tabasco sauce, Edam, grilled chicken breast, and pineapple
I’ve written about every other pizza so far, so here are some more words.
Pizza Costa Rica: spicy barbecue sauce, Tabasco sauce, Edam, crispy bacon, spicy jalapeños, and crème fraîche
Sounds like a spicy, sloppy feast of fun, that. Better than 2006’s ham, pineapple and extra cheese job.
Pizza Honduras: margherita, spicy pepperoni, hearty Cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, and creamy Mozzarella
Not really sure if the word “herzhaftem” is referring to the Cheddar being hearty or savoury here.
Pizza United States: margherita, pepperoni, delicious beef, spicy Chester, crispy onion, cheese on top, barbecue sauce, and crispy bacon
Just throw everything that’s nearby on there, Florian, that’s what they do in the States, anyway. In 2006, it was pretty similar: BBQ sauce, cheese, salami, beef, more cheese, onions and bacon
Pizza Uruguay: creamy Hollandaise, Edam, pepperoni, crisy bacon, fresh peppers, and broccoli
I’ve been to Uruguay. It was very nice. Can’t remember this being similar to their cuisine, though.
Pizza Mexico: spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, pepperoni, grilled chicken breast, onions, fresh peppers, and sweetcorn
Pizza Nigeria: honey mustard sauce, Edam, juicy chicken breast, sweet mandarins, and creamy Mozzarella
Interestingly, this was the Ghana pizza in 2006. Because Africa is a country.
Pizza Bosnia and Herzegovina: margherita with grilled chicken breast, spinach, a creamy Hollandaise, and crispy bacon
Things are just getting repeated now in slightly different configurations.
Pizza South Korea: spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, red onions, hearty/savoury Cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, topped with Block House steak pepper and crème fraîche
It was tuna, onions and salami in 2006, so I guess this is a bit more adventurous.
Pizza Netherlands: with a delicate Hollandaise, Edam, fresh broccoli, delicious white asparagus, and crispy bacon
A slight variation on the 2006 effort, they switched ham for bacon and added broccoli.
Pizza France: with a delicate Hollandaise, Edam, fresh mushrooms, and delicious green and white aparagus
In 2006, they did Hollandaise sauce, asparagus, peppers, artichoke and cheese. Neither the 2006 or the 2014 pizzas seem very French to me.
Pizza Funghi: margherita with fresh mushrooms
Now, call me unobservant, but I’ve not noticed Funghi playing at the World Cup.
Pizza Prosciutto: margherita with ham
Nor have I noticed Prosciutto. I assume it’s one of those microstates like Monaco, Andorra or San Morino. Well done, Prosciutto.
Pizza Margherita: margherita, obvs
Tomato sauce and Edam. And the only Queen playing at this year’s Fifa Corrupt Soccer Jubilee.
Pizza Russia: “stuffed pizza” with tomato sauce, Edam, salami, ham, fresh mushrooms, olives, and cheese on top
More of a calzone than a pizza. This pizza will attack any nearby homosexuals.
Pizza Cameroon: “stuffed pizza” with spicy barbecue sauce, Edam, pepperoni, beef, red onions, fresh peppers, with spicy jalapeños, creamy Hollandaise, and cheese on top
Too many ingredients, maybe?
All in all, it really just seems like they went to a warehouse and asked about a special price on everything. Having said that, I’m looking forward to checking back in with Call a Pizza in 2016.
It’s been a few days since one of these, but I kinda wrote a lot about watching the World Cup in the post I wrote for NotGraphs yesterday.
Anyway, England are out, which you know already. Here are two Mexican newspapers after the Uruguay game:
Now’s the time for two things: rooting for Mexico and letting the dark side take hold, so:
Please lose, Russia.
Please lose, Italy.
Please lose, Portugal.
Please lose, USA.
Fuck Arjen Robben.
And here’s something I remembered. In 2006, when I lived in Berlin, my local pizza place did pizzas for every nation in the World Cup:
I’ve been watching a Brazilian feed of a few of the games so far. I like how the Portuguese language sounds. I especially like the “-ão” sound. And I keep finding myself altering players’ names to include an -ão…
Robão vão Persão
And while we are here, it’s good to remember the best word in any language is a Portuguese word: saudade.
Wanna see an animation of a mutant Cristiano Ronaldo head on a pixelly snake set to a MIDI version of “Walk of Life”? Clickity click: http://flipflopflyin.com/ronalves/index.html
I mentioned the reason for the mutant head thingy in a post earlier today, btw.
First World Cup day without alcohol. A victory.
Saw this photo of Chicharito. Seems as if he’s morphing into Sylvester Stallone:
After the Germany-Portugal game, it was nice to see someone slowing down the film of Cristiano Ronaldo making a weird face.
The proximity of Bruno Alves behind Cristiano, though, kinda made me want to do a quick Photoshop job. So I did:
Seeing Ghana’s flag reminded me of a quiz drawing I did for my third book Atlas, Schmatlas (probably not available in all good book shops any more, but worth trying, I guess). Name the flags. Answers at the bottom of this post.
Inspiration for the United States of (the Part of the) America (s between Canada and Mexico)’s kit:
And that USA-Ghana game wasn’t Kyle Beckerman’s first appearance at this World Cup, y’know:
Flags, left to right: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Benin, São Tomé and Principe
Here’s an infographic about when in the calendar year each of the World Cups has taken place.
There have been times when I’ve tried not to give a shit about England. Good players playing boring football. And it has been easy. I made a concerted effort during the 2010 World Cup. Problem was, though, as soon as the England-USA game started, I couldn’t really stop myself wanting my home nation’s team to win. So this time, aided by such a big Liverpool presence in the squad, I’ve given in and will be pro-England. Not in a UKIP way, obviously. Look:
Three two lions on a shirt:
Day two and the time zones and game times were already taking their toll. After the opening game and beery celebrations, getting up and ready and prepared for being at a bar at 10am to stake out a decent seat for the Mexico-Cameroon game was tough. We went to a local place, arrived while they were still mopping the floor, sat down and ordered from their special World Cup special offers menu: a cubeta (that’s an ice-filled bucket with six bottles of beer in it) and one kilogram of campechano (a mix of beef and chorizo with beans and onions and tortillas).
That first beer was a good hairy dog. The bar started to fill up with people in green Adidas jerseys. Mexican TV spent a lot of time focussing on the Mexican people in the stadium. Wet Mexican people in the pouring rain. Wet Mexican people with huge sombreros: check. Wet Mexican people in Mariachi costumes: check. Wet Mexican people wearing Aztec headdresses: check. Wet Mexican people in luchador masks: check.
It was fun to be in a room full of people who cared about the result of a game that I didn’t care as much about. I absolutely want Mexico to do well, but I’m not Mexican, so I can’t care as much as they do. And the game was kinda how I’d expected. Mexico having chances but not scoring. Eventually when they did score, people went nuts. Relief. Then it was a matter of praying that somehow Chicarito might be able to score a goal (he didn’t) and Cameroon don’t get an equaliser (they didn’t).
On to a friend’s apartment for the second and third games of the day. I have nothing against the Dutch people. I have enjoyed their football in previous championships, but I can’t stand Arjen Robben. And Robin van Persie either, really. And now that their coach is gonna be the next Manutd manager, well, fuck the Dutch. But, of course, they had other ideas and made Spain look ordinary.
After that, the Chile-Australia game seemed to continue the fun for a bit, then petered out. We ate snacks, drank beer. And now, on the morning o the third day, I’m knackered, and thankful that after this afternoon’s England game, there’s a couple of days off the booze before Mexico-Brazil on Tuesday.
Couple of things: the goal line technology that Fifa is enjoying showing us is utterly ridiculous. They’ve only ever shown it for actual clear cut goals. That’s not why we need technology. It’s for goals like Lampard’s against Germany in 2010. That’s where it’d be useful, Sepp. But showing that you have the technology when it’s not needed just seems a bit desperate.
I drew an England badge. It’s pretty good, no?
Yesterday – WORLD CUP DAY! – we went to see an exhibit at the Museo Nacional de Arte. It was an exhibit of male nudes. There was an early-ish Picasso, a couple of small Cezannes, and some other stuff. It was okay. But a trick was missed. They totally should’ve tried to get sponsorship from a gym, who could’ve had a stall or something next to the exit, cos, I tell ya, there’s nothing like an exhibition full of male ideals to make you feel a bit not-ideal.
Art, though, of course, was just a wee snack before the main meal of the day. Brazil v Croatia. We’d given some thought to going to Zócalo, the big main plaza downtown where there’s a big screen, but in the end, hunger took us to Salon Corona. Some tacos, a couple of beers, and, “shall we go elsewhere?” “no, let’s stay here.” Pitbull on the telly, coming out of a ball, dressed like he was on holiday in Cancún. People around us in Brazil jerseys, cos everyone loves Brazil. Even the employees had fake Brazil jerseys with “Salon Corona” printed where the Nike logo would normally be.
Like a contrary bugger, I was rooting for Croatia. We got stiffed by the waiter who definitely overcharged us. Just like Croatia with the referee. I decided that we should make a stand, and rather than make an actual stand, we actually just didn’t tip him. On to El Jarrito, another bar. Yellow walls, a jukebox playing Spanish language stuff, and plastic garden chairs with Sol logos on them. Each chair was actually two chairs. Stacked. Not sure why. Girlfriend said it was because too many big dudes ended up breaking them.
Subway and a pesero microbus back to our neighbourhood. Another couple at a local bar. Some tacos at the stand across the street from the apartment. A great day. World Cup Day. And in about an hour, it’ll all start again. Back to the local bar where we’ll watch Mexico v Cameroon. People on the street below are in green jerseys and honking airhorns. It’s not even 9am.
Let’s see if I can keep this World Cup blogging up, eh?