Here on Saturday the Suarez affair was bubbling under a bit, but quietly. It appeared Liverpool had not had any documentation from FIFA so didn’t know how or if they could proceed, although they have been told they are not eligible to appeal against the ban. That strikes me as unfair, given that they are innocent this time and FIFA’s action hurts them more than it hurts Uruguay.
I do wonder if England’s stance against alleged corruption was playing on anyone’s mind when the decision was made. If Suarez played for Real Madrid would the decision have been the same? I’m not convinced it would.
Rob Hutchison, a Sunderland-supporting southern exile, is also a man of music. He found himself torn (but not, Natalie Imbruglia is relieved to hear, trust, ‘lying naked on the floor’) between Uruguay vs Colombia and Glastonbury. It all turned into Rob’s ‘super Saturday’ …
This should really have preceded Malcolm Dawson’s short, timely piece on the Luis Suarez biting incident. Monsieur Salut had assorted domestic crises, a heavy extractor fan falling in the middle of the night to smash the hob and my Mac’s refusal to accept the valid password for wifi access being only two of them. So here, out of sequence but welcome, are Jeremy Robson‘s thoughts on footballer’s teeth invading footballer’s flesh …
I said in my last post that I’m not a fan of the World Cup. That’s true but I do like football so I’ve watched the majority of games. One or two have been missed because of unavoidable clashes with the important parts of my life but, generally, TV schedules appear to have been adjusted so nothing competes with the football except maybe tennis, which I don’t watch. I’ve even recorded a few games which I couldn’t watch live and played them through afterwards.
And what are my thoughts on the games I’ve seen? To misquote Rick in Casablanca,
I’d probably be bored if I thought of them all.
There have been only a few games, and a few sections of games, that have fired my enthusiasm. Like I said, the spark, the fire, it’s just not there for me. Those few games and sections do include some tasty football from the big boys and there has also been some sterling (now there’s a pertinent word) action from the minnows in there with them. But there has also been enough to make my mind wander, which is how I’ve come to write this.
Spain going out. Well, well. That’s a blow for the “I can bore you more than you can bore me” school of football. I enjoyed them being taken apart by constructive teams who played good football.
The Netherlands and Chile were both part of the Spanish empire and had to fight long and hard for independence, so I suppose it’s a case of “the empire strikes back” but does it mean Spain’s teams’ imperious performances in this year’s European competition were a fluke? No, not by any means, but maybe next year some capable teams will be getting stuck in and conquering the conquistadors.
Uruguay were also under the control of the Spanish, fighting them and finally gaining independence in 1828 or thereabouts, after Portugal had annexed the territory to stabilise their giant next-door colony. England helped Uruguay in their struggle and in the treaty negotiations which gave them their freedom. Look how they’ve repaid us. I suppose that this time it’s a case of “the vampire strikes back”.
Uruguay, according to the book “Soccernomics”, have no chance of winning the world cup. Only the biggest countries (and even England’s not big enough to be one of them) can succeed. It’s all down to population, apparently. Tell that to Uruguay, (population 3.5 million) and also to Belgium, (population 10 million), which put Russia in its place.
Belgium, incidentally, grew out of provinces that stayed loyal to the Spanish Empire when the Dutch bit split off. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between Holland and France it became independent but remains split into Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and French-speaking Wallonia to the south. This doesn’t explain Fellaini’s hair although it might explain why he uses his arms like a windmill.
Meanwhile, back in South America, much of the central area was becoming free from Spain. After a lot of turmoil, including wars of independence and internal and cross-border civil wars a group of states evolved, one being Argentina. Argentina then laid claim to a group of islands off the coast on the grounds that in 1493 the pope had said Spain could have them and three hundred years later the Treaty of Utrecht had confirmed this (it hadn’t). This might explain why Spain supports Argentina’s claim to the Islands, but it doesn’t explain why Spain also says Gibraltar is Spanish when the same treaty gave Gibraltar to Britain.
Spain, Argentina and the state that is Stan Collymore also ignore the fact that the British, who didn’t agree with the pope in 1493, twice had possession of the Falklands, as they called them, before Argentina came into existence. So while I can see why Argentinian footballers might demonstrate I can’t understand why Stan Collymore should say we thieved them. Unless of course, he thinks he’s the pope.
But I digress. Let’s ignore the politics and the football and stick with the important stuff – the commentary and commentators. I’ve two awards to give out
Firstly, the most contrived comment from the World Cup award. France were well on their way to destroying Switzerland (the only country I’ve mentioned without colonial connections) and the commentator said
“ And not for the first time, there really is a mountain between France and Switzerland.”
I don’t know who the commentator was but next time he’s on I’m using the mute button.
Secondly, the World Cup sense of humour award. This goes to Martin O’Neil. You can see his worthy winning effort yourself:
And on that theme I’ll leave you for now. I’ll be in Spain for the final. Usually the bars put big screens outside and people gather and watch. Maybe they still will. Who knows, who cares.
OK, not quite out mathematically. Two more Italian victories, England beating Costa Rica, with the right combination of scorelines, would see us through if my maths is right. But still not a great night to be English …
Until England went behind just before half-time, a draw seemed the least to expect from a mostly scrappy match. Uruguay occasionally ruffled feathers in the England defence but the best approach work and attacking moments had been at the other end.
A piece of Luis Suarez magic suddenly made even a draw appear optimistic. Previously quiet, he utterly lost Phil Jagielka to head in Cavani’s cross expertly.
When the cry went out for help (during Monsieur Salut!’s post-op but continuing incapacity), Bill Taylor took himself off to Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. But he did leave behind smashing reminiscences of Roker Park – which you can see by clicking here – and now answers our plea for some sort of story to go with two of his holiday snaps …
I cannot tell a lie – well, I can but I won’t – this post is being cobbled together at the request of the Salut! Sunderland slavemaster to justify running two photos I sent him from a recent visit to Buenos Aires, one of which has absolutely nothing to do with football but which tickled his fancy. I like a challenge.
A good answer to anyone who thought the third place final a fairly meaningless part of the World Cup. To watch and hear the Germans following the game in a seafront Med bar in France, you’d have thought Muller & Co had won the trophy. But fair play to them, it was a cracking game with drama from one of the tournament’s brightest lights, Diego Forlan, right to the end. Bill Taylor thinks it may turn out to have been THE final …
Let us hope Jeremy Robson changed his mind about not watching the so-called “bronze medal” match between Germany and Uruguay.
Otherwise, he missed a terrific game – good end-to-end, cut-and-thrust football with five well-taken goals and both Diego Forlan and Thomas Müller notching their fifth of the tournament.
In the end, it was a more comfortable victory than the late Uruguay flourish suggested. A wicked sort of justice had been served by the hint of van Persie being offside at the moment Wesley Sneijder hit his shot to make it 2-1.
John Mensah may have adopted the Mickey Gray approach to penalty taking – I draw the line at saying the “Jeff Whitley approach” – but he played his full, lion-hearted part in a thrilling game, and a team display that will have had most of the world saddened by a cruel defeat. Pete Sixsmith concurs …
What a game between Uruguay and Ghana. I thought it had everything – pace, skill, vision and the most incredible finish I think I have ever seen in a game of such importance.