As Spain celebrate the spoils of victory, lets have a closer look at the irritations of this sporting spectacle.
It is worth noting that regardless of how poor this World Cup may have been, even a below average World Cup is still an incredibly exciting passionate affair. This list just represents areas that could have been improved and issues that could have been avoided and ways in which the whole showpiece event could have been even better!
Did we need a new football for the World Cup? And if we did, why were we given the kind of ball that is more suited to a circus than the biggest sporting event on the planet. In the end Adidas came out admitting that there were flaws with the world’s roundest football, the flaw being that when kicked at precisely 45 k/mh the sphere turns into flowerpot?
Where to begin. If you were present at a stadium during the World Cup you will have at first been under the impression that a wave of wasps were on the loose you would then have noticed that the noise was in fact the result of a plastic horn type instrument that will surely be used as some sort of torture device before too long. The device has however been unwisely blamed by some as an excuse for poor performances on the pitch!
Diving and Play Acting
We have been told for years now that players will be cautioned for simulation or theatrical behaviour on the pitch but nothing ever gets done. The Brazil Vs Holland match stood out as one particular low point in this regard where all 22 players seemed intent on trying to fool the referee into awarding free-kicks for the merest suggestion of a tackle. Arjen Robben was of course the chief culprit in this tournament and the Bayern Munich winger became the unwitting subject of an amusing internet campaign as a result of his ability fall to the ground with alarming regularity.
Did this World Cup produce the most woeful refereeing performance in living memory? I think so. The level of mistake making was shocking. Whether for missing blatant over the line goals, or offside decisions that were somehow missed or just the constant missing of player dives or other attempts to ‘cheat’, there appears to be a shocking dip in the ability of the World’s best officials just getting the decisions correct at least some of the time.
Many predicted that Raymond Domenech’s side may disappoint but they few would have predicted just how often they managed to hit the self destruct button. The French experience in South Africa would have made a fantastic soap opera of epic proportions. From player revolts to player strikes to abuse flung at the boss that left Nicolas Anelka flung out of the camp and don’t forget the pitiful performances on the pitch which heaped shame on a footballing nation. Such was the horror at the goings on that Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy decided he must investigate and promptly ordered Thierry Henry to explain what went on during the roller coaster ride.
Whilst there fall from grace may have been less pronounced, the reigning World Cup holders really should be ashamed in the manner of their shocking inability to even progress through arguably the weakest group in the tournament. What would have hurt supporters most was the fact that no one in the camp appeared to care. Almost without exception not a single player displayed the passion and determination that had helped them to secure the 2006 crown. An ageing squad appeared disinterested and off the pace and could not even manage a win in a group that included nations that ranked 18th, 34th and 78th in the FIFA world rankings.
Media Scare Tactics
For months before the kick off we were told how the World Cup Finals would be a blood bath. That there would be murders, muggings and general chaos throughout the month long tournament. The manner in which the hysteria was drummed up by 24 hour news channels and tabloid newspapers was nothing short of shameless scare mongering. As it turned out there was very little in the way of trouble and almost to a fault the whole experience passed off peacefully without any serious incident of note, however clearly coverage of this lack of incident is not as newsworthy, hence the silence on this issue from the mainstream press.
Big Name Players Not Turning Up
This World Cup will perhaps be remembered by most as the time when an alarming amount of world class stars failed to perform to their highest abilities. Some blamed tiredness but such an excuse holds little water when one looks at those at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan who played over 50+ games but still excelled, the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Xavi and Thomas Muller spring to mind in this regard. Its also worth remembering that Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan had just completed an exhausting 55 game campaign but still managed to impress greatly. The likes of Kaka, Wayne Rooney, Franck Ribery and Cristiano Ronaldo were big offenders in this regard, all failing to convert top club form into international success.
There is something about the manner in which the FIFA operates that rubs many football fans up the wrong way. Sepp Blatter continues to shock the world by still sitting in his post despite quite possibly being as mad as a pack of rabid hyenas. The manner in which football’s world governing body did a dramatic U-turn over the vexed issue of ‘goal-line technology‘ is an excellent example of the way important decisions are ignored or passed over until the media hastens them into a pragmatic reaction that is about a decade too late.
Aside from these irritations there is one big reason to consider the tournament a big success
The manner in which the entire nation took the tournament to their hearts was as refreshing as it was passionate. There were no shortage of joyous celebrations from all who were present both in and around the stadiums. Hopefully the legacy of the event will be felt across the country. Perhaps the influx in new tourists and media coverage from the rainbow nation will all have lasting effects on a country that could well do with some good press and a financial boost that could come from such a positive ringing endorsement that comes from hosting the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet, and doing so with such distinction.