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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 12, 2010 @ 11:45 am

    Good Politics, Bad Entertainment

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Like most Irish people, I suspect, I can take or leave the game of soccer. The World Cup failed to catch my imagination this time, or anyone else’s around these here parts, and not just because Ireland wasn’t involved. 

    I think it was the late John Healy who remarked that, for much of the time, soccer is like watching paint dry. Inconclusive moves hither and yon with very little result most of the time.

    Politically, however, I think soccer is a Good Thing. It is the most international of sports and brings together virtually all nations and cultures. It is the sporting equivalent of the United Nations and maybe more effective. It used to be known as the Garrison Game in Ireland but now I see even senior Sinn Fein members proclaiming loyalty to English soccer clubs.

    South Africa rightly won kudos for its performance in hosting the tournament. I wish, however, they had banned that pestilential vuvuzela which was a most unpleasant intrusion in all the matches.

    I should point out that Gaelic games can have their boring passages. A good hurling match is a gift from the gods but there is nothing more wearisome than a one-sided game as you enter the 20th minute of the second half. Especially if Kilkenny are (again) hammering Wexford :-)

    I was a young fella when we got our first TV set specifically to watch the World Cup final between England and Germany. What a thriller! And all in black and white – but then we didn’t know any better at the time.

    Last night’s final between Spain and the Netherlands was a monumental bore up until that very late final score by Andres Iniesta. The gesture of taking of his shirt to display a message to his dead friend was very moving – or rather moving in retrospect, as I could not figure out what he was up to at the time! For more info, click here.

    • robespierre says:

      I am a rugby and cricket man but I do watch Champions League and International tournaments. Soccer can be an exciting and beautiful game to watch. It has been corrupted from the inside out by greed and money and that is why I and many other people are turned off by the crassness of the English soccer leagues. Its political benefits have been long documented and ensured communications and an element of cultural interchange through fascism and the cold war.

      Rugby has warning signs on its horizons with what is going on in France with rich sugar daddies bankrolling clubs but the best paid rugby players in the world (i.e. the top 2 or 3) would barely be making what the highest paid soccer players were earning in the mid-1970s.

      The GAA has much to be pround of and while games of hurling like that in Thurles yesterday are indeed a stirring thing, stickball is really a Munster game that parts of Leinster and Galway dabble in. The only native game that can claim proper coverage is turf juggling / football.

    • kynos says:

      Agree with what you say. Ventured last night when watching the WC final (a rare thing for me to watch sport on telly or anywhere) that perhaps soccer might be like sumo. A sport where nothing very much seems to happen for a long time – in reality the wrestlers are making the most subtle changes to position and tension in response to equally subtle changes in their adversary’s posture, and building up their Qi – and then an explosive moment of Truth resolves the issue, and the winner emerges at once. But Carl didn’t seem to think it worth wider audience. That was touching that the Spanish players have such respect for their deceased friend. Not a lot of respect about sometimes we might think. And indeed not a lot of it deserved in certain quarters. Least said soonest mended. Agree especially on the geo-political and geo-strategic nature of soccer have said so before. Goal line technology should be introduced at huge internationals for that reason.

    • robespierre says:

      Kynos, Sumo is one of the most corrupt national sports in the world. There is a particularly interesting chapter in Freakonmics that highlights the oligopolistic / cartel culture in dead rubber fights that stops a star falling out of the high leagues. Japanese organised crime have heavily infiltrated the sport which is a massive focus for betting.

      There is a a top Sumo wrestler at the second rank (not yokazuna) that is under investigation for his indebtedness.

    • minnie says:

      Football — I know nothing but being a Loreto-educated damsel, know about hockey — played left wing through Secondary School so would know about line formation, passing the ball, etc., and scoring goals. Didn’t turn on the tv on the night of the World Cup final until I thought it would be well over and not least for the reason that it seemed the only buzz about World Cup 2010 was the buzzing of those vuvuzela thingies which would drive anyone insane but I caught the last 30 minutes of the extra time game and I have to say, to my eye, the style of the Spanish team playing looked quite beautiful — exquisite in fact. They were swift, agile, accurate, determined, cool under pressure (and what pressure they were under to score that goal), and in the end well deserving of the title football champions of the world. There’s something in this football game after all……….perhaps for the Spanish, it’s a little Sangria in the blood.
      Cheers Spain !!

    • minnie says:

      meant to say Cheers Spain!! And to say World Peace — bit worried about what Castro has said — an elderly Castro has made a rare appearance (Cuban tv) to issue a warning re nuclear threat — shades of Bay of Pigs………

    • I always thought it was the drone of the commentator spilling out cliché after cliché and filling the silence with witless remarks about the hopes and fears of each team. The music of the vuvuzuela was a balm to the ears after all that. Banning them for future tournaments takes some of the fun away….
      It may seem a bit far fetched but watching fans of all teams puffing into the vuvuzuelas prompted me to think the instrument could be used as a unifying force in global politics!

    • BB says:

      @ 6 — The vuvuzela a unifying force in global politics! Exactly how? I am imagining a Dáil Debate for a start — do they really need vuvuzealas? Shure who needs a vuvuzela when they’ve got Joan Burton?

    • kynos says:

      Didn’t know that Robespierre must check that chapter again it’s been awhile since read Freakonomics.

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