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A noob’s view of the World Cup

July 14, 2014 by Saar Drimer

I don’t follow sports. Never have. If I had, I’d much more likely follow basketball than football. This World Cup, as it happened, I watched most matches. I was partial for Brazil because they’ve hosted and also because Caroline is Brazilian. Here’s how clueless I was about football: it was only when I saw the tribute to Alan Hansen on iPlayer a few days ago when I realised that Match of the Day was going on for a few decades and not a World Cup specific programme. Earlier on in the World Cup — before seeing his informative round-ups — my working assumption was that Gary Lineker was just there for the comic relief.

All that said, I do know what an off-side is so I’m quite qualified to commentate.

The social aspects surrounding the Copa were very interesting to me. The demonstrations, favela “pacification“, the politics — a sports tournament that had, and will have, a direct impact on a country’s leadership? Wow — and Brazil’s efforts to elevate their position in the world stage and in general perception. It turned out that this event has had as much impact outside the stadium as it did inside of it.

Two matches defined this World Cup. The Brazil-Germany semi-final and the Argentina-Germany final.

The humbling semi-final was a clash of cultures: Deus É Brasileiro — God is Brazilian — versus The Terminator. God, the Brazilian, seemed to tune in last-minute against Columbia. But, I suppose, he too was embarrassed by David-Luis` abysmal performance and over-reliance on prayers instead of training, and decided to skip the Germany match entirely. I couldn’t watch past the fourth goal as it was too painful to think of all those passionate Brazilians witnessing their team being decimated. (Caroline later told me that she thought that the fifth was a replay since it happened so fast.) Introspection must follow; this wasn’t a bad day, or two. As a nation often defined by the stereotypical football fanatic is “Brazil” going to realise that excelling in other areas is a more worthwhile investment in the long run? I’m confident that this introspection will take centre stage once heads role and eventually have a profoundly positive impact on Brazil.

In terms of football, it’s embarrassing to see a team fall apart so colossally in the absence of one or two of their players. Actually, Brazil sent a group of individuals, not a team, loosely attached with a bit of prayer and one Neymar. Without knowing much, I have the feeling that very little practice actually took place, trusting that the two gods were going to work something out. I’m very familiar with the notion. Where I come from the prevailing ‘smoch’ — ‘trust me <wink>’ — culture was eventually deemed as harmful. Germany sent in a team!

Neymar is the other winner of that semi-final match. He should anonymously send the Columbian player who knocked him out a box of bitter chocolates. Secretly, he must realise that Germany would have won even if he was playing. But he came out of all of this unscathed; the injury he sustained is insignificant compared to an involvement in the defeat.

Since I don’t regularly watch football this tournament seemed exceedingly violent to me. Neymar, everyone’s favourite frail punchbag, seems like a very relatable character, and I kind of felt his pain whenever he was hammered throughout the Cup. Schweinsteiger, Müller, and others took some serious beating as well. I think that perhaps something should be done to tone this down. The constant acting doesn’t help. Thomas Müller, you’re clearly a talented player and dancer, so either take some acting lessons or stop doing that; it looks bad for your team and is beneath you. The attempts of the Brazilian players to squeeze a foul to save face was particularly sad. Oh, while we’re here, is there any documented case of referees changing their minds on seeing a footballer’s crying face? I don’t get it. Get on with it!

And, of course, that performance by Chewy Luis and the News was disgusting and disgraceful. There was the bite, but then there was the absence of disgust from other Uruguian players and manager. Then FIFA’s reaction reinforced the perception that it’s all about the money in a time where the organisation’s integrity is in the gutter. A player intentionally bites, BITES, other players three, THREE, times and is not banned for a few years to life? Pathetic. I don’t care how good he is.

During the final I was rooting for Argentina; it seemed wrong to have The Terminator, who has figured out the football formula, win in a sport that can have so much human creativity. That was silly. I anticipate that the German win will significantly change football. It’s clear that Joachim Löw knew what he was doing when he quit the boy-band and made a career change into football management. I hope that Brazil and everyone else take the spirit of the German team and combine it with their own style. Maybe then we’d see a Brazilian team that matches past glory.

All considered, the heroes of the World Cup, for me, are Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer. (It was a repeated disappointment to learn that the match was shown on ITV.) They taught me so much about the game with such clear delivery and beautiful style. My thanks to them for keeping me interested!

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