Welcome To Our World Cup
by Ian R Thorpe
CREATIVE COMMONS: Attribute, non commercial, no derivs.
KEYWORDS: world,cup,football, soccer, south,africa, FIFA, England, USA, america, nation, national, sport television, satire, humour, humor
(Originally written in 2002 in appreciation of the USA reaching the quater finals of the World Cup Football Tournament )
In June 2002 millions of people thought we had cause to celebrate the United States of America finally coming of age as a nation. This celebration of the rite of passage is somewhat overdue as the USA was conceived 225 years ago and with all of the world's great historic nations as role models should really have reached mature nationhood before now. But we are nothing if not patient and our patience has been rewarded. America has learned to play football. Football, OK. Nobody except the U.S.A. plays soccer, from Fiji to the Cook Islands it’s football.
There are three things a country need in order to become a mature nation, a beer, and even though proper Budweiser is brewed in the Czech republic and American Bud, in the eyes of European males, is for girlies only though there are some others that are good; a flag (and we all know you have one of those); and a football team.
Most of the world did take rather longer to reach this stage having emerged from the dark ages together when in a renaisance of enthusiasm for pointless bhaviour men learned to joys of kivking an inflated pig'sbladder aound. In some countried football became a religion, in some it was a matter of life and death but for the world's leading football nations it was even more important than that. England even adopted the three lions of the Pantagenet oriflamme, the banner our noble armied carried into battle from Azincourt to Waterloo as our team's emblem With shining examples such as Brazil, France, Germany, Italy and Argentina to act as guides and mentors it is a puzzle why USA took so long to get into the world's favourite game. But now The World Cup - nobody says The World Football Cup, it’s the World Cup plain and simple, has come round again and the U.S.A. has qualified for the final stages. We all know 2002 was no fluke, America has joined the civilised world.
Most of you, well those who are not reaching for semi - automatic rifles at least, will be wondering what has happened because it seems America has for the past eight years been blissfully unaware of the reason you are on the verge of gaining acceptance into this great world community. There will no dubt be people who try to give the credit for this wave of goodwill to Barack Obama. The world knows the truth however.
I'll fill you in on what happened out in the real world that gave us cause for such celebration. America showed the world it had learned to play soccer properly, no razzmatzz, no fiddling with the rules to cater for the notoriously short American male attention span as had happened in ill fated attempts to launch the game in the USA back in the 1960s. Despite the almost total indifference of the vast majority of Americans that squad of young men of African, Hispanic and European origin, complete underdogs, fought their way though to the closing stages of the tournament. The played with style and flair and were gracious in both victory and defeat , showing none of that arrogance we have come to associate with American sports competitors.
It was widely reported in the world media that the U.S.A. team were not given any kind of official reception on their return and there was no acknowledgement of their achievement from the White House. Such is the power of football to unite the world, the indifference of America was almost as big a P.R. disaster as bombing an Iraqi or Afghan wedding party.
Over the next four weeks of the world's major sporting tournament (forget the Olympics, what has synchronised swimming to do with sport?) the World Cup is taking place again and again the USA team is present. Unnoticed by the US media and almost all of you their efforts will do more to foster goodwill than a thousand Obama speeches. The unacclaimed and inexperienced USA team has qualified for the knock out stage again. Now this is the proper football world cup, not that silly game in which the players have to dress up as the Village People and are liable to become so emotionally overwrought they to break off for a group hug every five minutes, but real football, the major spectator sport in every major nation except the USA and those where Osama bin Laden still has any influence. Does that tell you something?
The basic requisites of national maturity are that the culture can bring to the world community a flag, a drink and a football team. Now America seems to be obsessed with flags, can claim to have created in Bourbon a drink that makes a cultural contribution in its own right rather than as poor relation of Scotch and Irish Whiskey (Irish has the 'e' as well as distinctive qualities in flavour) and at last has a football team that has earned the respect of the world. Perhaps this will encourage the more paranoid factions in the US political establishment to stop believing everybody hates your country because of its success and become able to appreciate the joys and benefits of friendly xenophobia. Football and xenophobia go together like peaches and Schnapps. In the footballing world it would be futile to hate America just because it is America, football xenophobia has to be illogical and funny and there are just too many things to logically hate about the USA; McDonalds, Rap music, Dubya, pollution, McDonalds, corporate fascism, McDonalds Jerry Falwell, McDonalds, KFC, McDonalds, Michael Jackson, baseball, baseball caps, Starbucks, colonic irrigation, self - help books, the penchant for invading and bombing third world countries and of course we must not forget McDonalds. Why should we settle for one vague general hatred of a nation that has given us a lot of good things too when we can hate all these things separately and with a passion of which most Americans can only dream and which our forefathers reserved for Witches, Clergymen and Tax Collectors.
Those of you who have read too many self - help books and are thinking of making a list of reasons to hate the English forget it, I am going to provide the definitive one shortly. You see what unites other nation and I include even the Japanese, it the capacity for self mockery. Why do you think s few people hate the English as a nation? It is quite simply because of our national character traits, small - mindedness, snobbery, enviousness, xenophobia, anal retentiveness, the class-system, ripping off tourists, lousy service and warm beer. Now if you want to add to that list "smug, supercilious writers who criticise the American way of life that is fine because I'm way ahead on points. Oh and of course there is that pretentious and condescending tendency to insist on retaining totally unnecessary letters in perfectly efficient words like humor.
With so many reasons to hate almost every English person as an individual why waste energy on hating us generally unless of course it is because our football team have prettier shirts. A good nation to hate for football xenophobia purposes are the Dutch, simply because as a nation they never offend anybody and as individuals they are invariably so nice it is impossible to dislike them. Until about ten years ago the Swedes fell into the same category after all how could anybody hate the nation that gave us Volvo cars and ABBA (unless it is a sports car driving heavy metal fan?) All the Swedes seemed to do was look good and eat herrings. Then came a revolution and now just as people are getting into serious eye - contact with their latest fancy in some restaurant or bar and about to utter those magical words "are you up for a casual shag" the moment will be destroyed by the sound of The William Tell Overture (squeaky version) coming from somebody's mobile phone - and whatever the make, the base technology is Swedish.
It has always puzzled the rest of the world why America does not hate Canada, after all they are on your doorstep the cultures are almost identical and they beat you in a war. The real reason is that you never play football with them and instead of an affectionate hatred there exists a smouldering mistrust. Come on America, confess. You do not dare offend Canada because you think they are planning something and might have a few million heavily armed men hidden in the Northern wastes. Apart from that paranoia you have an ideal set of circumstances in which supposedly friendly fixtures can turn into mass outpourings of emotion that act as a catharsis for negative feelings towards the government, your boss, spouse, Europe, yoghurt and OBL. Examples of national pairings in which football based hatred been of mutual benefit are France and England, England and Germany, France and Germany, Italy and Germany, Austria and Germany, Spain and Portugal, Sweden and Norway, Poland and Germany, Denmark and Germany and also everybody else and Germany.
Many true Americans may feel like arguing that as a nation you hate Cuba. This is out of order because what Cuba inspires, fuelled by the ravings of the religious right, is fear and panic (a more incisive writer than myself may at this point speculate on why, if capitalism is so good and communism so bad, this tiny, impoverished and incompetent island has such a profound effect on the collective psyche of what is allegedly the world's most powerful nation. After all what can they do? Bombard Florida with henna - dyed beards? Send unlimited supplies of free cigars in the hope of embarrassing future Presidents? )
Now America has joined the world community as a fully fledged nation with a decent football team perhaps you will react against your Government's continued belief that it must settle international disputes by dropping countless tons of explosives on clusters of mud huts and herds of goats. It is simply not how things are done, people get killed. (I could add "usually Europeans, Canadians or Australians rather than the supposed enemy" but will hold back as I understand the mention of collateral damage is a sore point.) This should not be happening in the twenty - first century, xenophobia ought to be fun. After all, at the end of the day, to borrow a favourite phrase of football pundits, it's only a game.
BTW before anyone takes this too seriously, my paternal Grandad was born in Utica N.Y. and so I have always had a lot of affection for the USA. In the last few years it has become increasingly difficult to maintain that affection, particularly since the current administration took office.
AND FINALLY, because American’s do tend to take things too seriously, here is a link to some world cup silliness that reminds us all its not about winning, it about having a laugh.
?Vindaloo - a past England World Cup Song
Word Cup: Why Football Is So Much More Than A Game
When my friend Sheryl visited Britain recently, not knowing the football world cup was in progress she was surprised by the way at a certain hour the streets of London would mysteriously empty, it became impossible to get a cab, diners were hustled out of restaurants and life came to a standstill. During the World Cup Everything stops for football.
The Corporate Propaganda World Cup.
The World Football (Soccer) Cup, said by some to be the biggest sporting festival is under way in Brazil. But recent events coupled with allegations of corruption, chicanery and human rights abuses perpetrated in the interests of keeping the poor and unsavoury side of Brazilian society off camera have already tained the event ...
England Flag Racist
England Football Players
Rooney, Referees and The Old School
Swive You Earsling
Welcome To Our World Cup
Bleep Test Pupils
Bread and Circues
The England Flag
Is He Brain Dead - No He's A Fotballer
Is pigeon racing a sport?
Nike Stands By Tiger
Psychology Of The London Marathon
Terry The Tiger
World Champion Losers
England vs USA
Swive You Ref
The Greatest Love
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