Monday, June 21, 2010

Zut alors!

Oh dear... Nicolas Anelka is suggesting, to a person to whom he ascribes dubious origin on his maternal side, that he should attempt an act often proposed but widely seen to be impossible.

This comes as we experience yet another day of yawn-inspiring soccer from South Africa.

Soccer, say I, a sport codified long, long ago as Association Football. A sport entirely admirable, socially and culturally valuable and beneficial at grass-roots level... the cameraderie in the stands (when standing was the rule), the rumbustious joy of rivalry on the village green, in the school playground and, more recently, on waste ground in countries all over the globe.

I somehow wish it soccer had never been professionalized and monetized.

Because today the truth is out. Yes, from time to time there is a spectacle to thrill to on the field, an athletic choreography to cheer, to be remembered and interminably discussed.

At other times, however reluctant we are to admit it, the goals... if goals be scored... are a matter of pure luck. The strategies and tactics expounded at dreadful length by the pundits, trainers and managers are attempts to hide the plain fact that there is and always will be a lot of aimless running around without any foreseeable outcome.

I think I enjoy other forms of football more. Rugby Union, Rugby League, the American game with its lurching tempo, but also moments of magic. There is Gaelic Football and the hilariously homoerotic variant played under Aussie Rules on vast cricket grounds.

In South Africa the French are shouting a distressing truth; the soccer emperor has no clothes! Do the feats of the England eleven say otherwise? Spain, Italy, Germany?

I'd love to see the Cup go to New Zealand... or Ghana.

For me Association Football is on the verge of failing to achieve Proof Of Concept.


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