World Cup Final 2010
“Bafana Bafana…..! Jabulani…!” screamed Peter Drury as Siphiwe Tshabalala slotted home the first goal of the 2010 World Cup as if every man jack of us were right behind plucky host nation Wherever the Fuck They’re Holding It This Year. In referencing a transcontinental solidarity that does not exist, Drury was complicit in a media-wide act of Olympic standard patronage, the kind of well-intentioned but ultimately condescending approach usually reserved for The Paralympics, that pointless shitbird of an event that nobody of consequence gives a tuppenny fuck about even though everyone pretends to. Ever since that first game when the developed world began its month-long hate affair with the buzz killing vuvuzela and that dismal cuntmonkey of a football, the Adidas Jabulani (a perfectly spherical hate sponge that Craig Johnston correctly said encourages “prehistoric football”) it’s been a pale sea creature of a World Cup, undoubtedly one of the worst in the tournament’s history. As it reached a breathless climax last night, people wondered how would you ever end such a tournament? “With the triumph of good over evil” turned out to be the elusive obvious answer.
“The Dutch were unlikely comic villains causing much cognitive dissonance in the freewheeling Italia 90 generation who chiefly remember the Netherlands as the team they support when England get knocked out.”
Because the Dutch side that kicked their way to the 2010 final were the antithesis of everything the country’s football has ever stood for. Paranoid, defensive, cynical, violent – they espoused a win-at-all-costs philosophy, and then lost. Redeemed, in some people’s minds, by tenacity, resilience and Arjen Robben they were unlikely comic villains causing much cognitive dissonance in the freewheeling Italia 90 generation who chiefly remember the Netherlands as the team they support when England get knocked out. Cruyff, Gullitt and van Basten replaced by the jocks who bullied them at school. Confusion abounded.
“This Dutch side, at least, wouldn’t be subject to the centrifugal forces that tore apart so many of their predecessors. No mutineers in this crew. This was a meritocracy of the mean'”
In mitigation, they did get rid of that pig-titted skunk Dunga and his horrific Brazilian side but they spent most of the tournament riding their luck hard and riding their opponents harder. Van Bommel in particular lived a charmed life as he stamped, kicked, niggled and deliberately tried to injure his fellow professionals. Still, they had the team spirit so that was OK. This Dutch side, at least, wouldn’t be subject to the centrifugal forces that tore apart so many of their predecessors. No superstars, second-guessers, narcissists or mutineers in this crew. This was a meritocracy of the mean.
In the opposite corner, meanwhile, wearing the white hat, were the European champions Spain, Vicente Del Bosque’s beautifully balanced side, master exponents of tiki-taka, that collectivism-in-action stylistic tour de force that turns passing triangles into Koch’s snowflake. Spain took control from the off, threatening to overrun the Orange hordes but Dutch thuggery soon took over. Mark van Bommel was booked for trying to cripple Iniesta, and Nigel de Jong was fortunate not to be charged with attempted murder after impaling Xabi Alonso through the chest on his boot. He escaped with a yellow.
“FIFA, those corrupt shills, contrived to fuck up an event that is practically impossible to do badly. They once again confirmed their reputation as hospitality guzzling, ticket touting apparatchiks led by a professional administrator who has never kicked a ball in anger in his life.”
It went on like this throughout the 90 minutes and extra time, Spain pressing like loons, being kicked up in the air then putting the freekick into Row Z.; the Dutch venturing forward occasionally with penetrating counters. When Andres Iniesta kept it gangsta with just four minutes left of extra time and ice-drilled a right footed shot past Maarten Stekelenburg, right-thinking people everywhere howled with joy as art’s victory over aggression was secured. Iniesta removed his shirt to reveal a T-shirt saying “Dani Jarque siempre con nostros” a tribute to the Espanyol player who died of a heart attack in August. After two hours of bruising frustration, the catharsis was sweet.
Chaos reigned in this World Cup and the horror is that that is so much duller than it sounds. FIFA, those corrupt shills, contrived to fuck up an event that is practically impossible to do badly. From the suicidal introduction of the Jabulani to the arrogant dismissal of video replays they once again confirmed their reputation as hospitality guzzling, ticket touting apparatchiks led by a professional administrator who has never kicked a ball in anger in his life. Ousting him and his kind from the sport’s governing body should be the guiding principle of every football related action in the four years before we head in 2014 to Brazil: land of the brave, home of the freekick. Replay technology, samba football and stadiums filled with swimwear models. We wait with the breath of the bated ones.
The verdict on World Cup final 2010: Dicey start, traumatic middle, great ending.
Marks out of 10: 7.
Imagined: Monday, July 12, 2010