The World Cup Is Here

Call me cynical, but I just don’t buy this awe and wonder at the silky smooth samba skills of the the South American maestros of the beautiful game set in the home of football. I could be mistaken, but isn’t England the home of football?

Yesterday’s opening game confirmed one thing for me; it’s pointless watching the rest of the tournament because the outcome has already been writ in stone. I have long advocated that the way to beat Brazil is to play exactly the game that Croatia adopted last night, don’t sit back and admire them like Sven’s England did in Japan and don’t let them settle on the ball. To quote the immortal Jonesy, “They don’t like it up ’em”. The element of the equation that even Captain Mainwaring couldn’t factor in, of course, is the unfathomable decision making of the referee.

Perhaps I’m world weary with the overriding money generation aim – to the exclusion of all else – that is the Premier League, but it would seem that the story had already been written and that a win for the country renowned for their silky smooth samb… (you get the picture) was essential for the maximum leveraging of profit potential for this particular business model. Sporting competition, I hear you cry? Get with it Grandad, this is the 21st century and football is a business (I keep being told). If I had a tanner for every time I had harboured a desire to punch someone in the face for the old ‘football is a business’ bullshit, why I’d have enough to buy a pint of fizzy lager in a plastic cup at Wembley.

I’m not saying that Sepp had a wander down to the referees luxurious basement apartment and changing room at half time and nudged him back on script with a brown envelope full of rustling folding stuff. Course I’m not saying that, that would be libellous… What I am saying, however, is that if that was a penalty, then I’m the Archbishop of Canterbury with a cantaloupe melon balanced on the end of my nose.

Back to my original premise, I don’t buy the silky smooth, South American samba-inspired etc. etc. crap. The Brazil side of 1970 were sublime. It seems to me, however, that they have basked in the reflected glory of that fantastic side for far too long. Is it just me, or does no-one else see the cheating, the dirty play, the bad sportsmanship, the unfathomable refereeing decisions that turn games? Is it the Emperor’s new clothes syndrome, or am I simply a heretic? Worse, a psychopathic lunatic intent on upturning the world’s accepted notion that Brazil are the untouchable footballing gods to whom we should all curtsy and genuflect?

It may be an unpopular view, but is it already decided that said footballing gods will transcend their fated path to the ultimate financial requirements of FIFA and feign injury, drop in the box like sacks of King Edwards, forearm smash their opponents and play some really very ordinary football on their way to the World Cup trophy? And, by the way, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I had Brazil 1-1 Croatia in the office sweepstake…

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