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(June 03, 2002)

putting the log back in blog

As Jeff says, I do have a hard time weaning myself off content, never mind actual events. So, more football then.

Thank you Charlie for all the gay names. I never knew you you'd gone into the subject so deeply. Skinner and Baddiel once showed an Arsenal programme from the 50s where the 7-9 shirts were worn by Brown, Arce and Hole respectively.

It's been names day on the TV as well. The commentators have made the Totti joke about 10 times now (Totti = Italian star player, totty = slang lads' language for attractive women), and it seems to get funnier for them each time. Meanwhile they ignored the much greater humourous potential of Turkish player Fatih (pronounced "farty") entirely, unless John Motson is capable of ironic deadpanning, which seems unlikely.

Anyway, it was out of bed at 7:25, down the stairs with duvet and pillow and on to the sofa for Croatia v Mexico. I know all you parents out there have to get up 3 hours before you go to bed, but I see 7:30 every time Japan and Korea host the World Cup, and at no other time. Oddly, it's actually better if you have a 6:30 kick off as then you can video the game and watch it from 8:30 to 10:00, before the 10:30 game starts.

Still, it's been great, hasn't it? I find myself, after 3 live games in the morning, glued to the highlights in the evening and pining for the next day. The half hour of non-football between games seems empty and gray. The fact that Croatia and Mexico was a rubbish game seems quite irrelevant (1-0 to Mexico on a penalty, by the way).

In any case, Brazil v Turkey was everything a football game should be. To my mind the Brazil of the last decade or so have never shown quite the same cavalier disregard for the laws of physics as the Brazil of the 70s and 80s, but today they were magick. Turkey hung on well though, scoring first and losing to a penalty given for a tackle outside the box right at the end. They're in England's Euro 2004 qualifying group, and that's a shame.

Italy v Ecuador was frankly a bit of an anti-climax - Italy disposed of Ecuador 2-0 without ever looking really troubled. There is something depressing about Italian football - they must be the only nation in the world to have a word specifically to describe boring, ugly defensive football ("catenaccio", which they consider to be their gift to the world). Their domestic league is much more entertaining than their national team, mainly due to the huge number of Latin Americans in it. At least they don't live up to their national stereotype, otherwise they'd all have beautiful singing voices and a tendency to run away.

Incidentally, I noticed that of the 7 previous World Cup winners, 5 were majority Catholic countries (Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay and France). Germany is about half and half, I believe, leaving England as the only mainly Protestant winners ever, although staunchly Lutheran Holland have been losing finalists twice. Even England often do better as "English boys with a bit of Irish in them", ie Irish Catholics living in England. Could there be a connection between being good at football and having a gay church?

Today's villain? Rivaldo, of Brazil, who after having a dead ball kicked at his legs by Hakan Unsal of Turkey went down with his hands over his face as if the ball had hit him there, getting Unsal sent off. The really stupid thing is, it was 10 seconds before the end of the game, so now Unsal will miss the game against Brazil's final opponent Costa Rica, who they'd like to see beaten.

Today's hero? Bizarrely, the Queen, whose Jubilee delayed half term to this week, making my extended sofa holiday possible. And this after her mother, at death's door on a Saturday morning, saved that day's football program by hanging on to 3:30 in the afternoon, by which time it was too late to cancel. Is the whole family on a commission or something?

posted by Jon 19:03
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