Monday, July 19, 2010

Let's take off the masks

A few days ago this message arrived to my inbox, from a friend who lives in Minneapolis. He said it was from the, but a google search didn't bring any hits from sites uk. My search found a comment in the New York Times Goal Blog from RPG (Switzerland), which the author claimed to have found on The Guardian, but again, there's no more information than just that.

Let's take a look at it:

It's because most football fans are thundering hypocrites, full of their own self-righteousness and unable to see beyond the end of their own noses. So Germany's goalkeeper and players pretend Lampard's shot didn't cross the line, when the entire stadium knew otherwise. Ghana kick, play act, wave imaginary cards and dive for a free kick that should never have been awarded. Holland dive shamefully (in the form of Robben and Van Persie), and go around trying to maim Uruguayan opponents (in the form of the near psychotic Van Bommel). But they're not cheats: honestly, they're not. They're choirboys, playing Pele's beautiful game.
The only "cheats", apparently, are a team which was one of the most fouled against in the tournament; whose magnificently combative midfielders Perez and Arevalo tackled almost perfectly throughout the tournament; whose defensive organisation was amazing; but who had a player who did something in the last minute of the quarter-final that many, many players have done throughout history. It's so good to know that all those condemning Suarez have now renounced England's win in 1966 - because Jack Charlton dived full length to punch away a Portugese shot in the semi-final, and wasn't even booked, never mind sent off.
Except they haven't - because they're hypocrites. Stinking, lousy hypocrites, whose real reason for wanting to see the back of Uruguay is, I fear, in all too many cases, because they're South American. South American players are greased up, scheming, evil Machiavellian crooks, don't you know? The Dutch are beautiful; African sides incapable of anything cynical.
It's all such utter, pathetic nonsense. Suarez was punished; that should be the end of it. And beyond that, the ignorance displayed on these pages towards a nation of 3.5m whose achievements are miraculous, whose spirit is indomitable, who over-achieved magnificently at this World Cup, went down fighting despite being over-matched tonight and shorn of FOUR key players (and a fifth, Forlan, who played while injured throughout), and who chronic under-achievers like England should be LEARNING from, is simply breathtaking.
After the miracle of 1950, Jules Rimet explained what had happened with the words: "In football, playing well is not sufficient. You also need to feel it profoundly, as does Uruguay".
You have to FEEL it. That is the spirit with which Uruguay play; that is the spirit which England all too often lack. A nation of 3.5m people, with two world titles, two Olympic titles, 14 Copa America, and who have now reached more World Cup semi-finals than Argentina, who have 12 times as many people to choose from? Uruguay should be being saluted on these pages: I think they've been fantastic. But this is nasty, insular little England, with nasty, insular little posters like sicklemoon - so look what they get instead.
Well done to Holland. Even with the officials generally embarrassing themselves, you were the better side, have a fantastic record, and good luck in the final. And to Uruguay: farewell, ignore the nonsense as I know you will, and may you go one better in Brazil in four years time. Let's face it: in Brazil of all places, history beckons.

I'm impressed. It's good to read nice things about one's country and countrymen, and this writer is right on spot here, meaning that s/he seems to have been reading our minds. We know our football and we're aware we're the smallest country to have achieved a feat or two in this game... leaving aside anything older than 50 years, we still have a pretty decent record on continental cups (which is not bad considering our border neighbors have won a few World Cups each), as well as clubs tournaments. We've been a recognized greenhouse of world class players for decades now, which has made the rather poor World Cup performances of the past 40 years all the more heartbreaking. Is Uruguay a well kept secret in the football world?

Or maybe what I've said is just an ego trip. Growing up hearing it over and again it's a part of our national subconscious it's hard to utter and understand otherwise. The original writer seems to know that, maybe it's a Uruguayan with perfect British English?

I thought the officiating, especially in the games against Ghana and Netherlands, systematically handicapped Uruguay, but probably every fan felt the officiating hurt their team, so I don't think I can make a point with it. But isn't the reader saying the same thing when s/he says "the most fouled against team" and to Holland "in spite of the officials generally embarrassing themselves" as in "they gave you a helping hand"? I'd like to have this mask off and know, who wrote this?

The unabashed hatred from the ever influential English press, which I suspect roots from the denied Lampard goal (the referee trio was from Uruguay, right?) more than anything else, took me by surprise. Isn't the unwritten rule of this game to do as much as the referee allows you to, and do anything it takes to win? So, would they be this harsh had it been an English player securing England's qualifying for the semis instead of a team from a tiny country? Or are we just witnessing a rule of the press: get attention no matter how?

Maybe is it that abusing a country with a population sized a decimal fraction of population (centesimal if you're from the US) is really easy? If that's true, then we'll have to rely on masked defendors, just as the purported commentator.

Questions and more questions. If you have an answer, please feel free to speak your mind in the comments section.

Language note: I know I should be saying soccer instead of football, but I'd really like to use that word for this game.
Pronounciation note: If you're an English speaker and you'd like to know how to properly pronounce Uruguay, it's not "you are gay" as Homer Simpson once suggested, but rather "oo-roog-WHY"

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