World Cup Diary: French revolting, North Korea failing
Not since the Trotskyist student uprisings at the Sorbonne in May-June 1968 have the French bunged on such an entertaining stink - only this time it involves the national soccer team. You can watch a news reports below, but the short version is that the players are in mutiny over their hapless coach Raymkond Domenech and have effectively gone on strike by refusing to train.
The trigger for the showdown was the explusion fron the national team of striker Nicolas Anelka after his four-lettered spray against Domenech who, among other things, he called a “dirty son a whore.” If there was any justice in the world the entire French team would have been sent home and replaced with Ireland, who lost teir qualifier against the French courtesy of a shameless handball by Thierry Henry. The upshot of all the French team’s revolution is that South Africans are now fantasising that after last week’s 3-0 drubbing by Uruguay Bafana Bafana will now come out and flog the fraying French in tonight’s final first stage match.
A little bit of Stalinist history was made yesterday with North Korea allowing the first ever live broadcast of a soccer match in Pyongyang. As a result there may now be fears for the safety of the national team after its woeful 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the Portuguese. Bizarre government censorship rules meant that the North Koreans opening match, the noble 2-1 loss to the mighty Brazil, was edited back home so as to not embarrass the nation. No-one knows what was actually broadcast - maybe the punters in Pyongyang think they beat the Brazilians 1-0. But the Portugal game ran unedited - a pity given the 7-0 scoreline was easily the worst of this World Cup so far. The North Korean “fans” here in South Africa have apparently been flown in from China and only ever cheer when they get the signal from a government representative standing on the pitch. They received no such instructions yesterday.
More chicken-related fury from Nigerian fans. In an extraordinary double-standard, a French fan was seen holding a live rooster, the national emblem of France, during the match against Uruguay. But Nigerians are still being refused entry to games with green-painted chickens. The story first broke last week when the Nigerian fans were told that they could not enter the ground with their chooks, and back in Nigeria talkback radio erupted with claims of racism. Now, after French fan Clement Tomaszewski was photographed waving his coq about in Cape Town, the Nigerians have fired up again and are threatening civil disobedience. “I will be going to the match on Tuesday when we play Korea and I am going to get my own chicken and paint it green,” defiant Nigerian fan James Michael told Johannesburg’s Sunday Times.
Never have so many Australians been so quick to jump on the Kiwi bandwagon with the second successive miracle draw by the All Whites, this time against world champions Italy, flushing the hangers-on out of the woodwork. The Kiwis are a bit miffed by it, still mildly put out by headlines claiming their opening draw against Slovakia as a win for Australasia. The nicest consensus approach we saw as on twitter via David Paris who said that, after the diving antics of the Italians in the 2006 second round game against Australia, and now their exaggerated response to the Kiwis’ shirt-pulling yesterday, our tow nations could band together on the issue. “Italian theatrics in the penalty area to incite the referree shall now be known as the ANZAC dive,” David wrote.
FIFA has changed its carry-over rule on yellow cards to make sure that big-name players do not miss out on appearing in the final. At present the yellow card amnesty expires at the end of the first round, but will now expire after the quarterfinals. This means that a player would only miss the final if they got yellow-carded twice in the semis, rather than carrying a yellow card into the semi meaning. It’s kind of FIFA to be so considerate, as the rule change is designed to avoid the repeat of past finals such as 2002 where Germany’s Michael Ballack missed out and 1990 when Argentina’s Claudio Cannigia did not play. From an Australian perspective it’s just a pity that FIFA is persisting with its existing redcard policy where our our big-name players Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill are kicked out in the first round as a result of incompetence or pedantry.
The dramatic turnaround in the Socceroos’ performance on Saturday may have been partially inspired by music. Confidential has learnt that in the dressing rooms before the boys came out to play in Rustenberg they were caning the latest Green Day album. Just before they hit the pitch, they cranked up Down Under by Men at Work. Sadly when Harry Kewell’s game was over the record was still playing.
It’s official - the vuvuzela is the loudest sporting accessory on the face of the earth. The Johannesburg City Press has compiled a handy reeady-reckoner of ludicrious sporting accoutrements which shows the vuvuzela weighs in at an eardrum-piercing 127 decibels, the air horn 123 dB , samba drums 122 dB, sports whistles and massed singing 121 dB, cowbells 115 dB, crow-scarers 109 dB, and those plastic thundersticks the Koreans go mad for 99 dB. Meanwhile in Capetown, a humungous 37m-long vuvuzela has been silenced by the authorities amid fears the noise it generated was so loud that it could cause car accidents. Things are just getting silly over here.
First it was the girls dressed in orange skirts spruiking non-sanctioned beer, now it’s the cigs that have fallen foul of security at the World Cup. Although this time it’s got nothing to do with marketing, but just a bit of old-fashioned gouging. Aussie fans at Saturday’s game in Rustenberg were being stopped and searched for smokes, ostensibly because Royal Bafokeng is a smoke-free venue. “They asked me to open my bags and I had a few packets of cigarettes inside,” fan Patrick Abenell of Mosman in Sydney said. “The guards on the gate said we were not allowed to bring cigarettes into the ground but I’d done for the two other games I’ve been to and there’s been no problems. I asked where in the FIFA guidelines it said we couldn’t bring cigarettes into grounds and she couldn’t give me an answer and let me through. but I saw they took them off a lot of other people and we all reckon that they did it to sell them on the black market.”
The tabloid bloodshed continues in the UK after two dire England performances saw them draw 1-1 with footballing minnows the USA and 0-0 with the even more inept Algerians. The Daily Mirror has launched a campaign to force the English side to fly home economy classif they don’t make it through to the second stage. The newspaper also made a hero out of fat, bald English fan Pavlos Joseph who stumbled into the player’s changerooms after the Algeria game and then used the opportunity to give the team and David Beckham a gobful. FIFA is investigating the breach, and Joseph has been arrested by the South African police and charged with trespassing. Given they went a bloke down for five years for stealing a mobile phone the other day, we wish Mr Joseph well.
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