The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Location: Palms - L.A, California

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tunisia, Tunisia (and silly pundits)

The World Cup is just over a week old and the Swamp has finally found the breathing room to file a report. It’s a beautiful morning in Füssen, Bavaria and I’m enjoying one of the nicest hotel buffet breakfasts ever. The town is located near one of the most famous castles in the world, Neuschwanstein (i.e. the Disney Castle.) The castle was definitely worth seeing, but it will forever be associated with the World Cup since it’s where we saw Ghana trounce the Czech Republic.

Now, this is sweet on so many levels, where to begin? For one thing, it was deserved. That might not seem so sweet, but after 10 days plus of listening to pundits wax "xenofoolery" about African (and Asian) teams' – yes, they are almost always clumped together – lack of organization and patience, this game should seal their yappers at least for a while.

For once, they HAD to comment on the soccer: the heavily favored, supposedly superior Europeans – almost never clumped together – were taught a lesson in attacking football. And mark my word; the Czech Republic is a good team.

After that game we headed back here to Füssen, checked into our hotel and headed out in search of a place to watch the second game of note: the U.S. vs. Italy. Another ‘underdog’ up against a European team that could only avoid winning due to force majeure. It ended in a rather unfortunate tie....The U.S. deserved better.

Read this story to see how smoked up the Italian coach was. A team like Italy, who claims to aspire to greatness, “underestimates” the country that pushed Germany to the brink in the 2002 quarterfinals? The Swamp was there on that late June day in Ulsan and saw with his own blurry eyes.

Hello? What is up with the anachronistic, caught-in-a-worm-hole, alternate reality thinking of these pundits? If I know that Ghana and the U.S. can win, why do they so dearly cling on to their bags of clichés and insufferable nonsense? If they only acknowledged that this might happen, they wouldn't seem so pathetic when it inevitably does.

Non-traditional footballing nations, i.e. those outside of Europe and Brazil/Argentina, have been making an impact for decades; yet the Rip van Winkle experts seems to have woken up to their playing at this level only yesterday. I could offer you a list replete with countless stupidities uttered by these characters. Instead, I’ll summarize it in this way:
  1. If an outsider team LOSES, it is due to deficient tactics, bad coaching and eager-beaver amateur/naive players BUT

  2. If the coach is a foreigner, i.e. from a former colonial power (e.g. Togo, coached by a German, Cote D’Ivoire/Tunisia by Frenchmen) then it’s definitely just the players’ fault AND

  3. If these players are not amateurs but well-paid professionals, they can’t be called amateurs, so “spoiled” will do. NOW

  4. If the outsider team WINS it’s either due to a pure luck, a conspiracy, food poisoning incurred by the opponents or a combination of the three.
And finally, features about the outsider team are usually NOT about sport, but about “exotic” things like witchdoctors, kids playing with rag-balls, the “traditions” of the countries etc.
No doubt, stereotypes always have something to them and thus you could have similar stories about e.g. France or Argentina. But somehow you never do. Wonder why….

I'll be returning to Berlin in a couple of days and will try to file a couple of somewhat more lucid reports. After attending tomorrow’s game between Tunisia and Spain, I’ll be able to comment with more authority on the Cup itself.

Who am I really cheering for? Read this and ponder....

But as you can probably tell from the photos, it’s all about Tunisia…for now.


jo

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that you linked to the WP article on identity issues and the World Cup. It was good food for thought, indeed. Jennie

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You summed it up. It never ceases to exasperate me how condescending the European media coverage of the games is. Even at work, there's an unpoken assumptio of European superiority. Yikes. _Mango

1:34 PM  

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