Today is “Football Day” on aliens and strangers.
Last week, I made the following statement:
Can I pause to tell you how much I dislike the Italian soccer side — bunch of divers, divas, and complaining whiners who play for ties and desire nothing more than to win matches in PKs?
Today, we’re going to look deeper into the “art” (read that “loathsome and reprehensible act”) of diving (aka flopping). For our soccer-challenged friends, see the following (very official) definitions:
- to deliberately fall when challenged in order to deceive the referee into awarding a foul
- to commit the most despicable foul in sport, feinting injury for gain
- to cry like a little girl on a football pitch when you were never touched
- to play football like either an Italian or Cristiano Ronaldo
One of the most obvious dives of all time — Brazil’s Rivaldo (which, by the way, resulted in a player from Turkey being sent off the pitch):
Before moving on, I need to confess that I used to dive when I was a little kid. Not in attempts to deceive the referees, though, but rather the crowd. It also wasn’t generally in soccer, but other sports. You see, I hated failure — yet, I did it all the time. I was uncoordinated when I was little, and I was always embarrassed when I was tagged out in t-ball or missed a shot in basketball. So it seems I developed a defense mechanism of pretending to have been injured. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure whether I flopped in order to hide my failures… or my tears. I think my tears might have been real; I was crying because I’d failed. So I feinted pain in order to make the tears seem justified. It must have looked ridiculous to the adults who knew better. But now I’m wondering if Ronaldo and the Italians aren’t diving to mask their own sorrows? Either way, I admit I was wrong and apologize for wounding the integrity of sport. And let it be noted that I surely stopped by the age of 11. Now for a few worthwhile links exploring the dive:
Time Magazine addresses the issue of diving, calling it “arguably the worst aspect of a dark art which has infiltrated football over the past few years.”
NPR with Irish author Frank Delaney. We learn that Italian players roll over three or four times, Russians fall with a thud, the French attempt faces of anguish, while the English just sit and swear. He even blames Argentina’s theatrics on a large Italian contingency in their country. This is a good read.
Italy: Divas of the World Cup
And now we turn to the Italians themselves. Can I just tell you how happy I am with their non-advance in the 2010 World Cup? This blog post, actually, is written in honor of just that. I’m not one to revel in the pain, misfortune, or shortcomings of my enemies, but on this one day, please celebrate with me that the Italians have gone home. Today we salute the Slovakians, New Zealanders and Paraguayans of the world. And a toast to the Italians’ failure to win a single match in what was arguably the weakest group in this year’s World Cup. [Did I just negate my tribute to those three countries by referring to their group as delicate and fragile? I feel a little bad, but my disdain for Italy’s soccer club blinds me to what is polite and proper; I become an uncivilized man].
Daniele De Rossi demonstrates everything I despise about the Italian side (okay, half of what I despise — I also don’t care for playing for ties and penalty kicks). [Notice that Daniele has a girl’s name to go with his portrayal of a 6-year old princess — or a 10-year old me…]
Speaking of the New Zealand match, NPR’s Dick Meyer comments, “Everyone on the Italian side looked like Cristiano Ronaldo at his worst. If the Italians had directed the energy devoted to their play-acting into some heart and hussle, they surely would have beaten the outgunned underdogs. Their low-rent play made the New Zealand performance that much more noble.”
Oh, I love it. Ronaldo and the Italians both called out in the same paragraph — Ronaldo as a deplorable brand of play, and the Italians as that brand of play at it’s worst. Bravo, Meyer.
This is Meyer again, saying goodbye to the Italian side; this guy’s a man after my own heart. And I learned a new word during all of my gloating. Schadenfreude. Apparently it’s German for “a mischievous delight in the misfortunes of others.” Don’t say my blog’s not educational.
Brazil vs. Portugal
Now we turn our eyes to the future. [I’m starting to feel guilty for all my schadenfreuding.] Here are a couple of previews of the next match I’m really excited about — Brazil vs. Portugal. I’ll be honest, I don’t really like either team, though I respect their play a great deal. Cristiano Ronaldo is my least favorite player in the world, but I think I still may cheer for his side — because they’re the slight underdogs. Though Brazil playing without Kaka just might level the playing field. I’m taking Portugal, if only because Kaka’s sitting and Brazil’s had two goals scored against them this tournament (to Portugal’s none) — Portugal 2, Brazil 1.
USA vs. Ghana
And lastly, a few previews of our USA vs. Ghana match. This is a huge match here in Tanzania. Africa really pulls together and cheers as a continent. We have advertisements in every commercial break encouraging viewers to cheer for Africa… as a whole. There’s one commercial (I really enjoy) that shows an emotional homecoming for African players who have previously gone away to play in Europe — the advertisement celebrates their return to the dark continent for the 2010 Cup.
But Tanzania also loves the United States. Just yesterday a local friend was reminding me that the vast majority of Tanzanians think very highly of both Clinton and Bush — Clinton for his work to help alleviate AIDS and Bush for his fight against malaria. He said that if I walked into just a few homes and asked about their mosquito nets, the owners (or renters or squatters) would likely credit the US and George Bush for those very nets.
So this is a big match here, with mixed feelings.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say this is the first match in which we (the US) start the game well and take advantage of a slightly higher percentage of our opportunities. [Remember, we’re playing to avenge our 2-1 loss to Ghana in the 2006 World Cup.] I think our defense holds up well against a Ghana side (without Essein) who hasn’t scored in actual play, and I’m looking for our best match in quite some time. I predict Michael Bradley plays a pivotal role by shooting from long-range, and leads us to a victory and advancement in the Cup. USA 3, Ghana 0.
Enjoy the games, my football friends.