Breaking the curse of 1966

As a player, Gareth Southgate missed the final penalty that saw England crash out of the 1996 European Championships in the semi-finals – a kick that started the latest 22 years of hurt for England. As England manager at Russia 2018 he might just have begun a quiet revolution that could end the curse of 1966.

England did not win or reach the final of this year’s football World Cup, crashing out to Croatia in the semis. But perhaps manager Southgate, the Football Association and the players have sown the seeds for future success. Read more of this post

England’s impossible feet

On paper, England look set for a quarter final clash with either Germany or Brazil in the upcoming World Cup in Russia. On grass, however, England often end up disappointing.

Premier League stars such as Sterling, Alli, and Kane ought to ensure that England qualify easily from what looks to be the easiest group of the World Cup – Group G with Panama, Tunisia and Belgium. And in the second round, Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan also look beatable. Read more of this post

Post-World Cup xenophobia in South Africa

After the euphoria and apparent pan-African pride of the 2010 World Cup, xenophobia has resurfaced in South Africa. After the World Cup final, there have been a steady trickling of reports of violence against foreigners. Some examples of this are the five Zimbabweans and Mozambicans who were injured in Kya Sands yesterday, one having been cut with an axe, after battles between foreigners and locals in the Johannesburg township; a Malawian man being killed and having had his genitals cut of last week; shops belonging to foreigners in townships in Cape Town having been burnt down and looted during the past two weeks ; two Somalis being killed and two others wounded when their shop was attacked in Worcester last week; and hundreds of foreigners who have businesses in the Mbekweni township near Paarl being escorted to safety by police officers when locals began looting their shops during the World Cup Final. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: England play “one of the worst games ever” yet again…

So if all goes to plan in this World Cup, England will scrape through the group stage with unspectacular wins over Algeria and Slovenia and loose to Germany or Serbia in the second round, or France in the quarterfinals, on penalties. But perhaps this is being overtly defeatist?

I wrote this five days ago after England’s 1-1 draw with the USA. Apparently, I was being rather optimistic in my pessimism because England (and France for that matter) does not look like a team that has the will, or the skill, to progress.

Tonight’s goalless draw against Algeria must go down as one of the worst performances, or at least one of the most lacklustre, in recent history, although I guess the term “one of the worst” is becoming something of a cliché when talking of England’s performances in major tournaments (or in the case of 2007, 1993, 1983, 1977 and 1973 in failing to qualify for them).

Players like Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, Cole, Terry, all valuable, world class players for their clubs were all made to look very mediocre indeed by an Algerian side whose captain plays for a mid-table French side. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: The positive side of the World Cup

Having already dealt with the undeniable negative sides of the 2010 World Cup, such as human rights violations, unnecessary expenditure, and South African riot police charging peaceful demonstrators, let us look at the positive side of the World Cup for South Africa and Africa as a whole.

On the pitch, South Africa drew 1-1 with Mexico, having gone 1-0 up from a magnificent strike from Tshabalala. Ghana deservedly beat Serbia 1-0, with a both skilful and tactically adept performance. And although Nigeria expectedly lost 1-0 to Maradona’s Argentina, Algeria lost 1-0 to Slovenia, and Cameroon and the Ivory Coast are yet to play, the World Cup can therefore be seen as having been a relative success for Africa on the pitch so far. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: Will England disappoint yet again?

Yesterday seemed something of a déjà vu for England fans: Enormous expectations ahead of a major tournament that were doused by personal error and underachievement. This time it was England goalkeeper Rob Green’s schoolboy error of a fumble from a seemingly harmless shot from Clint Dempsey that saw the USA earn a point, but there have been many other disappointments.

In 1950, an England team that was supposedly one of the best in the world shockingly lost 1-0 to the USA in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in what is probably the biggest upset in World Cup history and a premonition of things to come. Even the USA, a team of amateurs and semi-pro’s, hadn’t really believed themselves capable of winning, and had been out drinking the night before. Joe Gaetjens, a dishwasher by trade, scored the winning goal. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: The people’s game?

Just when I thought that the commercialisation of football and the disregard for its fans couldn’t get any worse, the unimaginable happened: Football’s “main event”, the World Cup that FIFA has branded the “people’s game”, is no longer available to all. In Denmark where I live, 21 of the games played at the 2010 the World Cup can only be seen on an obscure commercial channel called Canal 9 that was launched as recently as 2009 . This channel initially had TV-ratings so low that they couldn’t be measured, and only a fourth of the population can see it today. Football fans elsewhere find themselves in the same pickle as in Denmark: Brazilians will have to have access to five channels to be able to see all matches, including three commercial channels;   and Argentinians, Chileans, the Chinese, Colombians, the Japanese, Norwegians, the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Americans will all need to have access to at least one commercial channel to be able to see all the games of  the 2010 World Cup. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: Hallow showpiece or hollow show-off?

There are three ways of looking at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with less than a month to go until the opening ceremony – as a good business opportunity and as something that is meant to do South Africa and Africa proud; as yet another case of African leaders more interested in financially rewarding a small elite, and in the reputation of themselves and “their country”, than the well-being of their people; or as a bit of both.

In keeping with the first view, former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, has said (in 2003) that “the successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup in Africa will provide a powerful, irresistible momentum to [the] African renaissance … [and] will send ripples of confidence from the Cape to Cairo – an event that will create social and economic opportunities throughout Africa” . Read more of this post

VM i Sydafrika nærmer sig

Ud over den næsten euforiske stemning der hersker i Sydafrika over at skulle afholde VM om under to måneder, er der desuden en forsigtig optimisme i forhold til holdets chancer i turneringen. Træner Carlos Alberto Parreira, der tidligere har ført sit fødeland Brasilien til VM-sejr i 1994,  har efter sigende været vred over kvaliteten af modstandere i optaktskampene, men mener at holdet stille og roligt er ved at spille sig i form og spille som en enhed. ”Alle på holdet ved at VM er lige om hjørnet, og forventningerne er høje fra vores tilhængere, så vi må spille som et kollektiv”, sagde Parreira således i et interview for nyligt. Read more of this post