Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Football - The Final Saga

We watched the final football match with some friends who had dropped by from Berkeley. Sitting on a blanket, sipping wine and munching on cheeslings while the sleepy stomach protested. We watched the game with a growing sense of dismay and disgust; the kick from de Jong was one of the worst scenes of the match.

Our friend predicted that Spain would score in the 75th minute and then, as the clock ticked by, changed it to the 89th minute. Finally, when they moved into extra time, we left, feeling that we had watched a game that was never allowed to take off. Fortunately the Spaniards seemed to be keeping their cool.

We drove back through the deserted streets, hoping that it was too late for the sniffer policemen - it was past two in the morning after all. Next morning, we were naturally pleased to know the result, especially as it was Fernando Torres's pass and Iniesta's kick that made the day (I really enjoy watching Iniesta on the field).

We heaved a collective sigh of relief for the fact that ugliness had not won over skill. And appreciated wholeheartedly Vincent del Bosque's words when he said, "I'm here to talk about the beautiful things in football."

For that is eventually what should matter. Let's not complain about the fact that FIFA has blocked most internet sites that show that final winning goal, preventing people from seeing it after it is all over. It is not about the Hand of God that denied the only African team an opportunity to reach the semifinals. It is not about what South Africa will do with the stadium and how much money has gone into the tournament- and to whom. Nor is it about Shakira's performances (at least the incredible Ladysmith Black Mambazo was asked to perform as well). Many of these things are orchestrated in complex ways. But when we all stay up to watch a football match, we hope at least that we will see some games of beauty and intelligence being played out.

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