In the history of the World Cup, there have been great goals, fantastic players, moments to make you cheer and cry but more importantly, LAUGH! Here are Twelfth Shirt’s top five funny moments.
The confederations cup, held in South Africa last month, wasn’t just another international tournament aimed at separating the loyal football fan from the Pounds/Dollars/Rands/Euros (delete as applicable) in his pocket – it was used as a dress rehearsal for the main event some 12 months hence.
On the whole, South Africa passed with flying colours, sure there are a few areas that need to addressed – the pitches were abysmal, players and spectator’s kit went missing and the park and ride was more park than ride.
Perhaps the biggest issue to come out of this tournament was that of the humble vuvuzela – a long plastic horn sometimes know as a “Lepatata”.
I have never been in a football stadium where these horns have been blown but I have been subjected to a cricket match where the opposing fans blew their horns non-stop for 5 days. To say that this was annoying is an understatement. However the vuvuzela is beefed up version of what those Pakistan fans were blowing at Old Trafford. By all accounts it takes a decent amount of puff and some tricky jaw and lip work to get these beasts to work but when they do the din is just dreadful.
Imagine if you will the sound of a fully-grown cow, covered in honey, slowly being squashed to death in a car crusher whilst being tormented by the sting of 1000 bees. Now amplify that noise by 10,000% and you’re close to what a stadium full of these instruments make. Ok well that might be a bit of an exaggeration but you get my drift….
Lee Dixon even described them, during a match between USA and Italy, as “Quite irritating” – he’s a fine one to talk!
Anyway, these horns have created such a ruckus that Fifa actually considered banning the things from next year’s World Cup.
Now as much as I dislike the sound and as much as it is likely to drive me nuts next year – I can already see scores of drunken Saffers wondering around Covent Garden taking turns to scare the life out tourists with their horn blowing talents – I think banning them is a bridge too far. What next – will Sepp Blater tell us that we are no longer allowed to chant ENGERLAND, ENGERLAND, ENGERLAND on the terraces. Imagine if you were banned from all international matches simply for singing about the nocturnal activities of the referee. So you see my point – the vuvuzela is as intrinsic to South African football as singing is to the English game. And if South African fans thing that blowing these horns will intimidate the opposing fans – just wait until they hear the chorus of 20,000 English fans!
Anyway – Sepp Blater has announced that the horns will not be banned – and quite right to. Annoying as they are, it seems they are here to stay.
World Cup Heroes and Villains
Welcome to the start of our journey where each week, all the way up to the start of the World Cup, we will profile a player who made an impact at a World Cup. What was their story and what ever happened to them? Well, that’s what we’re here for!
It’s Only a Game!
Andres Escobar Saldarriaga once told Colombian journalist Gonzalo Medina why he enjoyed playing football. According to the national team’s defender, “this sport illustrates the close relationship between life and the game. In football, unlike bullfighting, there is no death. In football no one dies; no one gets killed. It’s more about the fun of it, about enjoying.”
Escobar did what millions of footballers have done since the game was invented; he conceded an own goal. It happened in a World Cup match vs the USA (possibly not the best opposition to do it against) in 1994. An important game for Colombia, yes but what happened next would shock the entire world. For Escobar, it was the only own goal he ever put past his own keeper during his career and it would prove to be the mistake that would cost him his life.
Only a few days later— on July 2, 1994— a bodyguard called Humberto Muñoz Castro, who worked for the brothers Juan Santiago and Pedro David Gallón. He was shot six times in a parking lot of a bar in Medellín. The player had gathered there with some friends to grab a drink after his return from the States. He had come back to Colombia to “face the country”, canceling a family trip that would take him and his family across the United States, from coast to coast.
Colombian writer Ricardo Silva Romero, who published Autogol (Own goal)— a novel based on the player’s tragedy—, describes Andrés as a tragic character. “He was the only person who shouldn’t have gone through that. He was a good boyfriend, a good son, a good colleague and a good uncle.” He was a talented footballer who had massively helped his nation reach the 1990 World Cup for the first time in 30 years and was apparently lined up to play for AC Milan after the 1994 tournament.
The incident re-affirmed negative stereo types about the violence in Colombia and the control that organized crime had in the country.
Muñoz Castro, the gunman, served 11 of his 43 year sentence. This was due to “good conduct.” The Gallón brothers only spent a few days behind bars, after paying a fine.
The footballer’s father died recently and his family said it was due to a broken heart.” Sad, to say the least.
Due to its relative economic prosperity, South Africa attracts its fair share of illegal immigrants and migrant workers. Indeed of its 47 million inhabitants, it is believed that some 3-5million crafty buggers are unregistered.
South Africa is doing its best to make the month long tournament as easy for the world’s tourists to get to as possible. For those that are travelling from countries that with no official visa arrangement, the SA government is offering them a special “event visa” which, assuming they have match tickets, a place to stay and return flight, will allow them into the country. Although anyone caught overstaying their visa will be hoofed out forthwith.
Racial tensions already exist in the country – many of SA’s citizens blame illegal immigrants for much of the country’s violence and high unemployment rate. Last year some 70 people were killed in shanty-towns because the were believed to be immigrants. Yet despite this Dr Darshan Vigneswaran, a migration expert at Johannesburg’s University of Witwatersrand, says migrants will continue to arrive because entry can easily be obtained by paying a bribe at the border.
“That powder keg is still there,” said Vigneswaran. “In a year of economic downturn, as very wealthy people celebrate (the World Cup), there will be people being killed in townships for being foreigners.”
Probably best that you stay away from the townships then, folks.
Much has been said on this topic and many a sunday afternoon in the pub has been ruined because of arguments that this has sparked. I hope this one is no different.So here, to add fuel to the already roaring fire is Twelfth Shirt’s top five goals of recent World Cup history.
1 – Diego Maradona: Argentina v England, 1986
Not content with scoring the most Illegally sublime goal in World Cup history (Hand of God), two minutes later Maradona produced the most legally sublime goal in world cup history.
Maradona takes the ball from his own half and just simply runs, in an almost straight line, towards the England goal avoiding every single defender’s boot en route before slipping passed the unlucky Shilton and scoring what is widely rearded as the greatest gol in world cup history. Legendary.
2 – Esteban Cambiasso: Argentina vs. Serbia and Montenegro. 2006
Argentina put six goals passed the hapless Eastern Europeans but none was quite so sweet as their second. This goal is exquisite because there are a total of 24 passes before Cambassio gets the final boot to it. It really is a to to watch.
3 – Dennis Bergkamp: Netherlands v Argentina, 1998
In the final five minutes before extra time, Frank de Boer sends a beautiful pass, some 50 yards, to the boot of Bergkamp. Bergkamp plucks the ball out of the air, cuts inside and finishes with the outside of his boot to utter delight of Dutch (And English) fans everywhere.
5 – Michael Owen: England v Argentina, 1998
It’s the sheer pace of the young striker that makes this goal so exciting. After controlling the pass from David Beckham, Owen sets off on a run that would leave the Argentinean defence (and much of England) breathless. He finishes the ball with a sweet shot that totally beats the keeper to find the back of the net in what is probably the best goal of his international career.
We wanted to include the Joe Cole goal against Sweden (surely one of the greatest goals ever scored by England) but for the fact that Owen’s belter was against far superior opponents.
6 – Roberto Baggio: Italy v Czechoslovakia, 1990
Roberto Baggio who was making his debut appearance in the World Cup finals receives the ball on his own half way line, plays a quick one-two, makes a spectacular surge forward before deftly curling the ball around the keeper for the first of Italy’s two goals of the match.
…and finally – Saeed El Oweiran: Saudi Arabia v Belgium, 1994
Ok, ok, ok – so I guess I ought to mention the Saudi one too, it is a great goal after all. However I didn’t include it in my top five because, well… frankly my Nan could score against Belgium!
It does bear a striking resemblance to the Maradona goal, don’t you think?
In less than 12 months time 94,000 spectators at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg and countless millions of footie fans around the world will watch the opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Picking the winner this far in advance is never going to be an easy task and emotion normally gets in the way of any sensible decisions – however the favourites to lift the trophy are surely Spain, Brazil and the current champions, Italy. Although we shouldn’t rule out the likes of Germany, Argentina or even those crafty little buggers in orange, the Dutch.
As for England’s chances, well I’d rather not get into that right now – 35 years of crushed dreams and disappointments have left me cold and despondent….. that is of course until the first ball of the tournament is kicked and then it’s ENGERLAND, ENGERLAND, ENGERLAND all the way….
…to the semis!
Capello looks to have us on the right path though and it seems that the press have finally done the decent thing and are letting him get on with his job. Woe betides the poor bugger though if we go out in the first round!
Developers in South Africa are going bonkers ensuring that everything is ready on time and the locals are preparing themselves for the influx of football fans from around the world. Indeed local prostitutes must be rubbing their hands in anticipation but with the rate of HIV and AIDS at an all time high that may be all they end up rubbing.
In preparation for the World Cup, South Africa is hosting the Confederation Cup – seen by many as the test run for next year’s tournament. It will be interesting to see how the county’s infrastructure copes and where, if any, the cracks will appear.