It was supposed to be spectacular. A football feast that drew the best in the world. One month of awesome talent on display – and all on the African continent, despite the reservations of many; and the phantom terrorist threats that others so boldly claimed.
I speak, of course, of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which is being held here in South Africa.
The tournament has, thus far, been professional and well-organised. Aside from wage disputes with stadium security, the tournament has been relatively trouble-free.
We have our shiny new stadiums; sophisticated transport systems; and upgraded roads and airports – all of which cost the country (and its taxpayers many millions). And all in all, things seem to be looking up in terms of promoting future tourism to South Africa.
But, for me, the big irony in all of this glitz and glamour is the basic premise on which the tournament is being held: the game of football.
I haven’t analysed the statistics – but so far, it seems to me that this has been a most boring tournament in terms of actual football. I think the majority of the games have ended up as draws – and low-scoring draws at that.
I haven’t watched all of the games – actually only a few, and bits and pieces here and there – but the results so far tell me that this isn’t the mega-tournament it was billed to be.
Aside from Uruguay embarrassing the hosts 3-0, and Germany’s 4-0 opening win, I haven’t been impressed with the results or the play so far.
France are a huge disappointment, and England are not far behind (although, if Rooney can hit form, that can very easily change). Many of the big teams are stuttering while less-famous countries, like Mexico and Uruguay, are thriving.
In fact, it seems the biggest star of the tournament has been the “Vuvuzela” (the horns you hear at every game) – which, in my opinion, is a cultural thing that Europeans and others just need to get used to – rather than complaining about it. After all, just because singing – and not trumpets – are the norm in England and Europe, it doesn’t mean that everything else is some twisted perversion of how a crowd ‘should’ behave at a soccer game. (See Azra’s views on it here).
We’re only just over a week into the tournament, so there’s plenty of time for things to turn around on the football fields. But, so far, it’s just been a very average tournament – which is sad for South Africa; because we don’t want to be branded as the country that hosted the most boring World Cup ever.
What are your thoughts on the tournament so far?