Host heading South

With a 3-0 loss to Uruguay, Wednesday, the South African Lions must play for a miracle against France in their final group stage game, if they are not to become the first host nation to fail to progress from the group stages since its introduction back in 1950.  And to make things really tough, South Africa will have to do so without suspended midfielder Dikgachoiits and first choice keeper, Khune.

Whilst Uruguay never looked under threat, the 3-0 scoreline could have been quite different had Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan brought down in the box at 1-0, resulting both in Khune’s sending off and the penalty which doubled Uruguay’s lead, been ruled offside, as seemed the case in the replay, thanks to the slight deflection which took the ball to Suarez’s feet as the defence chased out.

Admittedly, a really difficult call for the referee to make but since South Africa, as hosts, will have spent hundreds of millions building stadia and improving infrastructure, the South African Football Association may well be lamenting FIFA’s reluctance to spend a little more on the tv replay evidence which in either confirming the offside, or not, would at least have ensured the Fair Play FIFA boasts of and even awards trophies for, was seen to be being upheld.

Had South Africa lost only  1-0, the Lions would be going into next Tuesday’s game against France with the hope of even a scraped win taking them through and would have their first choice keeper helping them do it rather than only a prayer for the miracle victory they now, desperately, need.

Lets hope South Africans will make good use of their wonderful new stadia and not let them rot as China reportedly intends to let happen with its $400 million plus 2008 showpiece, the Birds Nest National Stadium.

Swiss bank a shocker.

Spain, one of the favourites to win the entire competition and currently one of Europe’s so-called “PIGGS” staring  economic meltdown in the face, loses, without demonstrating anything like the same desire to win it that was evident in their real desire not to lose it, for the first time, to rank outsiders, Switzerland.

Switzerland, better known for banks and bank accounts than for its sporting achievements is home not only to FIFA and the International Olympic Committee but also to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the organisation which together with FIFA fined Mutu, formerly of Chelsea, £14 million for doing only what many successful bankers are doing every night of the week, if Wall Street and other Hollywood movies are anything to go by.

My guess is that this otherwise incredible decision must be due to the fact that when twenty-something footballers make mistakes, their fans go home really upset whereas when bankers, of twenty-something and up, make mistakes we just go home poorer, assuming we (especially Mutu) still have homes to go home to.

Strange that this story which dates back to 2004 should have made headlines now right in the middle of the 2010 World Cup but what a stick for FIFA to remind players, many of whom will be undergoing drug tests during the event, that it has in its bag.

Thank heavens theres no such thing as a corrupt dope tester and its impossible to tamper with the results.

Blame Canadian

So Robert Green’s hot-ex Canadian girlfriend dumping him so close to the World Cup finals was what caused his aberration against the Americans.   For his sake I hope not.

Much as I, as a recently separated man, can sympathise with his emotional state after being found surplus to requirements by his partner, if, as a professional keeper whose total concentration was required for such limited periods in that US game, that was all that was required for him to become a liability to his team then he might as well turn in his fat gloves now.

Given the publicity the gorgeous pouting yet previously unknown Elizabeth Minett has received over her possible role (roll?) in the howler, isn’t it much more likely that Green just had one of those days that has plagued England keepers since Gordon Banks’ time and her agent, seeing the opportunity to get her on the inside pages, leapt and grasped that chance with considerably more skill than Green demonstrated in the fraction of a second that will haunt him for the rest of his England career.

Ironically, whilst Ms. Minett reportedly comes from a family famous for its intellectual accomplishments and has been described as very bright (with a 2008 economics degree from the university of Waterloo) either that particular family trait really wasn’t passed in the genes or when, as reported 0n, she said, “I started learning French when I was 3 and am pretty much fluent. I even have a cousin living in Paris who is married to a Frenchman” she suffered a howler of her own, albeit an intellectual one.

I have Italian cousins, real ones born and bred in Italy, yet I can’t speak a word of Italian.  Except the swear words that is.  There is no correlation – not that noticed that (although to be fair they may have been trying to decide which picture to go with at the time).

Then again, of course, since Ms. Minett has dual Canadian and US citizenship and presumably knows things about Green he might not want made public (such as my soon to be ex knows about me), maybe the howler really is evidence of truly sinister forces at work and we should view everyone less than 100% English as potentially part of a conspiracy to stop England from winning what should rightfully be ours this year.

But wouldn’t that mean we should be keeping a very close eye on Fabio, the Italian guy who put the love-sick Green in the net in the first place?

Just one more reason this Anglo-paddy will keep watching, for all our sakes.

Hello World Cup!

It’s not even the end of Day 5 of the 2010 World Cup and already so much injustice has been recorded – missed fouls, unfair bookings, a dodgy sending off and an offside goal –  that I can no longer remain silent about FIFA’s refusal to take all reasonable steps to discourage such foreseeable “errors”, by refusing to allow referees the same tv replays we couch potato pundents base our judgments on.

FIFA’s refusal is threatening to allow football’s World Cup, the showcase event for the world’s “Beautiful Game”, to become just another reality TV show, where winners can be decided by guile and deceit rather than skill and integrity.

There are enough un-sporting organisations off the field with vested interests in what happens on it – how fortunate for BP and their shareholders that England could only manage a draw with the USA?  (And how appropriate that the guy credited with giving the USA the point and indeed who stopped them getting all three, is called “Green”?) – that the last thing the game needs is any suggestion that its ruling body isn’t doing all it can to ensure the best team wins.

Until FIFA realises that and introduces tv replays the only people FIFA should be fining, suspending or banning for allowing the game to be brought into disrepute are the individual FIFA board members themselves.

More later as Brazil v North Korea is about to kick off (and yes I know I need a different photo)