Archive for England

Did the World Cup just get bigger?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , on June 24, 2010 by prekosifa

Okay, okay so it is only four weeks, every four years and I am going there and talking about football….again. And there is so much to say now, especially after USA’s Oscar winning footballing award for outstanding and overzealous celebrations, for winning their group. Perhaps only in America will players thank the Lord, God, Jesus, the Bible and ‘all the thousands of fans that made this possible’. Only an American would start crying in front of millions for just qualifying to the knockout stages. Only In America would a former president give an interview praising the sterling efforts of his boys, (did Clinton perhaps confuse the vuvuzelas for gunfire and Bloemfontein for the Gulf??)

Only in America!

But a friend of mine, and a female one at that, pointed out something that was obvious to her, a fully fledged and boldly stated football hater, but not to any of my other so called professional footballing mates.

‘This is the start, mark my words’ she began. ‘Can you imagine what it would be like if the USA won the bloody thing?’ She went on to state that she gave the USA, eight more years to be fully fledged World contenders; for the game of football to take on an entirely different face; and for wages akin to Pro football stars and NBA megastars becoming commonplace. She foresaw a time in the not too distant future where top European players would fight to play on American soil and she foresaw an even scarier vision of what the new Wag would be like. (She also spoke about them living in houses as large as the borough of Hackney but by then it may have just been the drink talking!).

But after all of the celebrations, and the super speech given by Mr Donovan, it suddenly dawned on me that a bigger statement had been made. You see, football’s home is England. It is our national sport, the one thing we have which we know we created. Now we may not be the best at it but our Premiership is arguably the toughest division throughout all of the World’s leagues and we have always garnered a bit of respect for this fact, and for winning the world cup in 1966, (yes I mentioned it…sorry!), but now with the USA beating us at our own game, I am sure the victory is all the sweeter.

Now we can no longer claim to be better than the USA. They can beat us at football whereas we would always struggle to beat them at Basketball, American Football, Hockey or Baseball. A big thing happened on Wed 23rd June 2010, and the secret meaning behind all of the celebrations was not lost on me. America can lose their next game and not lose any of the respect that they have rightly earned. If England loses, we lose a whole lot more.

Now there is a valid and understandable reason why the USA should be better than poor old blighty and the reason is purely a question of size. The USA is a continent, cunningly classed as a country. America’s pool of sportsmen is the equivalent of a British team consisting of players from the whole of Europe (and probably parts of the Far East too.) An England team is possibly the equivalent of an American team consisting of players picked only from Kansas. How good a team could you really create with that genetic bundle to choose from?

So the scales of justice unfairly favour the bigger man. By continually getting better and better, the American public will begin to get behind this fledgling sport. Once this happens, the money men will move in and then anything becomes possible. Before long the beautiful game will be officially known as Soccer and the ‘real’ footie fans will be relegated to the minor leagues and pub teams of Great Britain. Bleak!

But why does America want a piece of the pie anyway? Is it for anything other than money? Does pride come into play at all? Money is the motivating factor that makes any greased wheel turn around quicker creating spoils greater than anything we can possibly imagine. We may think the Russians have money, wait til Nike and the like get a bite of this cookie!

If I sound bitter it is only because I know the end is inevitable. David Beckhams’ ‘relocation’ to sunnier, shinier and smilier climes was only the beginning, there will be others.

‘If you build it they will come’

Never a truer word has been said for never a truer moment

Right now though, the World Cup is still on, there are many more games to play and anything can truly happen. And when the winner is announced and the celebrations begin just take a moment to see who finishes where. Those teams we tend to forget about who may come out in the knockout stages having far surpassed how far they expected to go.

These are the teams to be watching out for and one of them will be the USA.

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World Cup Mania

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , on June 16, 2010 by prekosifa

Just when women were about to switch back on their television sets and get comfortable after the viewing spectacle that is the premiership, then the World Cup arrives on our shores, takes hold of every sane man, gay and straight, and gives us all a reason to spend hours in the pub or at home in front of the TV cheering on just whoever the fuck we want to. We are doing our bit for world relations, our bit for world peace and their can be no finer city to experience it in than London.

Being from Manchester it is not easy for me to stand behind those words, but alas they are true. You see for me, the World Cup is more than just a football competition; it is the chance to get to know and learn about other countries, other cultures, and other ways to celebrate a goal! And in London we have the biggest multicultural mix in the world. Guaranteed that no matter what match you are watching, there will be a bar somewhere in this city filled to the brim of Slovenians or Paraguayans or whoever is playing, cheering their little pants off. That is what makes this city so wonderful to be in at this time, the chance of meeting people form entirely different cultures is so high that any trip into the West end alone becomes like a trek across the whole of Europe and the Middle East.

And they get behind their teams, women included. I remember once a few years back whilst I was working for a large International company. The bosses decided to put a large screen, in the dining room and to play all the games. Every game their was a representative form that country in the company and it made the whole experience that much better than watching it by yourself or with your mates! And seeing Irena, the Brazillian from Accounts almost lose her top when Adriano scored was well worth the £1 donation,  I can tell you!

Wait until you see the rest of the kit!

So surely, with all of this available to us, on our own doorsteps, we should take advantage of what is on offer. The other week whilst on the market I bought a ring form a coupe of Albanian gentlemen (no jokes please). Rather than just pay for my goods and walk away I decided to open the lines of communication and talk to these gentlemen. Now my take on Albanians is from what I learnt in school and what I read in the papers, and let’s just say, they have received more than their fair share of bad press over the years. At one point they were, according to my economics teacher, the most communist country on the planet. So I took a few moments and asked them what it was like in their country, and was everything I heard true. We spoke for about half an hour and as I had questions for them, they had questions for me. They were forthcoming with their comments and very interesting to talk to. Now I know that half of what I had read was wrong, and they talked about what it was like to grow up under such a system. ‘Everybody had the same’ is what one of them said to me and the significance of this didn’t hit me until later that day.

I grew up in a country where the rich were much richer than the poor, where poverty existed on the same streets that millionaires drove Masseratis’ to their mansions! To compare this with a system where no one had anything? Where everyone was ‘equal’?  To be honest, I don’t know who had it wrong but I certainly saw that perhaps what my economics teacher was spouting all those years ago was a little bit biased.
To understand someone you must walk a mile in their shoes and this was no different. I walked away from that stall understanding more about another country than any text book had ever told me and I had received this information first hand.

There was a time when I was able to know exactly where someone was from just by looking at them. Growing up in this country, if I saw another black person they were either from the West Indies, Nigeria or Ghana; Asian, India or Pakistan; White England, ireland, Scotland or Wales, it seemed no other countries were travelling into Britain. Nowadays I couldn’t even throw out a guess, Congolese, Ivorians, Tibetans, Slovenians, Brazillians, you name it they are here and they offer the perfect chance to learn more about other countries in the world. But not everybody feels like this I caught the tale end of a radio interview with a guy who believes that the World Cup is used to distract the public and is only there to take advantage of the people so wrongdoing can commence behind their backs. He believes that like religion, World football is part of a bigger controversy to control the public and turn them into automated capitalists, vying or the latest football shirts, paying obscene amounts for tickets and willing to get involved in some cases with violence to get their ‘footballing political point across!

Maybe so, and I will leave you to decide on that one but in the meantime, the next time you are in town, and the football is on, why not stumble into that bar fall of Slovakians, or the one next to it full of Chileans, or indeed the one down the road full of Denmarkians?? Grab a beer, and learn a bit about a culture that is probably not to different from your own.

So why not take a sip from this world cup and savour the whole experience.