This edition of ‘the World Cup’ was and is being given added gloss and more and more coverage. This edition is said to be special as it is being held in the continent which is the poorest in the world and where the racial discrimination is largest. So because of all that this is said to be special as it would or it tries to break all the shackles and present the real Africa to the world!
I agree everything is special! But the question that again and again pings me is about the actual football on the pitch. Is that special? I certainly don't think so. At least after a round of the group matches are done with. Its not that only goals are lacking. The average goals per game is less than 2 when in the last 3 world cups it was nearly 3 at this stage. There are factors as well. Main focus, after of course the ‘Vuvuzelas’ is the ball - ‘Jabulani’. Poor thing is facing a lot of flak from players and coaches alike. Only the South African coach, Alberto Pereira, seems to like it. Casillas says its ‘rotten’ while Buffon thinks its unpredictable. Its clear the players are struggling with it for their radar, as the free kicks are going high over the ball. Adidas maintains that the ball is for accuracy!
The next concern for many is that there are less Africans even though the tournament is being held in Africa! Many say there are not many Africans watching on the stands. They say that sale of tickets only online has made it very difficult for average Africans who are not connected to internet quite often, in getting tickets. This added with the fact that there are many empty seats for lesser matches has got FIFA in a spot as they had proudly said that the rickets are sold out and there wont be any complimentary tickets like last time as they want Africans to come in. FIFA maintains that the tickets were sold but its the holders that are not making it to the stadium! Vuvuzelas make a lot of noise even though the crowd is less. But at times it is irritating boring and frustrating to say the least.
FIFA is facing the fact that it is very different from Europe or South America were every country has football as primary sport and people have the passion to travel easily from one country to another to watch football and it is much easier to do so as well, especially in Europe where, countries are at driving distances. But in Africa the financial and political conditions in many countries is not suitable for that.
Today there has been news of FIFAs organizing committee acting like an autocrat and not paying the security stewards their share. So they are on strike and this adds to the growing blemish on the tournament. But the South African police have stepped up and they are providing security as a ‘temporary arrangement’ according to an official.
Coming back to the ‘football’, goals are far and few as there has been only one entertaining performance- that by Germany, even though Argentina Vs. Nigeria and Chile Vs. Honduras were with a bit of flair as well. But overall it has been disappointing. Considering the talent that is on display- Messi, Kaka Ronaldo Torres etc etc, much was and is still expected of the Finals. All we can do is hope that the tournament improves. The fact that Brazil took 55 minutes to score against DPR Korea was a surprise and disappointment for me. May be ‘Jabulani’ is the cause. May be its just the teams playing defensive. Speculations are also there about the higher than sea level grounds taking literally the breath away from the players. Italians also were complaining about the bounce that the surface has and the skidding which also adds to the difficulty in controlling the ball. Even though no ‘classic’ has been played yet, there have been a few ‘upsets’. Biggest being the Swiss getting the better of much vaunted Spanish Armada!
So far the entertainment has been from outside the pitch with the Vuvuzelas , ‘Jabulani’ and of course Maradona vs Pele battle! Lets hope something burns up the pitch as well…