Ah unlovable Albion, you actually thought you were going to win the World Cup?
5 months ago, 16 July 10:55
They were talking soccer everywhere, the world over, but nowhere as much as in Thailand.
Even the eyes that were continually glued to the television sets that showed only images from Russia had to unglue themselves from time to time to watch the news channels streaming the coverage of the efforts by Thai and international crews to try and rescue the 13 young footballers trapped for two weeks in flooded caves in Thailand.
Eventually, the whole team was hauled to the surface, to the wonderment and praise of all the world. The courage of the young survivors, and the grit and ingenuity of the rescuers, were saluted as exemplary.
We are still to get the full story of the miracle of this extraordinary feat, but I am certain it will not be long before books start showing up in stalls and movies start screening about this amazing episode.
Some people were already suggesting that the boys be airlifted to Russia to watch the final stages of the World Cup tournament, but that may be too hectic to arrange for now. At least we know the youngsters would enjoy the closing matches in the warmth and comfort of their homes, surrounded by very relieved families.
Which is a far cry from many soccer teams that were in the competition in Russia but had to bow out of the contest through elimination. We have seen footage of teams arriving home to be met with rotten tomatoes and stones because they did not bring the Cup with them.
Football is a kind of disease that has infected almost the entire world and whose highest fevers are registered globally every four years when this contest takes place.
The malady feeds on the frenzied nationalism of hordes of supporters who revel in the emotional overkill that grips them and whose jingoism is pandered to by a shamelessly dishonest media industry.
We all have to compensate for our shortcomings, and if that compensation can be delivered by 11 young men chasing and kicking a bag full of air while we sit, watch and shout ourselves hoarse in support, so be it.
The media encourages the feeling that, where we have all failed to cover ourselves in glory, somehow these young lads will do it for us.
It is this kind of disingenuous media that made the English believe they were winning the Cup, despite all the evidence that showed their eleven to be lacklustre, flatfooted and ordinary. When they were knocked out by a plucky and technically superior Croatia, it was a huge pleasure for more than half of mankind.
The English learned a long time ago to make themselves perfectly unlovable, a quality that today is contested by many other societies in the world.
But probably the greatest saving grace coming out of Albion’s ouster is that the world will not have to put up with another half-century of vain English media deifying ordinary mortals as it did with the likes of Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law, Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks and others ...
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