Thursday, July 13, 2006

World Cup Fever.....

Somehow people still think of me as Soccer Guy. Despite the fact that I haven’t coached in three years, or refereed in two. Maybe the fact that I am still enough of a nut to invite all the Mexicans in Cachagua for a free breakfast to watch Mexico v Portugal at 6am on my day off…..or the fact that we turned down Ridge Watson’s surprise birthday party at Joullian cuz it was on the day of The Final.

My Main Wine Man Alex Lallos quit his job at Heller Vineyards so he could watch the World Cup. This is True Soccer Madness. Alex has a job for life….and the enduring respect of a grateful nation.

Anyhow, I got a million phone calls about The Final, and about The Cup as a whole.

First off, rent The Cup. It is a great, sweet movie about Buddhist monks in Tibet trying to watch the World Cup….you gotta love it. Drop by, and you can borrow my copy. The true World Cup Spirit.

I loved the Africans…..I loved the Spanish…….I loved the South Americans. They all got fucked. Tant pis. The Argentine coach refused to play Messi because…….he wouldn’t suck his dick in the shower? Who knows…..a kid who dominates the field of play, totally disrupts the opponents careful strategies.....give him twenty minutes a game, max. This is from the same country that booted Batistuta from the team at the top of his career because he wouldn’t get a haircut… go figure.

The great thing about soccer is that any team can beat any other team on any given day. LA Galaxy can beat ManU. Really. Unfortunately, the flip side is also true: Diving dumbass Portugese beat anyone; Poland loses to Germany in the final seconds; Australia loses to Italy in the last SECOND; the Africans lose to Brazil, despite being better Brazilians than the actual Brazilians. No worries…..the next World Cup is in Africa!

And fuck the Middle Eastern dudes. They may have the oil, and the money…..but they suck. Even with Dutch coaches. Australia, Korea and Japan should just seed through and get over it.

Anyway….on to The Final.

We worked for Stupid Germans till 3am Saturday night. I use the term advisedly. These were stupid, untrustful, disorganized Germans….who kept us out late and their Harvard Alumni credit cards were no damn good.

Sunday Brunch at the Cachagua Store brought out a nice proliferation of new locals: sweet lesbian moms, their uptight Catholic school neighbors, hardcore local kids and my soccer mafia crew. I was felled by a migraine triggered by clouds of nicotine by the crackheads…..and perhaps the dehydration of working for three days in 90 degree heat and drinking only Diet Coke and champagne……Hey, it worked for Oscar Wilde!

I missed most of the actual game in my Imitrex fog…..but I was wide awake for the famous head butt.

All my French friends immediately freaked out and started calling, emailing and IM-ing me.

Is it legal to use the stadium replay for a referee call?

Probably not.......but they have the ficton that the referee consulted with his linesman. The linesman (now called an assistant, actually) may actually have seen the massive head strike. He certainly saw the replay, and can advise the referee before the call is made.

FIFA reviews tapes anyway and would have levelled the boom on Zidane after the match.

No matter, the French weren't going to score anyway.....everyone was exhausted, Italian and French. Trezuguet is one of the best penalty takers in the world, and was put in just for that job. He missed....tant pis. Shit happens……Frank Lampard missed his for England….along with two of his buddies. Shit happens.

MORE IMPORTANT: The London Times hired an Italian lip reader to see what Materazzi said: "Your mother is a terrorist whore!"

This World Cup was dedicated to eliminating this kind of by Thierry Henri and other black players,etc..........I think Materazzi will be in more trouble than Zidane in the end.

Italy has had a racism problem for years: fans throwing bananas at black goalkeepers, Nazi flags, banners and salutes at Lazio matches (their goalkeeper even responded with a Sieg Heil one time!). Materazzi’s taunt is right in line with the dark end of Italian soccer.

And I was so pleased with the Italian play. Normally, the Italians fall victim to SuperStar Syndrome, like the Brazilians this year: each guy is a legend in his own mind. Groupies, fawning agents, adoring fans, etc. When it comes to team play the house of cards falls down. “Why should I pass to that prick for an easy goal. Fuck him….he is trying to get on with Real and maybe I can blast it through the middle of the goalkeeper…..and what a great highlight film!” No one cooperates… goals are scored, and MAYBE they win 1-0. Not this year….they were really entertaining. Even though:

The Italians faced a double whammy. The game fixing scandal meant that Juve, Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and a couple other clubs were all going to be sentenced to play in Serie B or Serie C next year. Even though the players themselves were not involved. This is like the Yankees being sent down to Double A ball, and having to work their way back up to the Majors. (Salaries are tied to play level, and drop from 100,000 euro a week to 10, 00). Or they have to go free agent and jump to other clubs.

AND……. one of their recent teammates, Gianluca Pesotto…..who had been named team manager of Juventus, and was a sweet, hardworking guy……was so depressed by the debacle that he grabbed some rosary beads and jumped out the window of his office in a failed suicide attempt.

Under the cloud of these double disasters, and under the leadership of Fabio Cannavaro……a hardworking, humble defender…..the Azzuri dropped the superstar ego bullshit and played brilliant soccer.

Until Materazzi’s cheapshit, racist taunt.

Zidane is very proud of his Algerian heritage, and his religion. The family emigrated to Australia when he was a kid, and he took plenty enough grief along these lines back then. His stature in the soccer world is such that one would think that fellow players would be above these kinds of slurs. So much for Fair Play.

The President of France made a beautiful welcoming speech to the team and to Zidane personally at the Eysée Palace. He acknowledged the embarrassment, but thanked Zidane for his long service to the team and the country, his beautiful and inspiring play for decades, etc. Not a dry eye in the house. Not even MY house.

Zindane is still a class act in my book. Good for him......great fucking head butt, well deserved. Sticking up for Mom, and Allah! There really is a point where you don’t have to take it anymore....even in the World Cup....even in your last game as a player. Bullshit racism is a problem in soccer…..especially in Italy. Fuck you, Materazzi. Shut your mouth and play the fucking game.

Materazzi is a punk.....just watching him clown around with the trophy, sticking it in his pants, tickling it like it was balls.......made me embarrassed to be an Azzuri fan.

The fact that Zidane one the Golden Ball over Cannavaro is all you need to know.

Oh, and the Italian team coach Lippi……who was promised a long term contract by grace of his victory….just resigned in embarrassment.

And still, what a great three plus weeks of sport. Eat your heart out NASCAR…..


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