Day 77 – 10 years on

Well lookie here now. It’s 11th June 2020.

5 years on from 11th June 2015. (But that’s not important right now.)

10 years on from 11th June 2010. And that was the first day of the Football World Cup in South Africa. Remember those halcyon days?

Remember that halcyon day? We went to the Waterfront and watched Bafana v Mexico in Joburg:

You know… the one with that goal:

 

…before heading to the stadium to watch Uruguay and France:

…and the hyperactive Uruguayan marking on the French dangerman.

On the way back to the car after the game, I distinctly remember us chatting about how dull the game had been and how in just a decade, we’d all be trapped inside in the midst of a global pandemic.

Weird how these things pan out, isn’t it?

 

Here are my images from that day.

And here is a warning that I think there might be a few more World Cup posts on here over the next month. Because present day reality sucks.

 

To cheat or not to cheat?

That is the question.
And it’s actually tougher to answer than you might think.

Luis Suárez is, once again, the centre of attention for his last minute antics in a big football match. Luis rose to international prominence with his goalline handball at Soccer City which effectively knocked Ghana out of the 2010 World Cup. And, though I hate to say it now, I defended him over that (although it was mainly just to pass contrary comment on the stupid people on social media).
Forr me, that handball was an instinctive thing – he was on the line, the ball flew at him, instant self-preservation and desperation set in. Four years of preparation, of blood, sweat, tears and hard work came down to that split second:

I would have stopped that shot with my hand if I’d have been on the line that night. So would David Beckham, so would Lionel Messi, neither would Robert Green.

He might have been a thoroughly despicable, cheating, nasty piece of work, but I maintain that that infamous handball was involuntary.

But then… the biting, the diving, the racism, the diving, the biting and the diving since then?
Less involuntary. More considered. Calculated. Controlled.

Deliberate.

Ugh.

The 90th minute dive which won the penalty which assisted Barcelona through at the Nou Camp was disgraceful. It’s difficult not to look at any incident involving Luis Suárez without cheat-tinted spectacles, but even setting aside any dislike for him and his team of UEFA’s darlings, Wednesday evening may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. (Suárez’ collar bone did survive though, despite the obvious agony as he fell to the floor having not been karate chopped across the neck.)

Anyway, the main reason for this post is to share one of the excellent newspaper articles and soundbites that this has generated. Silver linings – sometimes you’ve just got to try and find them.

Step forward, then Ewan Murray in the Guardian:

Once again the cottage industry that is the lauding of all things La Liga, and Barcelona in particular, belies what appear to be dark arts. The Barça brand matters more than what should always be established codes of football conduct. Pundits fawn, laughably in respect of former footballers who would rightly be incandescent had they suffered at the hands of Barça’s routinely wobbly forwards.

If the awarding of Barcelona’s first penalty of the night was dubious, Thomas Meunier committing the apparently fatal sin of falling over with Neymar in close proximity, the hosts’ second, which fuelled the fairytale, represented a blatant act of cheating.

Ewan pulls no punches, voicing opinions which many of us have been harbouring for some time now.

If you watch back through the dying stages, Barça’s players are throwing themselves to the floor with such desperation it is comical. The not-so- subtle message, as witnessed by millions including impressionable young footballers? When in doubt, when things get seriously tough, keep the conning of officials at the forefront of your mind. The ruse is even more effective when a team are at home, in such an intense atmosphere as the Camp Nou.

Preach, Ewan! Preach!

Please, can the thing that comes of this be the fast forwarding of video-assistants for the referees. The pathetic extra official on the goal line experiment has had virtually zero positive effect and needs to be scrapped in favour of a rugby-style TMO. Of course, if this were the case, Suárez would be off (having been booked for diving earlier in the game) and Barca would be out. Maybe that sort of thing is why technology hasn’t been introduced. Convenient human error being a great way to ensure your pet team continue to prevail.

But I’m sounding bitter and cynical now (albeit with good reason).

Suárez will go on Suárezing for just as long as he is allowed to do so.
The FA used post-match video evidence to look back at incidents in the ManU v Bournemouth game and Tyrone Mings and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were rightly handed bans for breaking the rules.

What sanction then for Luis and Barca? (spoiler: it’s none)

Now [FIFA] need to allow the reviewing of video evidence after the game for players diving and then suspend them.
Either that or maybe make some more big bucks by researching, developing and marketing whatever it is that allows players like Pedro and Javier Mascherano to miraculously recover and get on with the game 5 seconds after what appears to be a career-threatening injury.

Hmm. It’s (still) time to drag football’s governing body, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.

Old Skool

I have been reliving the past a bit over the last day or two. These wholly unconnected events happened entirely by chance, but I felt them worth documenting because it brought back some decent memories and made me think about how my life has changed since those memories were made.

It started with a kiss an earworm: The 2002 track Stay Positive by The Streets:

I ain’t helping you climb the ladder
I’m busy climbing mine.
That’s how it’s been since the dawn of time.

that crept up on me one morning in the kitchen, like a beagle hoping for some cheese. I have no idea where it came from (the earworm, I’m all too aware of the beagle’s history), but it selected the soundtrack for the journey to and from work yesterday.

And the memories came flooding back. This was one of the albums that I used to listen to (on my minidisc player, nogal!) on the journeys from Oxford down to London to see my girlfriend (the same one what is now, happily, the long-suffering Mrs 6000). And suddenly, I was there again: back on the Oxford Tube on the M40 – weridly, very specifically at the Lewknor turn off.

At that time, I was living in Headington in Oxford with two really dodgynice… nice, but dodgy scientists. It was a bit of a lads’ house – we had standards, but if I’m completely honest, they did vary in height depending on how lazy we were feeling.
A typical evening in would be a microwave dinner, some red wine and several (or more) games of the latest FIFA release (probably 03). That is, of course, apart from Friday evenings. Friday evenings were given over to Dirty Sanchez on MTV. Now, if you haven’t heard of Dirty Sanchez, I’d advise you to carefully consider your options before looking it up. This was a UK series which took the nastiest and most dangerous bits of Jackass, and somehow made them worse. It was puerile at best, and downright offensively vulgar for the other 99% of the time. Here’s the wiki page, if you really want a starting point.

Last night, with Mrs 6000 unwell in bed, I was left to entertain myself (careful now). Ironically, it was actually as I was looking for my FIFA (15) game in the DVD drawer that I saw the 2005 box set of Series 3 of Dirty Sanchez. My fingers were pretty tired (careful now), and I was already dreading the injury news ahead of Fleetwood Town’s FA Cup first round replay with Hereford United, so the box set seemed like a good idea.
As I put it on, I was in two minds. Would I still find it funny, or had I outgrown it?
Well – maybe my results were swayed because I was consciously being analytical, but probably somewhere between the two. Not much of it made me laugh, but at the same time, I did find myself entertained. And at first, that was a bit worrying. But still quite fun – it seems that maybe I am still hanging on to a bit of my youth, and that’s no bad thing.

And then there was this morning. After an early morning trip into town to pick up some new kit (more of that to follow in due course), I found myself heading to work, breakfastless. And yes, there’s the office park canteen, but – guess what – it’s very much an office park canteen. So I made a last minute stop at the local McDonald’s drive-“thru”, and picked up the Sausage and Egg McMuffin meal that was standard for early mornings opposite the Regent Street campus of the University of Westminster (it’s still there), back in the day. It was my first one in SA, and I’ve been here nearly 12 years.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it tasted pretty much the same as it did back in the late 90’s. And that – much like musicians continuing to produce the same sort of music that made them popular – is no bad thing. It’s not going to win any Michelin stars, but it did stop me being hungry for a few hours. Job done.

The thing is, while I enjoyed being transported back to those halcyon, carefree days with their lack of responsibility and restrictions, I don’t really miss them. Sure, they were fun, but I didn’t realise back then how unfulfilling they were. That’s not my fault – things change as you get older: your needs are different, your goals aren’t the same, you need more stimulation from some things (carful now), less from others.

Put it this way, things may not be perfect right now, but me now would rather be me now than me then, if you see what I mean.

So I guess you could call that progress.

Fikile – u ok hon?

Here’s a statement by our erstwhile Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula over the weekend:

fm statement

and here’s a letter which has popped into the public domain this morning:

fifa letter

Of course, even though the $10 million payment was made to Jack Warner, it wasn’t a bribe, in the same way that that body of water at Nkandla isn’t meant for any purpose other than fighting fires.

And if it was a bribe, why would they have made that huge PR effort and the big song and dance about such a generous donation to such a worthy cause?

Nah, this totally seems legit.

Comedy moments

Today in politics:

Firstly, Sports Minister Fikile “Fickle” Mbalula (see blog passim) reacted to the FIFAgate scandal and the allegation that the SA Government had paid a $10m bribe to bring the 2010 World Cup to South Africa, with this gem:

David Smith on Twitter Mbalula As a nation we will be the first to endorse the fight against corruption wherever it is found. Media is casting aspersions. - Google Chrome 2015-05-28 014812 PM.bmp

Yep. No corruption in this nation. Absolutely not. None.
Here are some other ridiculous things he said, helpfully illustrated by high class rag The Times.

Glad we’ve got that sorted.

Then, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko told us that the R250m upgrades to the President’s residence in KZN were necessary for security purposes and therefore, JZ doesn’t have to pay for them.

CGFpkGnUMAAOBOF

You might think that this is fair enough, but let’s just see how much they had to stretch to get some of the less obvious “security” upgrades into the “security upgrade” bracket:

nkand

And good job too, because those chickens could obviously pose a definite danger to Number 1. And in the event of an emergency, where else are you going to be able to assemble if not in an amphitheatre?

It does rather make you think that they’re taking the piss now. I mean, the signs that they’ve been taking the piss have been there for a while, but we definitely do seem to have crossed yet another line of pisstakery with today’s events.

Quoth Tom Eaton (in a post/column written (I think) ahead of the FIFA or Nkandla developments mentioned above):

They know we’re watching, but they don’t care. We’re just scenery to them now, a fleeting impression to be remembered one day when they’re lying on their private beach, laughing about the old days when they were making their pile.

Yes.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get off home to build an animal enclosure next to the firepool to stop the beagle crapping in my amphitheatre.