Barney on that opening ceremony

Herewith the comments of Barney Ronay, when asked about the World Cup opening ceremony – a few lines that made me laugh on the Guardian football podcast this morning:

These things are always atrocious, aren’t they? They’re a complete waste of time.
They featured the largest tarpaulin I’ve ever seen; the entire pitch covered in this thing that’s just going to be rolled up and thrown away. And of course, the wretched Pitbull. He was predictably terrible and pointless. Which was a bit of a shame because I quite liked the other bits, the walking trees and things, because Brazil’s quite a weird country and that was quite weird.


And here, because I know you want my considered opinions on those three key refereeing decisions in the game that followed, are my considered opinions on those three key refereeing decisions in the game that followed:

  1. Neymar’s elbow: Deliberate (check how he looked at Modric before they clashed). An “orange card”: worse than yellow, could have easily been red. Referee bottled it.
  2. The Brazil penalty: If that was a penalty, everything else over the next month is also going to be a penalty. Player trips over tuft of grass on dodgy Manaus pitch: penalty. Captains shake hands before the game: penalty. I just tapped the space bar: penalty. Pathetic. Decision looked as dodgy as a Nigerian own-goal.
  3. The disallowed Croatian goal. Fair enough, I thought. The striker had his arm over the keeper’s shoulder as they jumped for the ball. It was a foul.

So, some flair, some controversy, some goals and a completely crap opening ceremony. Given that there won’t be any more opening ceremonies, I think we could be in for a cracker of a World Cup.

Beyond Pathetic

Slightly belatedly, but still amusing in the extreme is this article: The Worst Ever Opening Ceremonies. As they state:

The goal is to put on a show that wows the world and doesn’t embarrass the host nation.
But that doesn’t always happen.

Please enjoy then:

  1. The 1988 Seoul Olympics, when they incinerated the doves of peace.
  2. The Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, when a Canadian sporting legend was grounded.
  3. The infamous World Cup in 1994, when Diana Ross missed a penalty, despite having the world’s biggest goal to aim at.
  4. The lesser known 1991 World Student Games in er… Sheffield, where Helen Sharman, the UK’s first astronaut, fell over and dropped the torch, extinguishing the flame.

Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any readily available footage of that last one, which unlike London 2012’s efforts, really was beyond pathetic.

One World, One Dream

Yesterday, I watched the Olympic Games opening ceremony along with 2,999,999,999 others. Not all in my lounge, obviously; that would have been a squash and a squeeze.
Anyway, it was fairly impressive stuff. Lots of flashy lights, a myriad of people running about in unison, a few people in weird costumes, some people attached to wires which made it look a bit like they were flying if you ignored the wires and so on. Oh, and some fireworks.


So obviously very different from every other opening ceremony for a big sporting event. Right.

What was different about Beijing 2008’s opening night was the fact that it cost (according to the SABC’s coverage, anyway) about $75m (US) to stage. Which made me wonder how exactly it adhered to the One World, One Dream motto of this particular Olympiad. Kevin Mitchell sums it up nicely:

This opening of the 29th Olympic Games was an orchestrated marriage of superstition and military precision on a scale only a one-party state could deliver with such confidence. It was a show not so much riveting because of its artistic merit (which was considerable) but the self-conscious reaching for grandeur that has become the Olympic movement’s parodic symbol of excess.

And the official Beijing 2008 site states:

“One World One Dream” fully reflects the essence and the universal values of the Olympic spirit – Unity, Friendship, Progress, Harmony, Participation and Dream. It expresses the common wishes of people all over the world, inspired by the Olympic ideals, to strive for a bright future of Mankind.

While I’m all for the Olympics and their ideals – though I recognise that they are very rarely seen outside the couple of weeks of competition every four years – I would imagine that a large chunk of the world’s population would probably have different universal values. Like Food, Shelter, Housing and Safety, for example. Ironically, I would also guess that most of this group were the ones who weren’t able to watch yesterday.
This “Other World” doesn’t fit for the Beijing Olympics though; it’s ugly and awkward to deal with while they’re splashing out millions on fancy fireworks and Sarah Brightman. And so, like so much else, it is being swept under the carpet and conveniently ignored for the next two weeks.