This brief hiatus before the start of the new season does give us time to reflect, however. As we look back on the month just gone, what have we learned from the 2010 World Cup?
1. FIFA is still a joke
Fifa should be commended for successfully staging the World Cup in a place which may well stand to benefit socially and financially from the impact of the tournament for years to come. The world was made aware of the deep-rooted problems of South Africa and the nation, in fact the whole continent, was united as one. Only time will tell whether the World Cup legacy has a lasting benefit.
But FIFA doesn’t do much for the game itself. FIFA is partly to blame for England’s exit (probably no bad thing, mind) after refusing to accept the need for TV replays until too late. It must also change the rule on erroneous bookings, like Kaka’s against Ivory Coast, which was a shameful injustice – and it needs to do something to stop the World Cup becoming a commercial circus. Ejecting those girls from the stadium for promoting a non-sponsored beer make even though their orange mini-skirts were not branded was a chronic example of corporate greed and elitism, and FIFA’s insistence on Nelson Mandela attending the final was yet another PR gaffe. FIFA needs to put the game first not the fucking sponsors and especially not FIFA. It’s the World Cup, not the fucking FIFA World Cup.
2. What a Vuvuzela is
The Argentinians had the tickertape, the Mexicans had the wave, the South Africans had the most annoying instrument known to man drowning out the atmosphere of the grounds. You might say when in Rome, but when in Rome you hear supporters chanting national songs and bringing a flavour of their homeland into your living room, when in Cape Town you force viewers to change the frequency on their TV sets.
3. The Dutch are dirty
No longer can we think of the Dutch as purveyors of the beautiful game, exponents of Total Football. That honour is now Spain’s and hopefully it will serve as a blueprint for future generations to follow. Holland, on the other hand, besmirched the good name of their predecessors by becoming international football’s equivalent of Stoke City, with the exception of Wesley Sneijder. Where once there was Johan Cruyff, Ruud Gullit or Marco Van Basten now there is Arjen Robben, Nigel De Jong and Mark van Bommel. The Dutch Masters are now just Masters of the Dark Arts.
4. Fabio Capello is not the Second Coming
Hopefully now England will clear the decks and start afresh with a new generation of youngsters. The ‘Golden Generation’ must be sent out to pasture and the new guard given space to breathe. The long game has worked for the Germans, it’s the only hope for the Three Lions, and yet can you see it happening? Fabio Capello is no spring chicken and he wants short-term success. If the World Cup has taught us anything is that Don Fabio will do exactly whatever he wants to do and not necessarily what is best for England. Which is one of many reasons why international sides should never ever be coached by foreigners.
One of the joys of the World Cup is watching the partying in the streets, the footballing, beer-swilling fun-fest, the semi-naked ladies in the crowd. There was none of that at this World Cup because everyone was freezing their nuts off. Even the substitutes’ bench was populated by players covered in blankets. It was like watching a day out for with Help The Aged.
6. Germans play sexy football
Far from being the rugged, ruthless efficient side of yesteryear, Germany played an expansive, free-flowing brand of football which only came unstuck when they were simply outclassed by the Spaniards. More importantly they did it with five players who were in the Under-21s last year.
7. Ball tampering is not confined to cricket
The Jabulani football was a disgrace, reducing the world’s finest footballers to hackers from Hackney Marshes. The fact that only four direct free-kicks were scored all tournament was a classic example of FIFA’s trying to fix something that ain’t broke. Don’t touch the ball, guys. Balls are sacred.
8. Everybody loves Diego
Pilloried in the UK press for the Hand of God, hammered at home for almost failing to get Argentina to the World Cup in the first place, Maradona re-invented himself as everyone’s favourite coach with his amusing press conferences, his animated touchline antics and his oversized suits.
9. Marupials rule
With a 7 and 0 prediction record Paul The Octopus is not a tipster to be taken lightly – or sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper.
10. The Dutch are dirty but generous
Maybe it was a bet she knew she would never have to honour, but Bobbi Eden must be breathing a sigh of relief rather than endless oral relief to the 23,000 Twitter followers she said she would reward with free blow jobs if Holland won the World Cup. Either way, hats off to Bobbi for demonstrating to her countrymen the true definition of Fair Play.