June 29, 2002

The best assessment of this World Cup I've seen so far: from Paul Wilson of the Observer (of whom I know nothing). As it comes to an end how will we remember it. Was it a classic? Was it a dud? Somewhere in the middle? What do you think? Will things be different from now on? Do you have answers to some other questions? Chip in and make the World Cup last one more day before the normal everyday drudgery of life comes rushing back in ;)

posted by Kattullus to soccer at 07:28 PM - 7 comments

While the early departures of many of the pre-cup favorites made for an exciting elimination round, a Germany-Brazil final reeks of same ol', same ol'. The Good:

  • South Korea: Played like a 'European Team' until they faced Germany in the semis. Since the semis they have played like an 'Asian Team': too star struck and often getting caught watching the dribbling skills of opposing players. Also their lack of height caught up with them. It'd have been better had they won the third-place match. There would've been a European, a South American and an Asian team at the podium. Their luck ran out in the last two matches and having a goal called back by a wrong offside call in the third place match against Turkey was almost a poetic ending to their marvelous run.
  • Turkey: I was pretty impressed with their stamina and co-ordination. They ran after the ball and never relented to anyone. Unlike other European teams, Turkey beat everyone they were supposed to beat (China, Costa Rica, Japan) and played better than Senegal in that match. They were the only team to beat both hosts: Japan in Miyagi and South Korea in Daegu.
  • Senegal: They played like Cameroon of old. I hope success doesn't go to their heads1.
  • USA: It's amazing that the team that went so far is made up of mostly 'Americans.' While Llamosa and Mastroeni are naturalized citizens, they play their league matches at MLS and are just good as any "American" Americans out there. Unlike in the years past when USA ran with Green Cards, Passports and obscure immigration laws to recruit the likes of Frenchman David Regis, this year USA did it with people who went to high school with you and dated and went to prom with someone you know. [Not you in particular.]
  • South Korean Fans: They cheered, shouted and sang louder than the Japanese. The rhythm of their cheers reminded me of Premiere League stadia. They turned out to be just as loud, passionate and fanatic as the English and the Spaniards; without the hooliganism and rioting.
The Usual:
  • Germany and Brazil: Some how they always show up to play during the World Cup no matter what happened during the qualifying. With a win in the finals Brazil will become the only team to have won the World Cup in every continent the cup was played in: Europe (Sweden: 1958), South America (Chile: 1962), North America (Mexico: 1970), (USA: 1994); while any European nation has yet to win it outside of Europe.
The Bad:
  • France, Argentina: The French were tired, injured and old(?). The Argentines could not recoup from their usual slow start in the group of death.
  • Portugal: One of my pre-cup favorites and scored the most goals of any team not making into the second round. They blamed everyone else but themselves for their failure.
  • Italy: They scored 5 goals and let in 5. I'd say they were the most over-hyped and disbalanced team. Other than Vieri, no one else showed up to play.
  • Spain: Have the Spaniards won something, anything, since the Armada lost?
  • England: Inability to score goals ended the day for my other pre-cup favorites.
  • Japanese Fans: Their silence at the stands were akin to being at the opera. The solitary teardrops rolling down their cheeks after Japan lost to Turkey in the second round was just as dramatic.
  • Co-hosting: FIFA should do away with co-hosting unless the countries involved are financially strapped. Both South Korea and Japan had the financial and organizational capacity to stage the World Cup by themselves. Nothing of social, cultural, political or diplomatic value was gained from having these two counties host the World Cup. If I had a choice, I'd have picked South Korea to be the sole host. I think co-hosting is appropriate for only financially strapped North African and South American countries.
The Ugly:
  • Officiating: Most blind and incompetent referring that I can remember. It's time to assign the fourth official to check instant replays when he is not checking in substitutes.
  • ESPN: Guys with Irish and Italian accents are not necessarily good at calling 'football.' It's time to send those guys packing back to where they came from: Brooklyn.
More Meaningless Stats:
  • Both groups C (Brazil, Turkey) and D (South Korea, USA) had two teams in the Quarter Finals. Groups G (Mexico, Italy) and H (Japan, Belgium) had none.
  • England (v. Denmark.[1].2RD) and Turkey (v. S. Korea.[2].3PG) scored the most goals (3) in any one match in the elimination rounds.
  • Germany won most (3) 1-0 matches in the elimination rounds.
  • Brazil and Turkey scored most goals: 5 in the elimination rounds. Brazil has one more match to play. South Korea and England scored 4. South Korea also let in 5 goals.
  • In the first round Saudi Arabia drew more crowd (149,866) to their matches than past champions France (148,950), England (133,512), Argentina (115,754), Germany (115,157), Brazil (109,116), Italy (106,844) and Uruguay (102,127).
  • Paraguay drew the least at the stands. 55% of the seats were empty at its match against South Africa (25,186) at Busan; and 40% were no shows at its second round match against Germany (25,176) at Seogwipo. Paraguay drew the least of any matches at this World Cup, 24,000 (43% no-show), at its match against Spain at Jeonju.
  • There were 65,625 (or 1,664 more than the listed capacity) at the stands for the Germany-South Korea semi final match. 369,587 attended the 8 South Korean matches.

posted by tamim at 03:48 AM on June 30, 2002

Jeez, don't expect me to be so loquacious. This World Cup? It started excellently then went downhill fast. Rivaldo disgusted me with his play-acting versus Turkey, South Korea obviously benefitted from "homer" refereeing, Italy deserved to go home for playing such negative football, France were rubbish and England were lucky to go as far as we did. On balance, I'd say fair-to-middling. Italia 1990 still remains my favourite tournament. Except for the final of course. The final starts in half an hour. I've changed tack and am supporting Germany, merely because of Rivaldo.

posted by squealy at 05:27 AM on June 30, 2002

I disagree about co-hosting, tanim (or, should I say, 'Statto', since you are Angus Loughran in disguise): it's likely to be the best way to give Africa the chance it so deserves to host the finals in 2010. Anyway, Germany 2006 will have to go a long way to match this tournament. In part, sadly, because it's back within the thugs' travel budget. I suspect that the Japanese will be deleting 'hooligan' from their dictionaries no sooner than they added it.

posted by etagloh at 08:40 AM on June 30, 2002

I qualified my opposition to co-hosting. I am all for financially strapped countries co-hosting the World Cup. I, however, am not in favor of splitting the costs between two rich countries. Both South Korea and Japan could've organized this World Cup all by themselves. On the other hand, having second-tier economies, like two ASEAN countries, co-host the World Cup would've been a better use for a co-hosted Asian World Cup. No African teams played in 1930 and there were no African quotas between 1938-1966. Lack of independent countries might have something to do with it. Of the nine African countries to have played in the World Cup: Morocco (1970, 1986/2RD, 1994, 1998), Algeria (1982, 1986), Tunisia (1978, 1998, 2002), Egypt (1934, 1990), Senegal (2002/QF), Nigeria (1994/2RD, 1998/2RD, 2002), Cameroon (1982, 1990/QF, 1994, 1998, 2002), Zaire (1974) and South Africa (1998, 2002); Morocco, Nigeria and Cameroon seem to have a legitimate right to be part of any co-hosted African World Cup. Since most of the African countries to qualify for the World Cup are from North of the Equator (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon), I said that I support a co-hosted North African World Cup. A Cameroon-Nigeria (and Senegal) World Cup or a Morocco-Algeria-Tunisia (and Senegal) World Cup is logistically possible. Pairing South Africa with any of those countries will create a host of logistical problems. South Africa has the financial capacity and the political stability to host a World Cup all by itself. I am all for co-hosting in Central and South America. If co-hosting was an option in 1986, Columbia would not have to withdraw outright from the hosting duties in 1983.

posted by tamim at 01:03 PM on June 30, 2002

So... I don't see what the negatives of co-hosting were, and I find it really hard that anyone who wasn't on the ground in the respective countries can proclaim from afar that there were no cultural benefits. It certainly sounds like (if nothing else) lots of people were forced to wrestle with issues of Korean-Japanese history that go back some way.

posted by tieguy at 11:42 PM on June 30, 2002

Damn, tamim. You should be the stats/history guru for SpoFi. Anytime there's a stats or history deadlock, you're the tiebreaker. Rock on! And, please, everyone else, read tamim's comments carefully before attacking them. There's a lot of sputter here that's just repeating what he said, but less elegantly. ;-) Well, on to the Premier League! Can't wait until yahoo gets its fantasy league started again. tamim, I'm expecting you to be in there when I set up the SpoFi pool.

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:02 PM on July 01, 2002

I thought it was good world cup all in all. Like everyone I Got very excited about the shocks early on - but that did leave a lack of top clashes in the later rounds. Good final though - best since '86. Re. Co-hosting. I don't see the problem, but then I wasn't over there spending thousands on travel.

posted by shorster at 05:56 AM on July 03, 2002

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