World Cup Gripes, Vol. 1

The World Cup has come to a close, Italy have deservedly taken home the trophy for the next four years and as a nation Germany have put on a sparkling show that will set the hosting benchmark for tournaments to come. So what better way to celebrate the conclusion of the grandest festival of the world’s sport than with a list of complaints?

First, though not necessarily foremost, the local commentary. I was forced to watch the 1998 World Cup in the United States, and the flagrant ignorance of the basic rules and terminology of the game evinced by the ABC team has become the touchstone of incompetence in football commentary. It is with this in mind that I declare that unless American punditry has improved exponentially (or the ABC/ESPN crew have all been shot and replaced with speaking androids or Alan Shearer), Japan will never be home to the worst in football commentary. Never, never. However they are pretty uninspiring. The in-game commentary is done by people who seem to have a fair notion of the rules of association football, but clearly lack glasses with prescriptions strong enough to enable them to discern what is actually happening on the field of play. In the final, French substitute Alou Diarra was booked for raising his arm dangerously high in an aerial challenge. The commentators’ first question was ‘Was that Makelele?” Now, given that Alou Diarra is the physical clone of the man he replaced, Patrick Viera, who stands an awkward six foot three, and that Claude Makele is a significantly more compact three foot six, or thereabouts, one would expect anyone with any knowledge of football at this level to tell them apart on sight.

Beyond that, every time the ball went into touch, commentators never seemed sure what was going to happen next. “Oh, it’s a corner!” exclaimed one man in disbelief even though Stevie Wonder himself could have told you that goalkeeper had clearly pushed the ball past the far post. “It would seem that the referee has blown for a foul!” would be declared, with no touch of irony, in moments such as Deco’s attempt to relieve John Heitinga of his leg below the knee.

tonii!Most odious of all was bleach blond grandad chav expat Tony(in the picture to the left), or Tonii as his name reads when converted into the script that Japanese use for all things foreign (or is that just for foreign things of poor taste?). Tony must be well into his fifties and wears enormous plastic-rimmed glasses that must have been nicked from some poor child’s Halloween costume. His hair is has been chemically coaxed a shade of eye-aching yellow that suggests some sort of laboratory accident, rather than peroxide is to blame. If the power were to fail in the studio, doubtless a solar panel could be used to harness the radiation emanating from Tonii’s skull and convert it into electrical energy.

Tonii’s most enlightening comments are along the lines of “The English really enjoy their soccer” and, during halftime of the final, “Ribery is really fast, isn’t he.” To which the rejoinder, from an equally fatuous though better groomed member of the commentary team, was “Wow, yes, he is very fast.”

It makes me long for the vibrant and insightful analysis of the BBC’s Wrighty, Brighty, and, of course, Al.

Enough gripes for one post. More to follow in due course.


1 Comment »

  1. Raging Bull Said:

    I think American commentary and media coverage improved this time around but the media not covering the match still considers it to be an also-ran sport. Some of the ex-players showed that they had knowledge of the game but were often uninsightful and uninspiring. Wynalda was better than local fave Marcello Balboa who made just as many dumb comments as insightful ones.

    JP Dellacamera gets smarter as time goes on but still used ill-advised comparisons to sell the game to American audiences that like other sports better.

    Julie Fowdy was not always great as a commentator but is well-spoken and unlike some other femmes was selected for her brains as much as her looks.

    John Harkes was usually insightful but kinda boring.

    I don’t think anyone’s sad that Seamus Malin was nowhere to be seen.

    I wish they would have used Alan Hopkins more since he gets the game well and has some passion for it.

    I prefer it when they bring in the English and the Scots like Tommy Smyth. Just leave Georgio Continguglia out of it unless he’s paired with Wynalda who likes him so much. 🙂

    Too bad Andres Cantor has better things to do than announce in English. Not his best language but he’s way more insightful than the U.S. commentators.

    Overall, I was refreshed to see that the Denver Post ran plenty of wire stories and had some local reporters there with coverage that was better than it’s been. Now if we can get the sports commentators to get off their high horse.

  2. Raging Bull Said:

    Check out this video based on the Zidane incident.

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