Archive for hair

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.


Best Team, Worst Hair?

Michael Bolton proudly displays his new national colours

Argentina have cast the fear of the sublime into to the hearts of all potential opponents at this year’s World Cup. Their demolition by six goals to nil of the stingiest defence in Europe should be awesome for its scoreline alone. Let’s not forget that Serbia and Montenegro finished ahead of this team’s other free-flowing scorers, Spain, in their qualification group. However, above and beyond the six goals was the unabashed panache with which Argentina controlled the tempo of the game, and the quality of the substitutes on hand. With Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez Argentina have surely the two premier forwards of the decade to come. Pablo Aimar is no donkey either, and it is only the outrageous skill and performances of Barcelona discard and tournament novice Juan Roman Riquelme that ensure that no one bats and eyelid when the more seasoned World Cup campaigner is consigned to the bench.

However, the most remarkable side to Argentina’s achievements is surely the fact that they have managed to play the tournament’s most delightful football while sporting some of the tournament’s most desastrous hair. Michael Bolton apparently fed up with the lack of appreciation of his music and image, has emigrated to a country that allowed him to regrow his famous locks of hay. It would also seem that despite a lack of pace and the occasional act of defensive incompetency, he’s a decent footballer to boot. A change of name to something with a more local flavour, and presto, you have one-paced but reasonably competent as long as his team have the ball defender Fabricio Collocini.

cambiasso looks foolish

Is this the worst hair in all of football?
Collocini is bad, the stringy mullet on ox-man Carlos Tevez is arguably little better, though to be fair Tevez’s extremely questionable do does distract attention from the other members of the squad veering down the ignominious road to mulletdom. And Tevez and Collocini both have to shrug their shoulders and admit that the title of worst haircut of any footballer in the world ever belongs to colleague Esteban Cambiasso. I have seen earlier photos of Mr Cambiasso, and it is true that once upon a time he was a very handsome individual. Unfortunately for Mr Cambiasso the makeweight in the Faustian deal that saw him receive a not inconsiderable talent for the game of football was his hair and dignity. Mr Cambiasso is suffering from a receding hairline, perhaps a little excessive for a man of his modest years, but not entirely outside the realm of genetic possibility. This in and of itself, while unfortunate is no crime. What is criminal is Mr Cambiasso’s devotion to what remains of his once luscious locks. Mr Cambiasso is almost entirely bald on the top his head, but Mephistopheles has seen fit to leave him with a little Tintin tuft at the front of his hear, where the forehead ordinarily meets the hairline. Cambiasso combs this tuft backwards, in essence producing an array of tendrils running perpendicular to Bobby Moore’s famous comb over. However, unlike Mr Moore, Mr Cambiasso really does not have much material to work with. Morever, his tendrils comecambiasso celebrates loose and during the course of the average match, taking on a sweat-drenched life of their own. The man looks like he is cultivating a Medusa in miniature on the frontal region of his cranium. Please, Mr Cambiasso, put us all out of our misery and shave everything on top of your beautiful pate and let our attention be drawn my the majesty of your football, not the mess on top your head.

Esteban celebrates that goal. But look at that hair.