Is it cos I is French?

November 19, 2009

A footballer cheats in a match which doesn’t involve anyone British but it’s front-page phone-in fodder, the twitterverse goes crazee and the BBC sport website runs a live debate the following day. Hello?

Bien sur Terry Henry [sic] was wrong, of course he shouldn’t have have handled the ball, and perhaps he should even have made his name for life by ruling out the goal himself (as argued by Richard Williams in The Guardian), but this is football we are talking about. Henry may well have permanently damaged his reputation in this country, but, hey, Michael Owen has managed well enough without having Argentina at the top of his holiday wish-list since 2002. In truth, Ireland were lucky not to conceed a penalty moments before, were more likely to run out of steam in the last fifteen minutes, and were, by all accounts, dreadful in the first leg.

The real shame is that France will bring little to the World Cup. The Irish, like much of the world, get football, love football, have a passion for the game, and would have made their contribution to the finals – both in South Africa and their own country. Despite creating the tournament in the first place, the French have never truly been a footballing nation, and even treated success in their own tournament in 1998 with predictable nonchalence until the final rounds. That is a reason to hope they don’t prosper next Summer.
Barely noticeable amongst the hullabaloo in Paris was the fact that, thanks to events in Montevideo, as in 2002 all seven previous winners will be amongst those battling for glory at the finals. Other than Spain, it’s hard to see a new name on the trophy, but with the event staged in Africa for the first time, some surprises must be expected on the way – home continent advantage will not favour any of the fancied teams.

As previously explained, it’ll be due to a different famous footballing arm that I’ll be following Uruguay, currently the rank outsider of the previous winners. Of course I’ll also be screaming along to the English games, no doubt suitably over-excited by a country whipped up into a frenzy by commercial necessity (expect World Cup products to land in the shops soon after Christmas is over), and a media which has long-forgotten the misdeeds of Monsieur Henry.