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There is nothing like the World Cup

There is nothing like the World Cup to bring out the xenophobe in even the most enlightened of us. The classic always used to be that African teams were “defensively naive,” with additions, famously from Big Ron who was standing in for HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. With a new century comes another classic. Orientals are short. During a Reith Lecture I heard on the radio the other day, one that was occasionally interrupted by the commentary on some match featuring the Belgiums (sic), I learnt that the entire population of the Orient, if stood on one another’s shoulders would not be as tall as Jan Koller. So join in and start slagging the world…

Of course, being English we have a head start on the rest of the world , having had a major scrap with most people at one time or another, and we haven’t even had a home fixture since 1066 (if you don’t count the friendly with the Dutch in 1688). Clearly amongst our European cousins it is an easy task, with WWII taking most of the credit. Other continents are trickier. Don’t worry about how long ago it was though, you can still scream obscenities at the South Africans and call them Boer, or defend our rights to sell opium to the Chinese squad. If you struggle to think of ways to hate the Costa Ricans, fall back on their former colonial power. See how easy it is?

There are always fixtures that, despite having no obvious bearing on our Brave Young Lions’ chances, bring out the mischievous in us. If Japan play the USA, will they kick off earlier than expected and the Septics find themselves 2-0 down as they get off the bus? What of Germany v. Paraguay? Was there a rash of long lost relations reacquainting themselves with each other? The possibilities are vast. If the Japanese play their co-hosts, who will provide the comfort women at half time? Hurry though, because we are running out of time and we don’t want to miss a chance like this as it only comes around once in every four years.

Written by on Sunday, June 16th, 2002

2 comments on this post

  1. Our hotel is filling up with Irish folks who are anticipating today’s match with chants about “Micks beating Spics.” It doesn’t feel threatening to me… yet. But I might end up hiding in my room if the Spanish are victorious this evening.

  2. hi~

    my name is mi hye jeon

    i’m from korea. i like football.

    2002 korea/japan worldcup…

    nice to meet you.


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The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.