Rugby is my game, in case you haven’t noticed. Apparently a few people follow a different football game, played with an oddly round ball. And it is, truly, a beautiful game, in large part because of its utter simplicity. A space, a ball, your feet and head. They’re gathered in Brazil right now, for the Second Best World Cup.
It’s great that we’re actually into the sporting side of things, because the lead up was all about what an omnishambles the whole festival had become. A bruising, brilliant, bursting mardi gras of a shambles. It’s Brazil, after all, and the world media filed story after story of gasp shock horror outrage at the disorganisation.
Which kind of made a nice change, maybe, from the stories of gasp shock horror outrage at the uber-organisation of the Beijing Olympics.
It’s part of what I love about these big sporting extravaganzas. They’re supposedly engineered to the last professional inch, but in practice they can’t escape from revealing deep cultural and political and economic truths about the hosts. They are, in fact, moments of exquisite attention to those truths, if you care to look rather than look away.
Which is why it’s worth remembering affectionately our own 2011 World Cup.
Rather than the big set pieces, the real memories are of how the audience took the stage, and made it our tournament. Party at our place, everybody welcome.
Doesn’t get much better than that.
PS If you want to understand the ups and downs and ins and outs of the Cup, you can’t do worse than start with the 538 team’s analysis and charts.
PPS Go Oranje!