World Cup 1, Avoiding It, 1

I felt really sorry for the teenager on the checkout at Sainsbury’s by the time we’d trekked its near deserted isles yesterday afternoon. He was missing the first England game. He’d missed the first goal. And when my wife asked him if there’d been another goal, the very thought that he might have missed that too – well, you can imagine the black look on his face.

Actually I was surprised Lancaster was as it busy as it was yesterday. There were still people shopping, including blokes, some of them with their partners with a look that said either “I prefer cricket” or “I either came out and helped with the shopping or it was the divorce courts”. Since, as I am trying to avoid the World Cup (this of course is a pretty difficult task), it was interesting to get the chance to study both expressions (there would be plenty of opportunity to study the sheer joy on the faces of football fans on the national and regional news later, seemingly ad infinitum, the regional news reporting England’s victory, by dint of the reason that north west football team members are in the squad. This is is apparently bigger news than the tragedy of another 15-year-old being killed on our streets).

World Cup fever was at fever pitch yesterday: our cab driver told us that of the 90 taxis in the company, some 75 were parked up at kick off. It’s a small reflection of the world phenomenon football has become. TIME Magazine has a pretty exhaustive feature on the subject this week, and it makes for fascinating reading.

So why don’t I just embrace it? What’s the problem? I’m a bloke. It’s football. That’s the only demographic a marketing company needs to sell me everything. From wide screen TVs, lager, deodrant and… and, well, the World Cup.

And I guess that when it comes down to it, that’s what irks me. That this whole thing has been taken over, hyped to death, in the same way that Christmas begins in September. Yes, it’s a minority view, but surely no true footie fan needed to be told the World Cup was happening? It happens every four years (although it does seem that all these football events are merging into one, to the extent that we couldn’t even remember who won last time round this morning. Was it Greece (no, they won the European cup in 2004. Do keep up!) or Germany? (no, 1990) Or France? (1998). (Later: it was Brazil, for the fifth time)

Morten Morland - World Cup CartoonI think the truth of all this is, I’m useless at statistics (a sports necessity, surely), I’m useless at football (played once for the class team at school, never asked again), and I’m simply suspicious when all these politicians start wrapping themselves up in any flag (there was an ace cartoon By Morten Morland in The Times about this yesterday which pretty much summed up my feelings.

I want fans to enjoy the world cup; just don’t be surprised when I don’t join in (other than checking the score, wondering just how certain teams actually qualified over Turkey, Greece and others…)

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