Monday, June 26, 2006

WORLD CUP ALMANAC: Day 17

Munich airport and the last leg. Homeward, like twenty other nations already (I am writing this just before the Italy v Australia match) and probably about as exhausted as each of them. The tournament continues of course, heading toward the stages where the history is made, and after being in the middle of it all for over two weeks I will watch the rest like most of the other billions gripped by this thus far thrilling tournament.

To tell you the truth, at this point my battered body is longing for some prolonged sofa-based slouching, some mild abstinence from alcohol (steady on, not total…), the absolute avoidance of pork products of any kind (even my beloved Saturday morning bacon sarnie will be jettisoned for a time), and the welcoming Cork burr of Bill O’Herlihy and the lads (replacing confused attempts at understanding the likes of Gunther Netzer and Rudi Voeller).

The parting shot for the participatory part of my World Cup was the, shall we say, ill-tempered contest last night between Portugal and Holland in Nuremberg. The Frankenstadion, in which the game took place, is right beside the grounds where the Nazis' notorious Nuremberg rallies took place in the 1930s, as unforgettably documented in Leni Riefenstahl’s ‘Triumph of the Will’.

Sitting on the very steps from which Adolf Hitler delivered his addresses, one wonders, firstly, why the unmistakable structure has been allowed to remain, particularly in a country which has reinvented itself in the intervening sixty years to such a degree as to make it seem that the whole tragedy was the plot of some outrageous, Orwellian, dystopic novel from the time.

Perhaps it remains simply from the desire to preserve a genuine historical site. Perhaps as sort of cautionary reminder of man’s capacity for evil. Or perhaps it is to provide a chancer writing a sports blog with the ready made opportunity to pretend to be a serious thinker on Big Things, and not just a bar-room bore with a keyboard.

Either way, you do pause for reflection before your eye wanders over from the emblematic image of the mid-twenieth century fascist nightmare to the shiny, multi-coloured corporate garden fete that FIFA has put on around the stadiums.

There is something Orwellian also about the suffocating modern brandfest that accompanies football nowadays (well, accompanies almost everything really). The carefully selected stadium songs attempting to manufacture the alchemy of what the Germans call ‘Gute Stimmung‘ (basically atmosphere or, perhaps, craic), the existence only of the sponsors products in the area, the advertising, the hedge fund managers high fiving in the row in front of Diego Maradona while real supporters remain locked outside; it all seems at times like a morphine-soaked blanket draped over, and for the supression of, anything resembling wit, originality or uncontrollable local idiosyncrasies.

Still, its only a game. And when you find yourself watching actual World Cup football unfold and cheering along and shouting at the ref exactly like maybe somebody was doing in Montevideo in 1930 during the first tournament, you know that they can’t take that, the game, away.

But then they wouldn’t want to. Oh well, nothing for it. I’ll have a Bud and a bratwurst please.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tom the Tim said...

Welcome home Tom. A good job well done.
I'll put on the sausages ;>)

7:35 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to have you home in one piece T! Guinness will be delighted your back as sales dipped dramatically in your absence!!
Baz

11:44 a.m.  

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