Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup Politics

Football, like all sports, is the ultimate in political chivalry: it's all in good fun, let's be good sportsmen, everybody says, but winning is everything. Just remember the 1998 World Cup game when Iran beat the USA...Nobody, not even good ol' home grown farmland Americans could overlook the fact that losing on the football pitch hurt just as bad as at the diplomatic table -- maybe even worse because your voting citizenry actually watch the whole sad event unfold.

So it goes with yet another World Cup -- this time in Germany where, I'm sad to report, the Germans (who I once supported long long ago when they were West Germans and not the shadow sixth member of the UN Security Council headed by an overgrown freckled wart) have already won a match against Costa Rica -- thanks to their methodical playing which makes you want to open up a football handbook and check off one by one the tactics they employ. England's game today was also a no-glow event where Paraguay scored an own goal in the 5th minute and England spent the rest of the game making sure they held onto that 1-0 lead.

Yes, sportmanship is that sweet term politicians use to explain away a pathetic loss to a nation they feel is beneath them. But it's also the epitome of humanity where an embattled and beaten football player extends a hand of help to a fallen member of the opposing team. Too bad politicians aren't sportsmen, too.

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