Countdown To The One …………. !
It’s the one quadrennial event that when it happens at least one third of the world’s population will be watching the World Cup once it begins in South Africa this upcoming June. This will be the biggest sporting event on the African continent other than the ICC 20/20 Competition and the Rugby World Cup.
From the 11th June to 11th July the 32 nations that’ve qualified including the host nation of South Africa will begin their month long quest to become world soccer champions. And with the defending champions Italy will be looking to successfully defend their crown , won in 2006 , in Germany . The infamy of the tournament will be forever remembered for the unceremonious ending to the international career of French soccer star Zinedine Zidane . Though provoked into that infamous head butting incident seen around the world , that one event has a lingering and lasting impression upon the world of international soccer.
The infamous head butt during the 2006 World Cup final match between France and Italy . France’s Zindedine Zidane having head butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi was sent off by the referee during the game. The incident hampered France’s chances of winning the game. But it also tarnished not only the reputation of Zindeine Zidaine but also the game of soccer and the unsportsmanlike conduct of Italy and in particular of Materazzi. We would later fined out that the player had used a racial epithet directly aimed at the French player to incite his anger.
It is hopes that the 2010 event will be played with the customary sportsmanlike conduct we’ve normally seen and can attribute at the international level. And one would also hope to see the fans reciprocate likewise with their behavior ! With the eyes of the world watching and countless millions more listening via the airwaves. A repeat of the events witnessed in that infamous final can ill afford to repeated in South Africa. And as passionate as we expect the fans to be in support of their national side. We do expect the players themselves to conduct themselves with a great deal of decorum but also to have a great deal of respect for the game and that of the host nation.
Other than the Summer Olympics , the World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the planet in terms of the mass participation, viewership on a global scale. Never-mind the billions of dollars that brings to the host country in terms of the economic impact. But you also have the financial benefits brought to the game as well as that of FIFA , as the game’s international governing body. And for the South African Government led by President Jacob Zuma this further gives his country the recognition that the country so richly deserves after the repressive regime of apartheid that in part was suborned by United States purely from an economical standpoint . The main instigator for bringing the World Cup to the country other than that of the country’s domestic soccer federation , was that of the country’s former President Nelson Mandela . Most definitely the country’s greatest statesman by far ! In working conjunction with the South African Soccer Federation the bid was lodged with FIFA to bring soccer’s showcase international event to the African continent for the very first time. FIFA President Joseph S (Sepp) Blatter had longed maintained that it would be his wish to see the World Cup staged on the African continent. But only after the tide of apartheid had been shaken off in not only South Africa but also in that of the neighboring country of Zimbabwe .
Now that it has become a reality the only thing left is for the opening ceremony to take place then it all becomes a reality. The 32 competing teams will be placed into eight groups of four , with each division having two seeded teams. And that initial first round will be one round robin elimination within the division. From there the top two teams within each division will progress forward to the second stage of the competition.
The initial groupings are as listed below.
The prohibitive favorites coming into the event will no doubt be Brazil as they are a five time FIFA World Cup champions . Second on the list is Italy with four triumphs looking to equal the feat of the South American country Brazil for their part will be looking to raise the trophy for a sixth time. As to the other teams thought to be in with a chance. As to the other teams thought to be in with a chance. Well you can merely look down FIFA’s rankings and presumably take your pick . But at the same time don’t underestimate one or two of the teams that most already would seem to have written off as not having a chance to at least surprise one of the more dominant nations. We’ve seen this happen repeatedly in previous tournaments and it will no doubt continue to happen in the future.
My own feelings as it regards my home country of England . With the loss of David Beckham and the uncertainty as it surrounds the Manchester United & England international striker, Wayne Rooney due to injuries. Their chances of at least making it to the quarter or semi-finals has greatly diminished , most definitely with the loss of Beckham ! The former England captain will not be a member of the team. The uncertainty as to whether or not Rooney will be match fit let alone a member of the England squad remains up in the air and something of a dilemma as it concerns national coach Fabio Capello .
As it is, Capello is under a great deal of pressure from the fans and press alike as to whom should be making the trip to South Africa, as part of the national squad. And it certainly won’t come as a surprise to anyone if there are one two shocks when the final names are announced. And with there being a June 1st deadline before he has to submit the names of his squad to the FA and FIFA. For Capello these are some onerous and thought provoking times. If he leaves off a fan favorite then there’s the thought he is snubbing that player for someone who the fans and pundits may not see as being worthy of the choice. However, if he takes an aging star merely as a need then he’s still going to be chastised one way or another. This job was never meant to be easy but at the same time , nor is winning the World Cup. And that’s something that the country hasn’t done since 1966 when the event was held in Britain and the finals played at Wembley Stadium . On that momentous occasion England defeated West Germany 4-2 in extra time , with English striker Geoff Hurst scoring a memorable “hat-trick” for the team . Since then , England’s travails in the tournament can be best described as being languid, if that. And it remains to be seen that as a seeded favorite whether or not Capello and the team will be able to justify the faith that oddsmakers’ have shown in them .
This is but the first piece in a set of “vignettes” that I’ll be doing concerning the upcoming FIFA World Cup. By all means chime in with a comment concerning your thoughts on the event. Be it proactive or not . Let me know what you think of the whole spectacle and whether or not you’ll be showing support for a team or teams as the case maybe. Thanks in advance and I look forward to reading and responding to your comments in kind.
FIFA World rankings Click link to view in full FIFA World Rankings as of 04/20/2010.
NB See who’s favored to win by viewing the odds.
Information as supplied by thespread.com .
Germany & Netherlands 12-1
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) 25-1
Click here to view rest of the field and their odds .
Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….
Slideshow for your perusal .
U2 feat’g Mary J. Blige ………………..”One”