What Will You Remember From the 2010 World Cup?
Soccer fans seem very much divided as to the quality of the just-completed World Cup. That’s primarily because everyone defines “quality” differently. Some want entertainment (and lots of goals). Some will be satisfied only if their teams wins it all. Some want less controversy; some want more. (One complaint I haven’t heard is that soccer should be visited, as cycling and baseball and other sports are, by more scandals over performance-enhancing drugs; is this an argument for letting sleeping dogs lie?)
My Spanish friends are of course ecstatic, and I am happy for them, and I very much enjoyed Spain’s play throughout; how could you not?
My Dutch friends are bitter, and I feel for them, although I do not disagree with commentators who argue that the Dutch team was borderline-thuggish in the final — which, given the fact that no referee wants to send off players willy-nilly in a final and will therefore let even a cleat to the chest earn only a yellow card, was (if intentional) a wise strategy.
My question for you this morning is: What will you most remember from the 2010 World Cup? A few things drifting through my head:
- Will this be the World Cup in which the referees — especially Howard Webb, Koman Coulibaly, and Jorge Labbadia — are remembered more than the players?
- The general failure of superstars (Rooney, Messi, Ronaldo, et al) to shine, and Diego Maradona‘s interesting explanation thereof: that today’s stars aren’t too selfish, but rather not selfish enough.
- The fact that England once again tortures its citizenry with false hope and outsize expectations.
- The much-maligned Jabulani ball. For the record, after I noted in the early goings of the tournament that scoring was very, very low — despite some predictions the new ball would inflate scoring — the 2010 World Cup, with 2.27 goals per match, failed to become the lowest-scoring tourney in history (an honor still held by the 1990 Cup, with 2.21 goals).
- The tourney was a good one for shootout-hating purists, as penalty kicks didn’t play a very prominent role (relegating our kick-down-the-middle strategy to the sidelines).
- Only one team went undefeated in this tournament. I’ll be surprised if you can name it.
- Or maybe we’ll simply remember that Xavi is a magician, and is beautiful to behold.
See you in 2014.