Confused about the World Cup? Just wait till you read this 4

I’m a huge fan of football. And so, with World Cup 2010 in full swing, this is an exciting month for me.

I’ve been a football fan for literally as long as I can remember. And by that, of course, I mean that the Cup started a week ago, and a week is as about long as I can remember. Before I was a football fan, I was a Grateful Dead fan; you can draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, for those of you who are new to “the beautiful game,” as it is sometimes called, I have assembled a few pointers.

The biggest news in World Cup action this week was a foul called against the US side during their match against Slovenia; the controversial ruling deprived the Yanks of a goal and subsequently a much-needed win.  Good news, however – according to FIFA rules, the call is not officially final until Joe Barton apologizes for it.

Some of the terminology used in soccer can be confusing; allow me to clarify. To begin with, the game is rightly called “football,” although in this country it is sometimes called “soccer,” or more often “elitist Euro-fag-ball.” It’s called “the world’s game” because the entire planet has taken it to its bosom. The entire planet except for us, I mean. But then, we’re the country that stages baseball games that we call (without irony) the World Series — and then don’t invite any other countries in the … you know … world.

Vuvuzela – Perhaps no aspect of this Cup has generated more commentary than the vuvuzela. No, this is not a country in South America; nor is it a part of a woman’s body (oh, grow up – I was referring to the uvula). It is a long plastic horn that has roots in South African culture that stretch all the way back to the early 2000s. It emits a sound that has been compared variously to a flatulent elephant or a BP spokesman.

Many fans despise the vuvuzela, claiming that its sound is distracting. Chief among the haters are long-time fans of English Premier League football, a refined lot who are accustomed to the more Shakespearean cadences of what are known as  “terrace chants” – refrains of encouragement such as “Posh Spice takes it up the ass” that once welcomed Manchester United’s David Beckham to the pitch.

Speaking of chants, fans of Mexico’s “El Tri” are fond of chanting “Puto! Puto!” at opposition goalkeepers. If my high school Spanish still serves, this means, “If it please God, may our team prevail in this contest.” The language of Cervantes is indeed a beautiful one.

Ghana – Unlike “vuvuzela,” this is a country, and not the sacramental herb adored by Rastafarians and fans of String Cheese Incident. To muddy the waters further, the team’s colors are identical to the Rasta colors of red, gold and green. I spent 90 minutes (not counting stoppage time) waiting for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz to take the pitch, or for the entire team to wander off in search of donuts and some Bob Marley music.

Royal Bafokeng – Apparently this is a stadium, and not a World Cup “special” being offered by Rustenburg hookers, as I had reported earlier. My apologies.

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