Saturday, July 10, 2010


Wayne's World Cup: Consolation or Death Match?

by Wayne Robins

I wasn't sure I saw the point of a World Cup match between the semifinals losers: Saturday's contest between Uruguay and Germany. Who would be motivated to play? Wouldn't the sting of vying for third place in the tournament be just more disappointment for the players?

Perhaps I was wrong. The BBC website has an interesting
article today about Uruguay's intense desire to win: To uphold the pride of South America. To remind the world that this nation of about 3.5 million, (and winners of the very first World Cup in 1930 and again in 1950) belongs once again in elite soccer nations on the planet.

World Cup soccer is attractive not just because of the four year gap between competition, but because it represents so much more than sport. It is about history, politics, social and class conflict, colonialism, imperialism and independence, played by a species (that would be us) whose dominant sport has been war. The clich├ęs (including my own) that accompanied coverage of England vs. Germany were as inevitable as they were irresistible. In a later round, when Germany played Argentina, I pondered the notion that had the game been played 50 years earlier, half the stadium would have been occupied by Mossad agents tracking Nazi war criminals who had escaped judgment at Nuremberg. Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the "final solution" He was
in Buenos Aires, where he had been living under the name Ricardo Klement, in 1960.

In Don DeLillo's 1972 novel "End Zone," which deals in the overlapping jargon between [American] football and nuclear extermination, a professor named Alan Zapalac says: "I reject the notion of football as warfare. Warfare is warfare. We don't need substitutes because we've got the real thing."

World Cup soccer is the real thing, too. According to the BBC, Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has warned Germany that his team will "fight to the death" Saturday. For third place.

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