Saturday, June 26, 2010

Musings on the World Cup

Kevin-Prince Boateng celebrates scoring Ghana's first goal.
Photograph: Martin Rose/Getty Images

It's been good to finally be in roughly the right time zone for the World Cup this time around. During the Germany 2006 tournament, I was still in Japan and the one before that the tournament itself was being held in East Asia while I was still in Europe. This has meant that the games have been held during my waking hours and it's been much easier to catch more of them.

I watched the USA vs Ghana game tonight and came away pleased with the result. Although I'm happy to see the Americans starting to do well in football as this further internationalises the game, I was definitely rooting for Ghana. Being the only African team left in the tournament, they now represent the hopes of a continent. As someone that grew up with a image of Africa that was framed by Western media as something like the 'basket case' of the world (famine, drought, disease, corruption, etc), it's fantastic to now see more positive perceptions of the continent being put forward. I've only spent time in Tanzania, but was amazed to see what an impact football had on the place, so I think it's right that an African team should finally be going forward (although I believe that Senegal and one other nation have previously progressed as far as the Quarter Finals before).

I've never been the world's greatest sports fan, but at times like this - when significant proportions of the world's eyes are tuned in to the action - I make an exception. That probably makes it a little easier for my wife, in that she only has to put up with me going on about the games every four years (possibly two if we count the European Championships too!). Equally, I don't tend to align myself that closely with 'my nation' that often either, being more or an internationalist at heart than a nationalist. However, the World Cup's also one of those moments that I join in the national conversation and keep a keen eye on England's fortunes.

Once again, they've made it through the first stage and one match stands between them and a place in the Quarter Finals - against apparent 'historic rivals'. Tomorrow - England vs Germany, it's going to be an interesting afternoon! By all accounts, we're set for a heatwave too, here in England...


idleformat said...

Er, hope you enjoyed the game! At least Japan are still in it - they were looking great against Denmark, especially dangerous with free-kicks. Was interested in this article about North Korean fans at the tournament:

Globalism said...

Well, I won't even say that it was an interesting one! Shocking, to say the least. Actually, probably not that shocking really.

I had switched my support to Japan, but now they're out too (shame, they'd been playing better than England).

Heard about those North Korean 'fans' - a Chinese plant, you say?