June 7, 2006

The Ruinous Tackle Writ Large

The Ruinous Tackle Writ Large

To prepare for our World Cup show, we emailed listeners from World Cup countries (not including the US, because there are too many of you and most of you don’t care). We’ve heard back from a few people:

Hurley tipped us off to a rigging and betting scandal in Italy.

The present state of Italy is rather accurately reflected in the various football scandals half the country is trying to obscure. Football has always been important here, but Berlusconi managed to corrupt it and the country in ways I don’t think anyone yet quite understands. It’s not a matter of fair-play, but the lack of desire for fair play, the contempt for the very concept. The ruinous tackle, the feigned injury: imagine them writ large and you’ll have the idea.

hurley, in a letter to Open Source, 6/6/06

From Graham Lampa, an American student on a Fulbright in Reutlingen, Germany:

You would think that the local passion for football would translate into pride for the German national team, but that is complicated at best. … Of course Germans will support their national team and cheer them on and hope they do well, but most of the trappings of nationalistic culture are very taboo here because of Germany’s history. For instance, it is very rare to see the German flag flying — and then, usually only flown by ultra-conservatives, neo-fascist/nazis, or others who do not feel the general sense of national shame and guilt that pervades the rest of society.

Graham Lampa, in a letter to Open Source, 6/6/06

From Gwyneth Llewlyn in Estoril, Portugal:

Portugal has been for half a century under a right-wing, mild dictatorship … During those sad days, soccer was one of the most effective ways to get people distracted, as well as religion. In a sense, every time you wish to keep the Portuguese busy thinking about something else, you give them soccer.

… While the Portuguese always loved soccer, it’s also true that they had rather low expectations, always — our teams were the worst in Europe, and the national team almost never qualified for either the European or the World Cup. This has changed in the past few years, where lots of local teams have won European championships — and the national team didn’t fare so badly at the Euro Cup of 2004. I guess there is a recent outburst of “national pride” which is not only uncommon, but actually contrary to the mild Portuguese nature.

For some (ie. outsiders like me), it’s a bit shocking to see people flowing in the tens of thousands into stadiums to form a “giant flag”, or singing the national anthem without understanding what the words mean, and hanging out flags out of the windows for everybody to see. Naturally, it’s nice to see people not being ashamed of showing their patriotism, it’s only a pity its turned to soccer events; and it’s probably not a coincidence that the right-wing groups have been rather more active the past few years … All this to forget a stagnated economy, high unemployment, a continuous rise of prices and all taxes … and with a long recovery curve ahead.

Gwyneth Llewlyn, in a letter to Open Source, 6/6/06

Thanks to rm, VEBFILM, LLL, and ampis for getting back to us!

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