Sunday, July 09, 2006

2006 FIFA World Cup Conclusion

Slowly Europe and rest of the world will come to senses now that the party is over. All praise to Germany for what seems like hosting a great tournament. What is the beef with that guy named Franz Beckenbauer? Seems like he is always on the positive and winning side of the great game called football! Other games would envy when would they get their Beckenbauers. German team also achieved great success and the whole feel about the team, the nation and the game was very positive and refreshing. Rarely a sports phenomenon has achieved such a positive spirit. Hopefully Chinese organizers attain some of that ‘positive spirit’ in Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Unpredictability in football is the only predictable thing. French played all through a great game in the final, but could not lift the trophy. Two chances late in the game were sensational for French – one just before Ribery came out when he took the shot at the goal post and the second chance of Zidane’s header. Buffon made great save and in a sense Italy won their cup right then and there.

Great deal of media ink and attention will be spilled about Zidane’s red card. But it is pretty obvious that missing the header moments before made him frustrated and angry. Of course there is no way to justify his behavior. Hitting the player in chest was senseless and that was the psychological blow French were unlikely to overcome, for that matter any team. What a sad spectacle for Zidane, French and in the end for World Football. FIFA would have had an egg on it's face if Zidane was not expelled at that time. It is quite likely that he may be further punished or prosecuted. The only thing it demonstrates is in the end hero’s are humans too who can make mistake. Hopefully the world media does not go overboard in berating Zidane and gives due credit to what he has achieved in his life time. The incident was bad but that single incident does not erase all of his achievements over many years.

FIFA needs to worry about what is a better way to avoid penalty kicks in the final. It is disgrace to decide the final in penalty kicks. Hopefully as the FIFA management has said, they would brain storm and come up with better solutions to this problem. Other than that, FIFA stock is rising and at the moment it is at the zenith of its popularity, power and sheer afterglow. We will see what happens in next 4 years when FIFA kicks the next world cup in S. Africa. One thing will be sure - Europeans will unlikely to dominate that tournament. As England team said, cup in Europe was the best chance for England and European teams to win. Italians clinched it. Their defense, as usual, was great and they won that basis.

Something is quite electrifying in staging a physical activity of 22 players which is watched all over the world by Billion people – the game in the same stadium where Hitler organized his 1936 Olympics. Rest of the world does get the message – Germany, Europe and the whole world has come a long way on a better road. Let us keep walking on this good road.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
July 9, 2006.

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