80/ Soccer

Most of this past week’s television has been broadcasting live FIFA World Cup soccer matches taking place in Russia.  There is almost wall to wall coverage pre / post match supplementing commentary during each encounter.  I began the week with little interest in the game and now have less.  Of course, I would feel differently if Republic of Ireland had still been actively participating.  Sadly our gallant national team was eliminated quite early on. Disappointing.  Like not being invited to the party, standing outside and hearing the jollity within. We had the fans.  Officially the best in the world!  Able to out-sing any other nation.  Full of good humour.  The craic. We had the accessories prepared.  We had the flags and banners and pots of green face paint (dashes of orange to show we are a neutral nation). We had the leprechauns – at least their black, stove pipe hats and false, ginger beards.  We just lacked the luck! We hung around outside for a while but our hearts just really weren’t in it any more.

The whole extravaganza is reminiscent to my mind of another international competition, the Eurovision Song Contest.   In this latter, it is the international audiences - all of whom cast their individual vote – that ostensibly decide outcomes.  That’s the theory. However in an age of Trumpian controversy and interference by robots in automated voting processes, I would just as soon solicit the opinions of my dishwasher, or washing machine. Far more trustworthy.  Like. Dislike.  Clean. Dirty.

The extent of foul play during these matches is difficult for the human eye to gauge.  It seems incumbent on any player who falls to the ground during play to continue rolling and writhing in apparent agony until the referee (with the aid of television playback) pronounces judgement.  In many cases these performances can be more ghoulishly interesting to watch than the insipid play itself.

© Benóg Brady Bates


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