15 June 2010 – Day 5
Watching the Italy v Paraguay game last night and the weather conditions it took place in, I was reminded of another World Cup. The torrential rain was reminiscent of the 1974 competition in West Germany which was dogged by bad weather. Images of ground staff frantically trying to sweep rain off the pitch seemed a constant image on our TV screens as much as the football. I think on a couple of occasions, local fire services were involved to try and pump water off the pitches. It also struck me that there seemed another similarity between that 1974 and 2010. The sound of the vuvuzela at the games in South Africa has divided opinion. Personally, it is part of the event and I’m not bothered by it. In terms of the link to 1974, I can remember that tournament being accompanied by a constant drone of air horns. I don’t think there was all the fuss there is now.
As well as the furore about the vuvuzela, there has been much talk about the Jabulani, the Official World Cup ball. For me there is an element of the power of suggestion. Once people start saying, “…the ball is light… it’s difficult to control…goalkeepers will struggle with it…”, then the seeds have been planted. Players subconsciously have absorbed these thoughts. Can the ball be blamed for the goalkeeping errors so far? The lack of goals from free-kicks? The increased number of occasions that goalkeepers have been able to kick the ball from one end of the pitch to the other? Over hit passes? Poor control? It has been suggested that the altitude may also have a part to play in how the ball reacts. Yes there maybe something in it, but at the end of the day, these are supposed to be international players, in any game the conditions and equipment are the same for both sides. Gentleman, no more excuses, just get on and play.