Poetic justice? Well I suppose so yes, but really Sepp Blatter of FIFA should be taken out at dawn tomorrow and quietly dispatched for his inexplicable one-man refusal to accept what everyone in the game believes: that goal-line technology is at least thirty years overdue.
I talk to American friends on this subject, and they find the amateurism of FIFA almost surreal in general, but insane on the subject of technology. How, they ask, can probably the most lucrative of all global sports be run with no camera replay or even bounce-recording equipment as standard? And the answer, I’m afraid, is Sepp Blatter.
All this said, I truly cannot remember in my life a first half performance of such dispirited ineptitude by an England side. No England fan could’ve complained had the Germans gone in 5-1 in the lead at half-time. For much of the game, in fact, the defensive play of both sides was beyond loose; but it was Germany who took more of the chances handed to them on a plate, as they strolled into a 2-0 lead within the first half-hour, and then casually added another two in the first half an hour after the break.
Make no mistake: this was a humiliation for England. And while the Slog’s pessimism has been totally vindicated, I have rarely in my life wanted so much to be wrong. The thing that both puzzles and horrifies me is that a 62 year-old bloke who never played football beyond town representative level could see precisely how average this England side is before a single ball had been kicked in the 2010 World Cup – but the FA (and the media on the whole) couldn’t. When my chum and I sat down to watch the game, and heard that the bookies had made England favourites, we simply looked at other – and burst out laughing.
I believe that talking up the mediocre has become a British illness, but the long-term reason why English soccer is so poor can also be laid at the door of the greedy, short-termist gnomes at the FA, whose collusion with Rupert Murdoch has resulted in vulgar madness on the Premiership playing fields, and a hopelessly under-funded national game at junior level.
I would dearly love to think that the ridiculous overestimate of this English side’s quality would now jolt the nation back to reality – and acceptance of simple facts. For example, the first step towards something better has to be a radical rethink of whether third-rate talent show winners and PR-dim Government ministers can really turn round our future as a nation.
But it won’t. The sufficiency culture – created by non-competitive education and firmly cemented in place by ratings-obsessed media – is here to stay. It may be diluted and finally destroyed by Crash 2, which is now almost upon us. But it won’t be destroyed until those who confuse equality of opportunity with mindless egalitarianism (and reduce our liberties on the way) are shown up for the destructive clowns they are.