By Nth Degree
Pope Francis, on the eve of the start of the World Cup, said this: “Tomorrow the 2018 World Cup championship will begin in Russia. I wish to send my warmest greetings to the players and the organisers, as well as those who will be following via the social media this event that overcomes all boundaries.
“May this important sporting event become an opportunity for encounter, dialogue and fraternity between different cultures and religions, favouring solidarity and peace among nations.”
Thank you, Holy Father, for your words, but you should have added “good health”. If my ticker was not
in fairly good condition, I would have suffered a lil’ heart attack last Saturday! Did you see the Germany versus Sweden game? Tension, tension, tension!
With probably the last kick of the game, Toni Kroos scored off a free kick to give Germany the win! And it was a beauty, hit with the proverbial pace, power and most of all placement, away from the diving Swedish goalie. But the Swedes had the last laugh courtesy South Korea.
I’m writing this last Wednesday when the final group matches are being played and Germany has been unceremoniously booted out of the World Cup. The international football world is entering a new era.
There will be an inquest. I’m not taking any calls. I will not shed a tear. Tear my shirt off? No. Clothes are expensive. Gnashing of teeth? Neither. My dentist would not be happy. But I will drown my sorrow. Someone pass me a Heineken.
I have to say, this is one World Cup that is really getting hard to call. Honestly, I’m going to shut up and watch the rest of matches with an air of expectation because you really don’t know!
Okay, England versus Panama last Sunday was kinda expected (6–1), and France versus Denmark (0–0) was a yawn, but the matches are proving to be really up in the air. And why you ask? Simple—VAR.
Yes, that Video Assistant Referee is adding to the doubt, controversy, drama, tension, excitement and TIME on the watch. Decisions made using the VAR has this World Cup recording the most penalty decisions ever made in its history.
Every decision that could possibly be questioned by the field referee, the fans, coaches, players shouting ‘Take it to the VAR!’ What’s a ref to do? Is it a good thing? I think so, but as you know with all things, it has its limits and it can be abused.
Player falls down in the penalty area under a tackle: was it really a foul, or a good impression of an Olympic dive (Brazilian Neymar, I hear you say)? Take it to the VAR (use your fingers and make a box in the air—practise it!)
CNN had a funny video clip of Australian fans chanting “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” after their draw with France, then changing it to “VAR! VAR! VAR!” Their penalty was awarded because the ref went to the VAR. Same thing happened in their opening game against Denmark.
We’re into the do-or-die part of the World Cup, when it’s either tears of joy over advancing to the next round, or tears of sadness that it’s time to pack up your gears and head home.
And to all you people who know who I am, where I live, where I work (talking to you, Barbara), Lass mich allein. That’s German for ‘Leave me alone’. Please. Oh the despair…