1. Four years of waiting, impatiently towards the end, only to end up running into the same wall as always: the start of the World Cup is denser, more agonizing and boring than an Iranian film. During the first three days of the championship, as I write these lines, the general balance is terrible yet again: three ties, three victories by a hair’s breadth, one victory by two goals in a trivial match, and the only really positive thing from the first weekend - the serious, threatening candidacy of Germany, who totally routed Australia. I don’t know how the tournament will evolve as the days go by and the emergencies and pressure mount as teams qualify for the quarterfinals, but once again we have seen that with this competition we are more carried away by the collective atmosphere of summer football and the four year long expectations than by any objective, centred view of the subject. Because as far as the football goes, we haven’t seen much of so far. What a pain in the ass! So let’s focus on some non-sporting aspects that are catching our interest in these first stages of the World Cup. Five points stand out.
a) Vuvuzelas. Or the instrument of the devil. Torture. If the uninterrupted sound of the criminal buzzing they make can cause drowsiness, irritation, or anger in a casual spectator, it’s hard to imagine the effect it might have on players, aids, or journalists who go to South Africa. Spanish player Dani Güiza said at the last Confederations Cup held in the same country, that “ sitting on the bench you can go crazy.” He wasn’t exaggerating. The trainers can barely give instructions to their players, the commentators have to raise their tone of voice, and the feeling of auditory fear, torment, and hell spreads to all of those who aren’t used to these instrument of torture. Some people even use them to justify bad results. French defence Patrice Évra blamed the end of their game against Uruguay –which ended in a miserable 0 to 0– on the horns, “ We couldn’t sleep. They started blowing at six o’clock in the morning and on the field it was impossible to hear your team mates.” It might be a folklore tradition and a 100% African element of the games, but it is absolutely unbearable and unheard-of on a football field. Totally fucking fed up, let me tell you.
b) Lack of safety. Attacks on journalists, robberies in crowds, avalanches in public squares, roofs of buses sliced by bridges … Who was the genius tha decided to organise a World Cup in South Africa? All of the integrating, multicultural discourse to support this idea looks good on paper, and gives the event a progressive air, but in practice, on an everyday level, it is an enormous blunder. The Olympic Committee, which is no dummy, still hasn’t dared to propose Olympic Games like that, aware that this type of event requires the greatest reliability to be held successfully, and I doubt that this will happen for some years to come. When people talk about the rotation of continents, Africa never enters. This is mainly due to economic factors, of course, but behind this there are also hidden issues regarding organisation, safety, etc. They need to be taken a little more serious, really.
c) The ball. Jabulani is a weird ball. It’s not just me who says so, but rather all of the goalkeepers who have handled it. Did I say goalkeepers? They are, so far (what can we do?), the main stars of the early phase, and it cannot be certified that the official world cup ball doesn’t have anything to do with it. Careful with mistakes, or, speaking more plainly about the monumental screw-ups of two goalkeepers: the English Green and the Algerian Chaouli, who have eaten two pathetic goals that may mark their course in the following matches. Especially painful was the Englishman’s screw-up. One thing is clear: if that mistake had been made by a Colombian goalkeeper, today he would have already received death threats and had his family kidnapped.
d) Whores. The news came out before the beginning of the World Cup: approximately 40,000 prostitutes will be arriving in South Africa during the tournament in order to satisfy the needs of fans, journalists, executives, politicians, and even athletes. The import of professional fellatio-givers has a certain logic: in a country where one out of five inhabitants has AIDS, a little safety and hygiene are appreciated when you want to play hide the sausage. Although recently, reading some articles from correspondents and special envoys, I saw that in Johannesburg there is a new adventure sport that has been all the rage for some time: doing it bareback with a local prostitute. That is to say: playing Russian roulette, but with a different kind of gun. The practice is real. We already read some months ago about a trend in certain homosexual circles, gambling all or nothing with carriers of the virus, so this no longer surprises us. It seems that the city’s taxi drivers already know what to expect when a wild tourist requests this type of service. e) Bilardo and “la colita.” It’s clear that in Argentina, football and the World Cup are experienced in a different way. While in Spain players like Xavi promise that if they win the tournament, they will dye their hair the colours of the selection, in the South American country, the bets are much more serious and convincing. Diego Armando Maradona, Argentina’s trainer, promised that he would take off all of his clothes in public if they manage to make off with the cup. And after seeing him wearing a tight suit in the first game of the competition, it is clear that the striptease would be a sight worth seeing. But that’s nothing compared to what Carlos Bilardo, former Argentine selector has promised—he did not hesitate to state that if his country’s team wins the World Cup, he will let the player who scores the goal that wins the match do “la colita” to him. Those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, no problem, I’ll explain it to you. Synonyms for the Spanish “hacer la colita”: fuck someone up the ass. It seems evident that Bilardo has expressed a desire out loud and has turned it into a patriotic promise. Here the problem, the catch, is not so much in the technician’s asshole, but rather in the poor forward who has to take responsibility for scoring the victory goal, if this occurs. Let’s imagine the situation. Minute 91 of the final, tied at zero. In Messi’s part of the field, the centre goes in hard and knocks down Barcelona’s star player. The referee calls for the maximum penalty. And just at this moment, the players look at the director’s box with panic in their eyes. There in the crowd we see Bilardo’s red face, with a suggestive smile on his face and his left hand pointing in a friendly manner to the jar of Vaseline in his right hand. Just then, in that second of terror, who will be brave enough to take the penalty shot? The fear is not of missing, and the possibility of ending up being the villain of a country emotionally fascinated with the World Cup. No, no. The fear is of scoring the goal and, therefore, being obligated to fulfil Bilardo’s promise.
2. Taking advantage of Bilardo’s fondness for “las colitis,” I can’t help but recommend a website that will delight the women who drop in on this column every month. It is Rugger Bugger, something like the male sports version of sites like Egotastic!, although the contents in some cases are more extreme. The best of each house, in this case, of each sport, showing flesh and everything else. The website is paid, but I’m sure that more than one or two female football fans won’t mind paying the monthly fee to enjoy the flood of “tails,” bums, and abdominal regions that parade through the website. The page is very homo, this is indubitable, but even so it is inevitable that you will laugh out loud when you see this week’s imbeciles showing off their masturbatory gifts on webcams or losing their dignity as home videos come to light. The funniest one is that of the goalkeeper of Aston Villa, Stefan Postma, who appears at home, in the act of being sodomised by his girlfriend with a plastic dildo. It’s impossible to know the degree of evilness, perversion, and humiliation of the jokes that were made in the changing room the days after the video was made public.3. Beat L.A. vs. Celtics Suck. As I see it, the world is always divided between two large groups of people. Basically, in general terms, the world is divided into those who support FC Barcelona those who support Real Madrid, those who drink Coca-Cola and those who drink Pepsi, those who wear Nike and those who wear any other brand of trainers, those on the right and those on the left, those who shower every day and those who don’t, those who faithfully buy albums, and those who download with their ski masks on. But above all, (personal opinion), the universe is fragmented into two very clear profiles: Lakers fans and Celtics fans. Everything else is secondary. And this is why the day it was confirmed that the two teams will play another NBA final, the highest authority in the league, David Stern, noticed a very large, rock-hard erection in his groin area. And even better, the final is meeting fans’ expectations of morbid curiosity, epics, tension, and excitement. In terms of basketball, then, nothing to complain about, except the very close referee calls made on both courts.What sticks with me from these finals is, above all, an anecdote that has come to light these days and which speaks very well of Glenn “Doc” Rivers, trainer for the green team, about the motivational techniques that may have an influence on the season. It is said that when the Celtics visited the Lakers in February, in the regular season game, Rivers asked each of his players and technicians for a 100 dollar bill. Then he took the money, wrapped it in a package, and hid it in the ceiling of the visitors’ changing room at Staples; then he told his team that they could get the money back when they came back to the pavilion. And the only way to come back to Los Angeles was to reach the NBA finals. Many jokes have been made recently in the United States since this anecdote came out, as well as the current financial situation of Antoine Walker, who was one of the emblems of the Celtics in the desert decade of the 90s. The joke is clear: if Walker were still playing on the team, he wouldn’t have been able to participate in Rivers’ motivational tactic, or he would have had to ask for a loan from a teammate.
Walker’s situation is like something from Dante. Drowning in multiple debts, without a team, the player landed in the Puerto Rico league to make easy money and pay some bills, many of them from shining casinos of Las Vegas. It hasn’t been enough, not by a long shot, and so now it is discovered that he has put some personal possessions up for sale, including the championship ring that he got with the Miami Heat in 2006. For memorabilia fans and fetish collectors, the price of the ring is about five thousand euros. And Walker isn’t the only one in the news like this these days. Eddy Curry is also broke, smothered by creditors, and with few sporting options for increasing his salary or getting a better contract that would take care of this downfall. On the list of debts that has been made public to earn the judge’s compassion, the monthly bill of one thousand dollars for cable television stands out. What kind of crazy psychopath spends that kind of money every month just to watch television? African-American athletes are a gold mine, it’s clear.
To these two cases we will add two more that will make fans laugh out loud, and which may come as a total surprise. Zach Randolph, for example. That they have accused him of starting a fight at the exit of a striptease club wouldn’t especially get our attention, but that this happened a day after some media in Indiana leaked that the police accused him of massive marijuana possession, and that the player might even be dealing it, has its own humour. Why an elite athlete, with a million-dollar contract, would jeopardise his sports career for some joints and a bad group of friends is another of those mysteries that we will never decipher. And what to say about Amar’e Stoudemire and his mother, arrested by the police for driving erratically and breaking speed limits. A mistake anyone can make, you’ll say. Yes, but the funny thing is not so much that she was arrested, but the detail later related by the police. It seems that the mother of the Phoenix Suns player was carrying a lot of cash in her purse, and when the police went to take her purse to give it to her son, the lady demanded furiously that they take the wallet out of the purse and give it to her: “I don’t trust him, he’s going to keep all my dough!” It never stops.
4. Roland Garros was held again a couple of weeks ago. The outstanding news would be Rafa Nadal’s victory in the men’s category, the majority would say. Ok, that’s something. As an eminent on-line sports and social columnist said a few months ago, the Spanish player had become something similar to an ex-tennis player. So his comeback in style is noteworthy, although his triumph has taken place in one of the most insipid, most decaffeinated French Grand Slams. If you ask me, I say that the most outstanding news from the tournament is the outfit that Venus Williams wore. The photo is eloquent and offers a lot of possibilities for analysis. In the first place, the basic question: what made the older Williams sister think that she is sexy or attractive? I don’t mean to offend, but if Venus’ name was Max nobody would notice the difference. In fact, who is the bastard that has made the player think that the sight of her prominent rear end would raise the testosterone level of the respected public? And what can we say about the style of the outfit? The decision to wear transparent shorts that show the image of sweaty thong underwear is already questionable, but wearing flesh-coloured shorts is the height of bad taste. Not only that, but the design is so perverse that it is powdered-chocolate flesh-coloured, to match the tennis player’s legs and bottom. We’ll be watching at Wimbledon to see how the American manages to combine the London Grand Slam dress code with her terrifying criteria when it comes to dressing.
5. I will wrap up with two recommendations for sports lovers who have an interest beyond straightforward sports broadcasts. The first, which went on sale in England on 31st May, is the DVD of the documentary “One Night In Turin”. It is a solid visual document of the English selection that managed to reach the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup held in Italy. It is a nostalgic, melancholy reminder of the great lost opportunity of the Great British team led by Paul Gascoigne. I don’t need to tell you that you can find it free on the internet, although here we always encourage people to pay for albums, films, or, in this case, documentaries. Lastly, I think you also have to read “The Fix: Soccer And Organized Crime”), a book written by Canadian journalist Declan Hill that proposes an in-depth, daring look at the tight, real, and even closer-than-we-thought relationship between football, mafias and the business of betting. Fixed matches, high-level corruption, referees bought off, the exchange of favours… a fascinating, well-documented, and fairly rigorous view of the gutters of sports. That’s the news here. We’ll be back next month with the names of the winners of the football World Cup, the NBA finals, and Wimbledon.