FIFA London Cup 2006

I was thinking the other day that it’s surprising and slightly disappointing that, while London is covered in England flags for the World Cup, you don’t see many flags from other countries. Something like 25% of people resident in London were born outside the UK, so there must be plenty of people supporting just about everywhere.

But I went to a friend’s house in Oval yesterday. Oval is ‘Little Lisbon’, the Portuguese centre of London, and Portugal were playing their first World Cup game that evening against ex-colony Angola. Everywhere were people wearing Portugal shirts, or the Portugal strip, or Portugal scarves, or waving the Portuguese flag. It was great. There was even some banter between Angolan and Portuguese fans on the bus (at least I think it was banter, but I don’t speak Portuguese).

I love that. I loved the fact that when South Korea won some key match at the last World Cup – beating Italy maybe? – hundreds of Koreans turned up in Trafalgar Square singing and waving Korean flags.

I suppose a comment about England’s first game is in order. it wasn’t that encouraging, let’s be honest. But we got the three points; we’re clear at the top of the group; it’s a marathon not a sprint; it’s a game of fourteen halves; it’s still a while until the fat lad sings.


Eight minutes to kick off

… everything is still possible.

Culture Other

Peculiar subtitles

it’s still Michael Allen – and he scores a girl!

I was watching the football build-up with the sound off and the subtitles on.


Soccer, soca, and similar

I was getting antsy waiting for the footy (an hour and twenty minutes build-up before the match clearly isn’t enough, dammit), so I thought I’d try and buy some music from each country England plays in the World Cup.

I already have a fair bit of Swedish pop, thanks to Catchy Tunes of Sweden. Trinidad and Tobago was easy enough; the team nickname is the ‘Soca Warriors’ after all, and so I looked up soca on Wikipedia and bought a few tracks from iTunes, some old (Lord Shorty, The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener), and some new (Shurwayne Winchester, Machel Monatano).

Paraguay, on the other hand, seems a bit tricky. Calabash, everyone’s favourite fair trade world music mp3 shop, doesn’t have anything from Paraguay. Wikipedia was useless. iTunes mainly offers me traditional harp music which, to be honest, I’m not getting enthusiastic about.

Can you tell I’m killing time here?


Those Ashley Cole rumours



countdown: 6 giorni, 16 ore, 24 minuti, 41 secondi

You will have noticed my incredible self control in not yet mentioning the World Cup.

But I was just watching a program called ‘World Cup Goals Galore’ featuring, well, lots and lots and lots of goals (top 10 free kicks; top ten goals scored by defenders; top ten goals scored by players with moustaches etc etc). Even just watching a couple of hundred goals one after another, without the context of the game and with a rather laboured jokey commentary, was joyous.

The great moments in football, more than any other sport I watch, are just wonderful. I think perhaps it’s just the extraordinary implausibility of the fact that they’re doing it with their feet. The human foot is not designed for manipulating objects, and even after years spent watching the game, I don’t think I’ve ever quite lost the sense that it just shouldn’t be possible to intentionally kick a ball into the corner of the goal from 25 yards. Even without defenders and a goalie to worry about.

And yet when it all comes off, it looks so easy and natural that you find yourself thinking “if you can dribble past three people, swivel and whip the ball into the corner of the net, why don’t you do it more often?”