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v. Ukraine Quarterfinal - Hamburg
Italy v. Australia -
Kaiserslautern - worst host city in Germany
Republic v. Italy - Volksparkstadion Hamburg
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia v. Ukraine - Volksparkstadion Hamburg
Italy v. United States - Fritz Walter Stadion Kaiserslautern
v. Polen (Dortmund) - Hamburg Fan Festival
States v. Czech Republic - Arena auf Schalke Gelsenkirchen
Czech Republic v. Italy
battalions kept an elephant among their ranks, not because they
contributed much from a military perspective, but for the gawping
delirium this berserk addition to the artillery would evoke in
opponents. And to witness the affable gangle-tang of limbs sans gorm
must at least bemuse our foes.
What a delightful double act Crouch and Rooney made in the second half
against Trinidad & Tobago. Rooney's porcine squint bristling
bound devastation like febrile livestock, a rosette-spattered minotaur
so brimming with force that when denied action, he's a danger to his
teammates and himself.
It's easy to imagine this destructive, Kali-like energy leading young
Wayne into the crimson-lipped arms of a snaggle-toothed matriarch just
to grunt and vent his darkly beautiful potency."
guardian.co.uk (edited for style)
the tram back I discussed the match with a gay Iranian couple, one of
whom wore a very tight white T-shirt and spoke with impressive
authority about the problems with the Iranian midfield, in a camp and
slightly American accent. If I'm ever asked to make one of those lists
of 50 things you should do before you die, one will be "Discuss how to
move quickly on the break with gay Iranians on a tram." The problem
with Iran, apparently, is it needs modernising. But England is some way
from having a football pundit who says: "You back off a player like
Figo in the final third, believe me, honey, you're so dead."
Separated at birth?
Is it just me or is Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo a dead ringer for Udo Kier?
Brush with the Stars
While in Germany I had a few brushes with the
stars. Second up was on the nightmare train ride out of Kaiserslautern
after the Italy-USA match where I found myself on the floor behind the
seated Christian Miles of Fox Sports World. Not exactly a world-famous
star but I recognized his voice as I continued a conversation with him
and when I finally saw his face realized why, despite his being hoarse,
he sounded familiar. I initially had butted into a conversation with
him when I felt compelled to correct his assertion that Kaiserslautern
had not been home to a Bundesliga team for two years. 1FCK were
actually relegated only this past spring so he was off by a good two
years. I had to come to the defense of my team!
But previous to that, outside the stadium after the USA-Italy match,
right after telling my companions in typical know-it-all fashion that
the US team would've been better with a speedy attacking defender like
Frankie Hejduk we run into none other than the man himself, Frankie
Hejduk. So naturally I ask the man for a photo, forgetting I'm wearing
an Italy shirt. He says "hey, Italy!" But I made a quick excuse, put my
arm around him and we got the photo. Frankie was nice & made a good
first impression. I probably wouldn't have noticed him but for the
hoard surrounding him all wearing USA jerseys with Hejduk printed on
the back. That made the small part of my brain still working at that
moment sit up and take notice and suddenly there was Frankie.
We walked a bit further after seeing Frankie and there was Thomas
Rongen, the Dutchman currently head coach of Major League Soccer's
Later in the tournament while leaving the Fritz Walter Stadion after
Italy-Australia we saw Stefan Effenberg walking the opposite way on
the street. He looked pretty big from 25 yards away.
After the quarterfinals I shared the train from Hamburg to Frankfurt
with Mexico's Pavel Pardo. Not a big guy, to say the least, but he
looked sharp, well-groomed (sounds like I'm talking about a dog) and up
close he's rather pretty.
Finally, after my long journey home while taking the American Airlines
tram from one terminal to the next I shared a tram with the actor
Ciarán Hinds. He was twitchy, seemed sort of nervous, was
briefly fascinated by a plane taking off, but all the while maintained
his actor's straight posture like the back of his mind is always
controlling his body. I couldn't think of his name at the moment or I'd
have asked him for a photo. He was in Texas at the time filming a
movie, There Will Be Blood. I did surreptitiously snap a photo with my cell phone camera.
I'm in Colmar, France, in the
Alsace region, which
is as much German as French. Except when it comes to soccer. Tuesday
night showed they are 100% French here. It's a small town, across the
border from Freiburg, Germany. But at the final whistle, after Zinedine
Zidane had showed he still has it, they took to the streets in cars,
motorcycles, scooters & bicycles to celebrate well into the
hours (the match ended shortly before 11:00pm local time) with honking
horns, whistles, flags and a gauntlet to be run by any driver brave
enough to enter the roundabout at the heart of the old town here, where
each entering car was given a furious rocking from all sides by young
people delirious and perhaps disbelieving. Oh, and from a car full of
young, lithe north African guys one of them kept getting out and
dancing on the roof the car and showing his bare butt to everyone. And
a fine butt it was..
We struggled to find a place showing the game here in the hour before
kickoff. We'd watched Brazil escorted through to the quarterfinals by a
combination of kind officiating & poor finishing from Ghana at
Australia-themed bar but were hoping for something a bit more grown-up
for the big evening match. But as we walked through the old part of
town here all we found were 3 teenaged boys, one with a flag, singing
Le Marseillaise and telling us to go to the very same bar we'd sworn
off earlier "by cinema, oui, cinema." Taking our leave of them I
remarked that those must be the only 3 football fans in town. Not my
best prognosticating, to be sure.
So we gave up finding another place and headed for the creatively-named
Fosters where by this time it seemed every young person in town had
crowded in and the heat was too much for me. I eventually moved on to a
smaller, air-conditioned bar called Rapido which contained a video game
in which you rapidly press buttons to bring about tooth decay in the
mouth of a child who screams obligingly as you empty his/her mouth of
teeth. You'd think these things would be a huge hit in England, but
never having been there I can't say. I can say that I do love my
I expected Spain to try to overwhelm France with speed & width
while France absorbed the pressure and hit on the counter-attack. And I
guess that's pretty much what happened. Obviously someone had got it
through the heads of France's midfielders that ploddingly slow build-up
play wasn't going to frighten anyone so with an extra bite in the
tackle followed by quick-release passing the French eventually got a
grip on the game and looking back now really they dominated as Spain
had only the penalty and a few other close calls while looking more
bewildered as the game progressed. Too bad for them, but great for
France and little Colmar, as the only three football fans in town
became a thousand by the fulltime whistle. The horns were still honking
on the circular drive around the old town center two hours later. This
is why we came here - to watch France in France with French people
speaking French, though with a bit of German thrown in. After a few
beers I came back to my room at the Primo Hotel
(http://www.hotel-primo.com/) and watched the match again on Eurosport.
Long may Zidane live the game.
Italy v. Australia and, well,
what? You think I'm
going to apologize/rationalize/justify? I don't give a shit. Italy won.
Australia - you got served. I did find this, though, on a kangaroo
carcass outside the stadium the morning after the match...
Note to Self
Written by Lucas Neill to
Lucas Neill (scrawled hastily on back of kangaroo he is fucking in
locker room after losing to Italy:)
Do not lie down in penalty area even if man with ball is crappy Italian
defender who probably shouldn't even be in the team. Also, do not
believe that annoying compatriots in thousands will have any influence
on final score, despite their ten billionth rendition of
Aus...stral...i...aaaaaaa...na na na na na na na...na na na na na na
na...na na na na na na na, or Stand Up For the Socceroos, which only
made me want to fuck another kangaroo at halftime, or any other
stupidass loud annoying useless cheers which despite probably being as
nails on a chalkboard to any three Italy supporters whose tickets were
inexplicably right in the fucking middle of the goddamn Australians
jesus fucking christ not again they are still better and more inventive
than those stupidass USA USA cheers that could put a blow-up sex doll
to sleep. Also, do not waste chances to score against defenders as
imperious/stupendous/impenetrable/commanding/unbelievable as Fabio
Cannavaro. He will laugh at you each time you miss, even after his
defensive partner has been sent off, which also made him laugh. At you.
For pissing him off. In fact, he will be happy to be left alone in the
center because neither you nor anyone from Australia frighten him even
a little bit. Which is also why he didn't even bother sending a
teammate to defend their left side. Because even though we had a man
advantage he knew no harm could come from leaving one-third of the
pitch wide open to Australians. And so none did.
PS: there may be a better defender in the world but I can not think of
who he might be just now because my head is spinning so fast because I
have just been served. And because I am fucking a kangaroo.
TimesOnline.co.uk was kind
enough to post my comments re: their comments on Bruce Arena &
the Italy-USA match. Unfortunately with the Times recent redesign the link is now broken. Bastards.:
Hell hath no fury like a spoiled American brat
soccer fan taking a three week vacation from his vacation life to bitch
about his country's performance in the World Cup Finals. I have 48
learn the words to the Italian national anthem.
Here's one from the "did you just figure this out yesterday or were you
willfully ignorant 15 months ago when crybabypussy cried all the way
home from Germany so he could sleep with his twin sister every night?"
book of "journalism."
"Merk's decision to whistle U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu for the
aforementioned penalty merely continued that trend. There looked to be
minimal contact between Onyewu and Ghanaian forward Razak Pimpong on
the play, yet it was enough for Merk to point to the spot. It was
obviously a terrible call, and when you combine incidents like this
with the fact that the U.S. twice hit the post in the tournament, it's
clear that the intangibles that accompanied the team in 2002 abandoned
them in 2006.
"We had horrible luck," said Landon Donovan. "I don't know if we pissed
someone off somewhere and our karma is coming back or what.""
I like that one, too. So I quote from it. Obviously a terrible call?
Take off your splattered blood of Iraqi women & children
glasses and watch it again. Just because, in soccer terms, you're
monstrously huge doesn't mean it's w/in the rules to body-barge
opposing forwards in the box. And throwing your hands up like a cop's
pointing a gun at you doesn't absolve you of blame. Because if you
don't know by now that Markus Merk can be, as we say down south,
persnickety, then stupid on you, Oguchi. Same for Mastroweenie. "I got
the ball, I got the ball." Hey stupid ass, they told you before the
tournament began - no more of that crap. It doesn't fucking matter if
you got the ball. Oh, and Mastroweenie, you, like Donovan have
improved, let's see, oh yeah, not at all in the past four years. Good
job. Del Piero makes your yearly salary in the time it takes to go pick
up his morning paper. But hey, look on the bright side - you're not the
first player who pooped his diaper coming up against Andrea
They told you don't kick the ball away after a whistle, don't lunge at
the ball with one or two feet, don't pull shirts and don't take your
frustration out with little pushes & shoves on your opponents
(Zizou, where are you?) If you didn't listen at the referees meeting
all 32 teams had before the tournament began tough shit shut your
fucking pie hole & go home. You added nothing to the
tournament but another 88 variations on USA USA. Oh, they did
apparently come up with a "new" one in Nuremberg, supposedly singing
something along the lines of "and the yanks come marching in" from the
train station to the stadium. Wow, now where have I heard that
before...oh yeah, watching (mostly) crappy, head-kicking,
midfield-avoiding backwardsass tactically inept English soccer every
weekend. Good idea copying the habits of people occupying a tiny, now
insignificant, island overrun with low-paid Polish workers and Russians
with more money than sense. "Want our island? Sure, come on in. We'll
sell off our industries one by one then tell everyone how great we are
the house of cards collapses behind the curtain." (Relax, I'm talking
about the English government, not your average working man/woman who by
all accounts is decent & honest. Probably.)
And Donovan says they had terrible luck. Yeah, terrible luck in having
a tiny crybaby pussy douchebag content to pick daisies in MLS being
given playing time in the World Cup fucking Finals. I'd call that
really really bad fucking luck.
I don't know if we pissed off someone somewhere...hey Landon, read the
papers lately? Like in the last five years? Even once? The world hates
us, hates you, and despite your overblown 5th in the world ranking they
are glad to see you suck balls & be exposed as the diaper
wearing shit-smeared excuse-waving loser you are.
There. I feel better already. Nothing like turning on your own. Like
eating your children or something.
"How much for the baby?"
Stealing bandwidth here in
Somebody on Spitalerstrasse bought a wireless router but doesn't know
how to turn on the security. And for that I thank him/her...
Did I say stealing? I meant borrowing.
Doped up with back pain meds I asked the stewards where is my seat,
they point me in the general direction and slowly the realization sinks
in that my very excellent Category 1 seat is right smack in the middle
of that sea of red otherwise known to civilization as Every Fan of the
Czech Republic Remaining in Germany.
Of course I'm wearing a blue Italia pseudo-replica, god bless me.
Fortunately all the Czechs spent the day drinking and they just pointed
and laughed as I squeezed by to my seat. And as the game went on they
seemed to assume a fatalist approach to the game. They didn't rant
& rave or scream at the ref or curse the Italians (except Totti
when he took corners right below us.) They just took it, chanting and
cheering regardless of the obvious outcome, then applauded their men
off the field, Nedved last, pausing one last time to take in the crowd,
the sounds, the atmosphere. He kneeled, crossed himself, then
disappeared down the tunnel, never
to emerge for the Czech Republic again, an era passed. Full time called
on a great career.
And both times Italy scored I just had to sit there and celebrate on
the inside. I thought it would just be rude to do otherwise.
This morning I picked up my tickets with voucher to the 2nd round and
quarterfinal matchs - I'm going to Italy v. Australia in Kaiserslautern
then the quarterfinal in Hamburg! The quarterfinal will be
Italy/Australia v. Ukraine/Switzerland. So if all goes according to
plan Gli Azurri should have the least incredibly difficult path to the
finals. The Australians will be extremely hard to beat - Guus Hiddink
and their "we're louder than those pussy English" supporters will make
Italy work for every inch of space. But it's better than
facing Brazil right away.
Tuesday June 20
I bought a ticket to Saudi
Arabia v. Ukraine for
€75 (plus the first twenty minutes of the match) last night.
were to rank humans by their jobs then the bottom three, in no
particular order, would be "journalists" (reporters who for no apparent
reason went to college - and wear ties,) politicians - and scalpers.
You could cook dinner for a year with the grease dripping from the
reptilian skins of these slimy urchins (yeah, I know urchins aren't
reptiles, blow me.) The wonderful thing about the transaction was that
I found myself the proud owner of a complimentary ticket issued to the
football federation of Togo. Just yesterday an African FIFA official
was publicly shamed & sent home for selling his complimentary
tickets at three times face value. I'm still not sure if his crime was
simply selling them or selling them at three times face value. And if
it was the latter is he in trouble for selling for too much or too
little? These are the questions which stand between me and sleep each
Let's be honest - the team representing Saudi Arabia at these World Cup
Finals are the living embodiment of one rather useful &
word in the English language. That word is spelled S-U-C-K. They suck.
They suck balls. They suck everything you can imagine fitting in the
mouth of a beast, human or otherwise. Suck suckity suck suck suck. No
organization, no clue, no heart - they hardly looked like they were
trying. And why is their goalkeeer covered from neck to toe? It's
summer and hot outside and in. Surely it can't be modesty as his
teammates, sucktastickly delicious in their green & white, show
plenty of leg. My guess is he's covering his chicken legs which
otherwise would stand as testament to the fact that he hasn't actually
exercised one day in his oil-soaked, royal family sucking-up-to life.
These guys are impostors of whose countrymen (and women, if they have
any, I have no evidence that any actually exist) should be ashamed. I
know that sentence sounds totally wrong but I can't think of where the
preposition should go. Poorly placed prepositions are something up with
which I should not put. Nevertheless...it's obvious what's wrong with
Arabian football (the Saudi part is simply homage to the
stuck-in-the-15th-century cretins whose ever-expanding &
in-breeding royal family rule the kingdom) which is that the players
are fat, spoiled and unchallenged in their homeland while effectively
prohibited from playing abroad. They are allowed to play abroad, but
the restrictions placed upon them, not to mention the jail time
awaiting should they be spied drinking, gasp, alcohol or throwing
covetous glances toward western, skin-showing women mean few dare. And
Boy does it show. They suck so badly. Actually they suck
quite well. They suck fantastically well. It's the actual playing which
they do badly. And unfortunately for me that is the abiding memory I
carry from this match rather than Sergiy Rebrov's long-range rocket or
Andriy Shevchenko's first, joyously-celebrated goal in a World Cup
Finals. So thank you very much stupid useless suckliciously suckulent
ball-sucking Saudis. You ruined my night with your pathetic &
petulant middle-fingering to the spirit of competition at this great
spectacle of sport. You should be shown red by FIFA & sent
subito, sofort, immediately. Then extraordinarily rendered to some far
off desert country where the interrogators are free to pretend the idea
of human rights is an ideal still waiting to be discovered. What's
that? Oh. Never mind.
WARNING: I'm grumpy, lacking sleep and generally the most pissed off
happy person in Germany. Like love/hate there's a fine line for me
between pissed off/happy. I swing wildly back & forth all day
day here. Love the Germans but jesus would it kill them to smile? Love
the games but goddammit why are the Americans so obnoxious? Love the
embrace of technology but dammit why is everything in German? Oh.
Anyhoo, take it for what it's worth - rants by an unemployed snob with
nothing better to do than wander halfway around the world to the
greatest sporting spectacle on earth and then complain about it...
I took a train from Hamburg to Kaiserslautern & then
to Hamburg all in the space of 21 hours. Thirteen of those hours were
spent on a train, two I spent at the Italy v United States match and
the rest negotiating through the worst-organized host town of this
tournament. Which pains me to say as I love Kaiserslautern the team. My
love for the town, though, is greatly diminished.
We were herded in what seemed like a figure-eight designed to sap all
our reserves of strength around and around the stadium before finally
being allowed entrance. Then up and up and up and up endless flights of
stairs. The newly-refurbished arena, no longer qualified to be called a
stadium so generic in design has it become, is pleasant enough with the
spectators close to the pitch. So no argument there. But the arguments
began again when the match ended as clearly no planning had gone into
fans' egress, but rather only into protecting the homes immediately
surrounding the area. Locals chased away any stray visitors with
thoughts of relieving themselves on their property while
soldiers/police stood guard as we filed sardine-like into the smallest
throughways they could possibly construct w/o actually endangering our
lives. It took 45 minutes to get 100 yards from the stadium and then we
were only deposited onto the crowded street fronting the train station
where hordes of folks who had checked bags waited over 2 hours to get
back their belongings.
And wonder of wonders it appears no one told Deutsche Bahn that the
town was hosting a World Cup Finals match that evening. The regular
train schedule was not altered at all. So the two-hour train to
Frankfurt was packed, this time to a life-endangering degree, with all
holes filled with hard bodies - every crevasse, all floor space, the
areas meant to be open which host the connections between cars. Only
the WCs were not filled with people, showing that some of us still
retained some memory of civilization as it exists outside southwestern
Germany. A small riot was averted in the train station only after the
increasingly frightened police decided to allow the train to be
overpacked rather than try to imprison anxious travelers downstairs in
the station for four hours until the next train arrived. This was a
nightmare relieved only by arrival in Frankfurt as the most annoying,
chauvinistic, ignorant & unsophisticated supporters in the
(USA) finally left the rest of us to enjoy our long journeys north in
I won't be going to Nürnberg for the USA v. Ghana match. I
another 90 minutes surrounded by these ignorant, blindly patriotic,
dimwitted products of the American public education system. Every
"song" or cheer consists solely of some cliched borrowing of an
annoying-to-begin-with tune they heard while watching what they believe
is the only league that exists outside MLS (England Premier League)
with the grunts U-S-A tacked on as if it were the charge yelled before
murdering more civilians in some far off country in the name of the
"war on terror."
I've always been baffled by the idea of pride in one's place of origin,
seeing how it's all a product of some bizarre cosmic accident (birth)
and to see this pride taken to such absurd extremes by fat, spoiled
upper-middle class ignorant chauvinists who can't be bothered to learn
two words of German turns my stomach. Nice to see they've all learned
from Homer Simpson that if the locals don't understand your poorly
formed English sentences the best option is to repeat & raise
volume, ad nauseum if necessary. Then walk away & laugh with
friends about how stupid the Germans are. Much like Christians
Christianity, the traveling American supporters make it hard to want
the American team to succeed. I'll enjoy Italy v. Czech Republic from
here in Hamburg & leave the Americans to wander through
no doubt completely unaware of the history surrounding the area in
which the stadium sits.
Pissed off & having a horrible time in Germany? Not at all.
pissed off at the Americans and that Italy blew a great chance to
qualify early. I thought once I got here I'd get in the spirit and feel
gung-ho about the American team's chances. But I've got too much
televised Serie A in my blood now and found myself fervently
hoping for an Italian victory. Combine that with my retro-leftist
politics and, well, see above. I'm off to look for tickets to Czechs v.
Italy and Saudi Arabia v. Ukraine.
Germany hosts the World Cup Finals. I am there. You are not. Which is
why you're looking at these. Or else you're a friend & want to
a look, like at a particularly horrific car crash, or a large insect
overrun by ants. If that doesn't make sense maybe it's because I spent
last night on a train and the night before on a plane. Before that in a
boat, previous to that in moat.
I just flew in Monday morning and boy are my arms tired. Five thousand
miles of flying also accounts for this singularly inimaginative (like
the US team in attack) design. And lack of transition between
paragraphs. And lack of a satisfying ending to this home page