Friday, 2 July 2010

what does it all mean?

Football, as anyone who has ever read a newspaper knows, gives half-baked pundits endless opportunities to crap on about history, war, social trends, national character and all the rest. It never stops being funny/grim when the Japanese or Koreans are described as industrious ('But Koreans are industrious - they played twice as many first round games as anyone else!' -- 'There are two Koreas, Gary.'), the Germans as efficient, the African teams as joyful, dancing, spontaneous, the Scandics as ice-cool and all the other stereotypes. But people really do give a shit about football, and the concatenation of fan fervour and media reception really does say things about societies, even if it's hard to know quite what.

Holland doing well in South Africa is definitely interesting. Holland is a liberal country. White South Africans, historically, have not been liberal. Especially the ones with Dutch names and background. I imagine that many Afrikaners - whose main sporting passion is rugby - will quite naturally be wanting Holland to win. It's just as reasonable as them wanting Ghana to win, which most black South Africans will, and doesn't make them less wedded to South Africa, where their forefathers have been since before there was an America.

But I'd imagine that black South Africans might well have qualms about the most obvious group of their former colonial overlords cheering on the old country.

**UPDATE** Especially if they had been playing each other in the next round, which prickly political issue South Africa got to duck when Ghana were knocked out on penalties tonight.

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