Loser – Ashley Cole
Given the turmoil in the England camp, it seems harsh to pick on an individual …. so who better than Ashley Cole? It’s true that he was one of the better performers in the England squad, but then he has to go and ruin it all by allegedly texting a friend that he hates England and its people. What is so baffling about him is that he is clearly surrounded by highly paid agents and advisors as well as an entourage of friends but nobody seems to be asking him whether he really thinks it’s a good idea that his autobiography should feature the infamous passage about feeling sick at only being offered a contract worth £55,000 a week or that he should text women he’s picked up in nightclubs to ask for pictures of their body parts or that his reaction to being dumped by the nation’s sweetheart should be a trip to the local nightclub to pick them up in the first place.
Winner – Bavaria Brewery
Dutch brewers Bavaria (I don’t know why either) couldn’t believe their luck when FIFA went bananas about their publicity stunt of sending 36 orange-mini-skirted blonde women into a match. FIFA worked with the local police to arrest the women before somebody pointed out that it was giving the company the sort of PR the official sponsors Budweiser could only dream of. Maybe the call came from Budweiser.
Losers – France
At least England just stuck to blaming the team. France went into a collective meltdown as the French squad under Raymond Domenech made complete arses of themselves. President Sarkozy made a public statement and sports minister Roselyne Bachelot said: ‘I told the players they had tarnished the image of France. It is a morale disaster for French football. I told them they could no longer be heroes for our children. They have destroyed the dreams of their countrymen, their friends and supporters. The government has to intervene as the reputation of France is at stake.’
Winner – Paul the Octopus
Or rather the Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium who have a real life draw on their hands now that their psychic octopus is world famous. It’s such a great story it’s a shame to point out it’s a load of nonsense.
Winner – South Africa. Oh, what the hell. The whole of Africa
Before the tournament, many people appeared to be predicting that there would be problems with infrastructure, crime and organization. They were all wrong and the tournament has been a great success with no more problems than any other. The atmosphere appears to have been superb and the event inclusive for a whole continent.
Winner and Loser – David Beckham
Although it was never entirely clear what exactly he was doing there, Goldenballs spent far more time on camera than any member of the coaching team with the exception of Fabio Capello. Beckham has now found himself associated with the England World Cup bid debacle and the England actual World Cup debacle. Brand Beckham appears to be untarnished by these associations, but for how long?
Losers – The FA
Clearly unable to do anything right, in the space of a few weeks the FA managed to lose yet another Chief Executive and Chairman in acrimonious and embarrassing circumstances, fouled up its own bid for the 2018 World Cup (before roping in David Beckham as the face of the bid in the apparent hope that people would forget about it all because he looks good in a suit), offered a very generous new contract to a manager before he had proved he was worth it, lost a lucrative sponsorship deal with Nationwide and was dubbed ‘unfit for purpose’ by former sports minister Richard Caborn. Is anything likely to change? Given its track record and its ongoing refusal to implement the recommendations of the Burns Report, not likely.
Winner – Football
While previous World Cups have often been marred by fan violence and unsporting behavior from the teams, this one seems to have been played out in the right spirit on and off the field, even allowing for the involvement of France.
Losers – The makers of the Jubulani ball
There have been more misplaced passes in this World Cup than any of the previous four tournaments, causing some commentators to complain that the Jubulani ball very nearly ruined the tournament. Even Craig Johnston who set up Adidas’s research lab in Germany has written to Sepp Blatter to complain that “football is all about texture, flavour and colour. That has been taken away by a ball sanctioned by who? Fifa and its sponsors. They may have been rewarded by making tens of millions of dollars profit, but the result is they have removed the art and craft from the game. If a sponsor came into your office before the World Cup and said: ‘We are going to give you a new, perfectly round match ball, the players won’t like it at all, there will be more mistakes made than in any other World Cup, there will be fewer goals scored, fewer passes completed, less control by players and roughly 70% of shots on goal will go wide or way over the crossbar.’ What would you say to them?”
Winner – The makers of goal line technology
Ahead of the World Cup, FIFA President Sepp Blatter had claimed that he wouldn’t introduce technology to major football games while he was in charge. That all changed when Frank Lampard’s goal was missed by the officials in the game against Germany. Although technology would not have changed the outcome of that game, it was clear that it might well do at a crucial point in another. On past form Sepp Blatter may try to bury the issue once the World Cup is a memory, but it’s inevitable it will happen one day.