The 2010 World Cup ended with victory for Spain who admittedly made very heavy weather of it losing their opener to the Swiss and hardly impressing in their other matches. However despite this lack of flair they were the best team in the tournament and it will go down as a victory for football. Holland who will feel slightly aggrieved due to the extra time refereeing decisions changed their tactics for the final and had they won it would not have been because they had played the “beautiful game”. They are being criticised for their aggressive play, but anyone who grew up in the 1970s will if looking back realise the majority of the fouls they committed would never have attracted a yellow card and in many occasions the ref probably wouldn’t have even blown his whistle.
With all the rule changes it looks increasingly like FIFA would like football to become a non contact sport which will take away much of its attraction. You have to feel some sympathy for Howard Webb who had little choice but to award a record number of cards, although this might in turn mean he is remembered as a card happy final ref rather than the one whose dodgy decisions led to the winning goal. At least Howard Webb’s performance will give the conspiracy theorists supporting former FA chairman Lord Triesman’s something to talk about. For the benefit of those who have forgotten this brief piece of headline news Lord Triesman was sacked for suggesting that Spain would win the World Cup aided by Referees bribed by Russia, who would then get Spain’s support for their 2018 World Cup bid.
Despite the poor final the tournament is widely regarded as having been a success and although it didn’t bring forth the emergence of Africa as a major international force it did have more positives than negatives and produced a few surprises.
South Africa as hosts. The whole country threw themselves behind the tournament adding an element of colour and excitement which really added to the event. Even the much maligned vuvuzela added to the atmosphere. The stadiums were all pretty good considering South Africa is still a developing nation and the much feared violence against the visiting spectators never materialised. Overall a great result for a country working hard to make up for its past.
The general competitiveness of the Groups. Despite the careful seeding FIFA employ the groups proved to be exciting and in many cases qualification was only decided in the final games. This kept the interest going and helped produce some nice surprises.
The rise of the Asian teams. Although most neutral fans would have been hoping for a good showing from the African nations, it was instead Asia who seem to be the most likely to overhaul the South American & European Domination of International football. Japan and South Korea both had impressive tournaments and even the lesser lights Australia and North Korea gave us some moments to enjoy. With the Far East fast becoming the World’s economic power house ensuring football is strong there will be good for the game going forward.
The Refereeing. Overall this was generally good although there were several bad mistakes, which in many cases influenced the outcome of the game. The positive which might come out of this is that FIFA will re evaluate the use of technology. With so much hanging on a decision it is no longer acceptable for football to be one of the few sports not to adopt technological help where available
The 3rd – 4th place play off match which eclipsed the final. This is supposed to be the game no team wants to win, however someone forgot to tell Uruguay and Germany this, as they served up probably the best match of the tournament.
The not so positives
The Adidas Jabulani ball. Whatever the makers say this ball was poor and no doubt contributed to the abundance of misplaced passes and the poor long range shooting. Hopefully this ball will be resigned to the annuls of history never to be seen again.
Disappointing performances by the pre tournament stars. Players like Wayne Rooney, Torres, Eto’o, Kaka & Ronaldo were expected to light up the pitch at the finals, however they were mere a shadow of the player who graced their respective domestic leagues and the Champions League. Ok Torres was injured but overall the star names failed to shine big time. It was left to the likes of Forlan, Ozil, Muller & Gyan to give the neutrals something to shout about. The whole French team awful too, but at least gave us something to laugh about with their petulant antics.
The main surprise of the tournament was France and Italy bowing out with a whimper having both contested the 2006 final. Italy were a trifle unlucky, but France were just Abysmal. More pleasant surprises were the superb performances by Uruguay, and a young German team with both reaching the semi finals. Germany look like being a major threat in the 2012 European Championships. Other pleasant surprises included the battling performances by New Zealand, forecast as whipping boys pre tournament but ended up the only unbeaten side, and of course North Korea’s fantastic efforts against Brazil in their opener.
Overall a great few weeks of entertainment with probably the best team winning the trophy, and a few great matches to remember. The World Cup remains the ultimate football competition and the good news is there’s only 3 years and about 11 months to go till the next one ,which will be held in Brazil. Better start saving now.