Like approximately 200 million other people world wide, I watched the FIFA World Cup 2010 Final Draw Show. And given the somewhat wacky and borderline surrealistic nature of the draw itself, it’s probably just as well that I watched the entire thing in Spanish on Univision at Taqueria Maldonado’s in Green Bay, Wisconsin. There was some spectacular entertainment that I happened to miss, like performances by Johnny Clegg and Angelique Kijou, but it was the Draw itself that was just about as strange as any sports program I’ve ever seen. (Note to NBA Commisioner David Stern: your NBA Draft Lottery Selection Show could take a page of out FIFA this book here.)
The stage for the draw was more like a set of for a big wacky game show. I’ll get to the hosts in a minute. Here comes the parade of contestants. What FIFA did, and actually it was pretty cool, was to use some of the top South African (and in one case, Ethiopian) athletes to do the actual picking for the draw. The athletes so honoured were: Olympic 10,000 metre gold medalist Haile Gebrsellassie from Ethiopia; South African cricketer Makhaya Ntini who was the first black to play for the South African cricket team; SA rugger John Smit who I originally thought was a soccer player from the Uruguay team; Matthew Booth from the South African men’s soccer team—when Matthew Booth was introduced and walked out, I thought at first it was Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil; and finally, South African women’s soccer star, Simphewe Dludlu, who wore a stunning mustard yellow evening dress and was completely bald. Since I was watching this in Spanish on a rather low-fidelity TV, I’ve gathered most of this info after the fact.
And now the hosts of the show. FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valke could easily have passed for former NFL Commisioner Paul Tagliabue (a poor-man’s Paul Tagliabue, but none the less…). And then there was his congenial co-host….a stunning blonde in a red dress….and as I’m watching and eating my tacos de lengua, it dawns on me that she is not there just for eye candy…she’s….Actress Charlize Theron!! How the hell did SHE get thrown into this?? And then I realized, later, that she’s from South Africa as well.
But wait, there’s more! While I was marveling at the odd collection of folks on the stage, and wondering why the hell Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil was a part of this….none other than David Freaking Beckham strolls onto the stage looking more like a contestant from a reality show. Yes, THAT David Beckham, and he’s got a focking FAUX-HAWK to boot. Why not a fahking hockey mullet, dude!!? Okay, now there’s David Beckham, Peter Garrett, a stunning bald short black woman in terrific gold/mustard dress, a soccer player from Uruguay, two African athletes, one dressed in a suit and the other dressed like a waiter at a Sun City resort, Charlize Theron, and a poor-man’s Paul Tagliabue. So let the games begin!
The Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 reenactments begin now!
Alright, on the set for the draw are a whole bunch of pots filled with little soccer balls filled with slips of paper. One of the athletes draws one ball for the country name, and another, in this case Beckham, draws one for where the country will be seeded in the group stage. The first 8 teams, who were the top 8 teams in the world ranking have been selected and placed in their respective groups. England is at the top of Group C. Haile Gebreselassie selected USA as for Group C. And Beckham just drew the ball containing C2, which means USA will be playing England and is probably thinking “Well bloody hell….Landon Donovan is gonna get a chance to kick my ass…” And everyone else is thinking, “Ha ha ha American Pig Dogs!! Beckham is gonna kick YOUR ass.”
And as for the cheating Frenchies….
I’m counting on you, Uruguay, to smack those cheatin’ Frenchies in the moosh right out of the gate. June 11th 2010, Cape Town, South Africa. Bring your A game, Uruguay. Get the job done!
I’m counting on you, Mexico, to smack those cheatin’ Frenchies in the moosh. June 16th, 2010, Polokwane, South Africa. Venceremos, Mexico!! You can do it! You you can do it!!
I’m counting on you, South Africa, to smack those cheatin’ Frenchies in the moosh. June 22nd, 2010, at Maguang/Bloemfontaine. You are the host country. You got rid of apartheid (sort of). You certain can’t allow a bunch of cheaters to reign supreme in your land. Give those Frenchies a solid thrashing and send them rowing their little boats back to Avignon.
3 and done for France, Group A. Don’t leave the job for Argentina or Nigeria. Get your work done early.
Meanwhile, defending champion Italy, the top seed in Group F is ready to take on all comers. They will easily advance to stage 2 with Paraguay, most likely, tagging along in their wake.
“Mommy!! Help!! We’ve been seeded 4th in The Group of Death!” (translated from Portuguese by M.R. Smith)
Every World Cup, one group is dubbed The Group of Death. This honour goes to Group G. Three contenders, one fairly solid pretender, and only 2 will be moving on. Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal, & the pretender, North Korea. Yikes!! Not only do you have 3 top teams, but also the 3 best soccer players in the world. Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, and my favorite Didier Drogba from my Chelsea Blues. I will be rooting for Ivory Coast to come out on top here. 6 months from now that is.
Yeh…it’s 6 months away. 179 days 58 minutes and 14 seconds to the strat of the World Cup as I type this. But the whole world is getting chuffed for the World Cup. So why not me, eh?
But for Team USA, the real work begins now. Key players like Oguchi Onyewu will need to get healthy. Landon Donovan will need to stay healthy, and build up his mental toughness to level beyond where he’s ever been before. After all, destiny awaits. We have a solid team…but mental toughness is what it is going to take win in it all in South Africa this summer. I’m looking forward to it.