The first stage is done, as is the Round of 16. For 19 consecutive days the beautiful game has dominated news channels, social media, and yes, also a bit my life. Now that we are about to roll into the quarterfinals, after two footballless days, it’s a good time to share some observations.
Although the continent had high hopes, African football was not energized enough by having the final tournament in Africa for the first time. South Africa missed a chance to go through, Nigeria failed, Cameroon and Algeria were almost invisible. And from Cote d’Ivoire, despite being put in a group with Portugal and Brazil, could not impress. Only Ghana suvived until now. And they have a chance.
For the outfitters of the teams, Adidas has been most succesful so far. With 4 teams in the quarter finals, and sure to have 1 in the final. Nike and Puma both have 2 teams left, and are already sure to both have 1 in the semis. More stats: Africa has 1 team left, Europe 3 and South America 4.
The big stars haven’t yet displayed their magic. Cristiano Ronaldo could not really impress, Kaka had brilliant moments, but his 2 yellows in one match were his most memorable moment so far. Messi tried, but was cut down so far, with the negative extreme being Greece, how had 3 players trying to kick him whenever he had the ball. At least, so it seemed.
No, the biggest star of the tournament is not a player, nor a coach. Not even a referee. For me, the star of the tournament so far is the Vuvuzela. The monotonous blaring coming from the tv with each game makes one feel as if being in Africa itself. Even in the northern half of Europe. A quick look around the internet reveals that there is no Messi-button available for YouTube clips now, but a Vuvuzela button that adds the sound of Vuvuzela’s to the clip in question. And it’s not Ronaldo acting as the little yellow man to place on the map in Google street view, they simply gave him a Vuvuzela.
Then, there is the discussion of referees and technological aids. I think, that the referees showed that, just like the teams, some are skilled enough to act on this stage, and some are simply not. When the better referees are on the pitch, there is no demand for technology. For me, that is a great indicator that FIFA needs to invest in the human factor more than in technology.
Anyway, this Friday, we’re going into the quarter finals, kicking off with the match between the Netherlands and Brazil. As a true Oranje fan, I truly believe we have a chance against this Brazil.
Oh, and if you think African football, or Africa in general, should benefit from the worldcup, many special actions are going on. By sponsors, the FIFA, the teams (like the Orange Cruyff Court) and several charities. But, you can also act yourself, by supporting the football academy Right to Dream in Ghana through JustGiving: http://www.justgiving.com/ChangeThroughFootball.