THE CUP IS FULL
On the fringe fans fought police and one another. On the air commentators salivated over how the
'globalized' World Cup had united divided nations, fostered friendship among rival factions, buried the
hatchet among sworn foes, created a spirit of solidarity, a climate of goodwill, an atmosphere of
sportsmanship. The pre-programmed PR message was clear: The Cup had turned the world into a better
Most of this marketing hype gushed from German PR puppets and TV commentators anxious to sell the success
of the German World Cup as a peace maker, as a bring-together-happening, as a unique event (until
the next event) to the rest of the world. The Cup was an idyll for a world disillusioned by politics, ideologies
and U.S. empire-building. Who was interested in U.S. soldiers murdering and raping in Iraq if one could watch
twenty-two warriors pushing a ball back and forth across a green lawn?
The Cup was a substitute for lack of idealism, the fading joy of consumerism, the absence of a
partisan cause and finally a band aid for the growing numbers of the world's unemployment and unemployable. So
why be surprised if good old-fashioned nationalism also celebrated a bit of a comeback?
Of course down on the field there was little goodwill on show. Not even sacrosanct icons of the
game, among them Portugal's Figo and France's Zidane, were shy in committing nasty head-buts and
late kicks. Elbows and fists flew. Testicles were stepped on, well, at least by one Pearl of the English Proletariat.
A Dutch defender stamped his studs on the thighs of Portugal's young striker. Bloodied faces wandered off for
medical attention. In one match alone (Portugal-Holland) the referee showed 16 yellow cards and expelled
four players, unprecedented in Cup annals. In the final, to top it all, Zidane, the man considered the Cup best
player, head-butted an Italian opponent with the force of a ramrod. Was this not evidence, if needed,
and callous the game has become, not just on the pitch.
There is simply too much money at stake for the players, for the promoters, the sponsors and the
media tycoons who buy the exclusive broadcasting rights. The nation of the winner, so economists have figured,
can expect a marked improvement in their country's economic performance, a beneficial backlash of domestic
and international confidence generated by a Cup victory. This alone would be an incentive for any government to
offer fat bonuses to players who already view their Cup performances in personal cash tags. So why not use a
little extra force to help Lady Fortune along?
As for goodwill and closer ties between nations, German and Italian fans were ready to strangle one
another over comments by media agitators on both sides about Pizza-eaters, Mamma's boys and Teutonic
So where had all the goodwill gone?
Oh it was still there on the air where news clips showed fans from different countries standing amiably together
(before the match), youths running riot in the streets with world cup euphoria after their team won and thousands
partying in public squares, parks and fountains. Not much was said or shown about the parked cars demolished by
'happy fans' the commercial areas turned into battle grounds and 'happy' fans careering around
cities in motor vehicles breaking every traffic rule and endangering every pedestrian.
Three were killed in Paris in post-Cup euphoria that sacked shops and stoned riot police after France won
its semi-final against Portugal, two died in Italy after the Azzurri won the Cup. It was, one gathered, all part of
Some of the dormant evils liberated by "Cup euphoria" were even less savory. While Italy celebrated the
return of the Cup heroes with an urban party in the capital neo-Nazis dubbed swastikas on doors, shop
veneers and homes in Rome's Jewish quarter.
But this simply did not fit into the World Cup marketing message which, like the war in Iraq, stubbornly stuck
to its fake claims of benefits for all who participated. But then what else can anyone expect from our era of
corporate globalization and corporate marketing under the corporate dictatorship of the United States of