Saturday, June 17, 2006

World Cup Special #1 - The Jersey Dealings

The FIFA World Cup of 2006 has been running for a week now, as all of you would know. I sat to watch the opening ceremony. It was lavish, grand-scale, pompous, loud and pathetically boring. German teenagers dancing to music ranging from German classical/folk till the modern day hiphop noise. I tried to appreciate it, thinking that maybe there's something beautiful here that I'm missing. Maybe the sound isnt as cacophonous as it sounds across television, and maybe the German girls aren't really that ugly also. But it was. And they were.

The World Cup must be such a huge stage for the smaller countries. I mean, teams like Ivory Coast, Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia dont really expect to qualify till the next round, but are probably happy with making the most of the 1st round games. Looking at teams from such poor countries, my cousins and I were discussing the awe they must feel at playing on such a big stage. Successfully tackling Ronaldinho, getting a goal past Petr Cech - its got to be the highlight of your life if you are minnows of the footballing world.

All players exchange jerseys after the match is over. As a sign of mutual respect, brotherhood and disregard for personal hygiene. Got me thinking - How much do the England team jerseys cost? The jersey worn by Gerrard as he scored that blinder of a goal against Trinidad & Tobago, for example. As it is, England team jerseys are made of this special material and that innovative technology. Special fibres and deo-secreting pockets in the inner layers and all. You know, all the stuff they do to make the best jersey for their best team. So, after the match, a T&T player has a shot to take that jersey. You know they dont care for their own rags. They have their eyes set on firangi maal. Look at the way Dwight Yorke openly treats T&T equipment, I mean!

Hmmm....tsk tsk. Did you notice the way the Trinidad players suddenly came to life after the final whistle? Rushed to get at Beckham and Gerrard before they were taken by a rival from their team. What kind of strategy can a coach from T&T discuss with his players against juggernauts like England anyway?

"Ok boys. Its first come first serve. No snatching or fighting amongst yourselves. Shaka, you stay close to Beckham. Don't - DO NOT - let him get away from you...once the match ends. And Yorke gets the Gerrard jersey.
Ok with everyone? Go boys go!! With 11 jerseys, we make millions back home! Cigars for everyone!!"

What happened next was for all to see. Within seconds of the final whistle, Shaka Hislop and gang had swiftly undressed Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard and Crouch before these champions knew what was happening. One minute they were celebrating Gerrard's goal, and then suddenly everything went black as their jerseys were being pulled out by a trained and efficient Trinidadian lot. The others in their group being not-so-big teams Sweden and Paraguay, Trinidad's World Cup haul had to be restricted to the England team. So they made the most of it. Rumor has it that the T&T players even called out to the English substitutes to come join in the spirit of intercontinental brotherhood and charity, before Sven Goran Erikkson stepped in. He then stepped out, without his coat.

Mind you, its not just Trinidad & Tobago I'm talking about. There are others in on this clandestine money-spinning venture. Teams like Ivory Coast shamelessly chasing after Nistelrooy's (Netherlands) and Hernan Crespo's (Argentina) things. Ghana has made sure Totti and Nesta dont run off the field just like that. Togo is keenly eyeing French jerseys containing Zidane and Henry.

There's lots more happening in the World Cup for sure. Aside from the games and stuff. I'll fill you in. More on it later...

But before parting, I would like to show you this snap of foreboding evil. Didier Drogba, Greedy Pig #1, marks his prey, the innocent Ruud van Nistelrooy after their game. One can only imagine the strength of the death-grip with which the Dutch is being held at the moment, as Drogba's talons move towards taking off his jersey. It is said that the photographer, overcome with depressive emotions, committed suicide minutes after clicking this photograph by consistently poking a sharp piece of ivory against his chest.

PS: All pictures should be seen in full size to appreciate the depth of their messages. Original pictures are courtesy the Official FIFA World Cup website.

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