We’re not prejudiced but….perhaps Brazilian TV stations are. Before the Côte D’Ivoire v Colombia match in Brasilia, the cameras went round the stadium showing delightful vignettes of happy fans.
There was a scene of orange-shirted Ivorian woman swaying rhythmically and then one of a group of Colombian ladies doing likewise. The daily review, taking a late morning coffee, agreed with the barman that it looked like jolly good fun up in Brasilia. The focus then shifted to the build-up for the England v Uruguay match in Sao Paulo. The reporter was with a group of men shouting for England. They were shown dancing too. Well, that’s what we assumed. Anyway the barman was not at all amused. “Burros!” I think we understand that.
Pele is ubiquitous. And why not? The boy-wonder-turned-man-genius won three world cups, most memorably in 1970 in Mexico when he was the talisman of what’s still considered the greatest team to have played at a championship. Well, the daily review's grandfather said they were and came round after he'd finished working to make sure his daughter didn't try and send a boy to bed. He said it was part of our education. Well, it did set us apart. In school the next day no-one else seemed to have such a prescient granddad who pulled rank and sat up with his grandson to watch football. That team had it all. In the adverts played before live matches here in Brazil, up pops “the king” in a plug for the supermarket chain Carrefour and also one for shampoo. There’s also one for a car manufacturer – let’s call them Volkswagen - in which he doesn’t appear but some of his most famous moves do. Not bad going. Keeps the cash rolling in, no doubt and he also turns up for post-match comments about Brazil. He stopped playing around 40 years ago but he seems to have never gone away. And the daily review has absolutely no problems with that.
Luis Suarez came back too soon – or not a moment too soon. Timing is the key for comedy they say. Well, it’s helpful for sportsmen too. Luis Suarez didn’t play for Uruguay against Costa Rica. Uruguay lost. Suarez played on day eight against England and Uruguay won. 2-1. England are all but out and Uruguay have thrown themselves a World Cup lifeline. Hang on, we don’t think the review has used that cliché this tournament. Gutted.
Roy Hodgson, Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson …your boys took a hell of a beating. The daily review is unable to wear its heart on its sleeve in the way that Bjørge Lillelien managed to do during Norway’s victory over England in a World Cup qualifier back in 1981. It was an innovative piece of sports commentary. We know, readers of the review are used to that on a daily basis. However, gone are England. And the sad thing is that fingers will point at skipper Steven Gerrard. His mistimed header meant the ball didn’t go forwards but backwards – wrongfooting the England defence and falling perfectly for Luis Suarez. He thrashed past Joe Hart gratefully. That was five minutes from time and there was no way back. Not really a good end of season for Stevie G. His slip let in Demba Ba to score for Chelsea in a crucial game at Anfield as Liverpool were closing in on the title last season. Now this. A nation mourns.
Some questions don’t bring clarification just answers. In his post-match press conference, the England manager had to field a line of inquiry about the substitution that led to the arrival of Ross Barkley and other tactical switches. The journalist addressed the coach as “Mr Roy Hodgson” – so clearly he wasn’t English – and finished by asking: “Do you think the Three Lions were outplayed today?”
“No, I don’t.”
End of. As they say back home which is precisely where Roy’s boys are heading.