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Steve Braunias' World Cup Diary: day 7

Jun 19, 2014 Sport


What They Look Like
What To Expect From England
What The Experts Think
What We Now Know

What Happened In The Weekend
What We Can Say About New Zealand





I’m backing Germany to win the World Cup. It’s only fair as they get so grumpy having to work hard paying tax to fund the lazy Greeks and Spanish, so winning the World Cup would cheer them up a lot.

Of course a cheerful German is still much more grumpy than a pissed-off Kiwi, but just like poverty, it’s all relative.

I’m hoping Sami Khedira will score the winning goal for Germany in the final, as it will lead to celebrations throughout the Muslim world, and stop the civil war in Iraq.

Also it would means lots of close-ups of Lena Gercke, who is one of the smarter wags.



I lived in London for five years, so I’m more or less obliged to support England and that’s been a pleasant surprise. Their goal just two minutes after Italy had gone up was a thrilling moment — and I thought they were good for a penalty to equalise in the second half.

Gary Lewin’s celebration injury was Twitter glory.

But mostly – actual pace and skill on the wings! I don’t think they can afford to drop Rooney but he doesn’t seem in any danger of scoring either.

And Brazil – are they feeling the strain? They look to be labouring, and Mexico looked like a swarm of angry red ants in defence against them. Maybe they’ll come right.

I also like the spray can.



Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

My brain says Brazil, my heart screams Tyrion Lannister.

Seen any heroes or villains so far?

Why are the commentary team on TVNZ so obvious and dull in their commentary?

Is football a socialist paradigm, a worker’s collective, or a capitalist model, which rewards individual excellence?

It’s an opiate for the masses that distracts them from solidarity against hegemonic power structures ruled over by a corrupt sports bureaucracy who make drug cartels look civic-minded.



Who d’you think will win the World Cup?

Germany is looking pretty good.

Have you seen any heroes or villains ?

Wayne Rooney is an ugly bloke, isn’t he.

Is football a socialist paradigm, a worker’s collective, or a capitalist model, which rewards individual excellence?

Football is the perfect capitalist model. In theory, every team could win it, couldn’t they? Oh my god! Costa Rica beat Uruguay! Goodness! Costa Rica could go all the way!

That’s football giving false hope to the proletariat. Give them a slice of glory and watch them gobble it up and be satisfied.

But then by the end of the tournament, the elites (Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Argentina) will rise to the top and take it away. Because screw the poor. Screw them. It’s as if Milton Friedman designed the tournament.



Who d’you think will win the World Cup?


Rutherford Primary School



Is there a World Cup on? Football? I’m too busy playing a combination of House of Cards and Game of Thrones in the truly best game there is on this planet…politics.



I’m sort of missing the vuvuzelas. That surprised me because I used to get annoyed by them. Is that the Stockholm syndrome, or is it more like the feeling Labour voters have now that they look back fondly on Phil Goff and David Shearer?

However thanks to Liam Gallagher’s description of  Wayne Rooney (“A fucking balloon with a fucking Weetabix crushed on top”), I’ve become obsessed with looking for players with rugs.

Pirlo’s hair can’t be real. I imagine that there’s one of those rug stands in the dressing room. Half the German’s are clearly bald underneath – for this reason I think they will win.

Paul Casserly on



Soccer in the US has exploded in the last few years and the interesting thing is while the Hispanic population are certainly involved, its the college-educated market, male and female, that’s completely embraced it. Every person in the US under 30 has a favorite Premier League team. That that team is usually Spurs I put down to a cultural quirk.

So the World Cup has been heavily promoted by ESPN/ABC/Disney here with startling results. I’ve been able to watch live coverage of games on my phone, in HD, while driving in traffic. It roars from every bar, from every TV that has a live feed in the malls, and the other day I caught a 25-year-old girl from Texas in our office watching a meaningless Pool H game on her desktop.

The timezone has certainly helped, the Brazilian setting looks great on our huge TVs, and the US team being halfway decent is also a factor. But when ESPN reports they’ve served almost 100M streams on top of the excellent TV and radio ratings, the World Cup has (finally?) arrived as a media force to rival the Summer Olympics in this most fickle and difficult of markets.

Mark Tierney on AudioCulture



It’s true, isn’t it, that Andreas Pirlo, the genius who masterminded Italy’s 2-1 win over England, is in possession of a very wise, grave, profound beard.

I picture Recife, seventy-two hours later. The night is still and oppressively warm. Joe Hart is standing on the balcony outside his hotel room, scanning the horizon, still looking for the ball from that Pirlo free-kick.

What is football?

I’m sad that we lost Socrates before this World Cup. He gave that great interview to the Guardian in which he described Brazil 2010 as a reactionary team, because of the worldview of coach Dunga (a gaucho, from the South). This is what a Marxist, Pier Paolo Pasolini, said once (I’m translating it for you):

“Football is the last sacred performance of our times. Deep down it’s a ritual, even though it’s a form entertainment. While other sacred performances, including the holy mass itself, are in decline, football is the only one we have left. Football is the modern theatre.”

Bat, Bean, Beam



I gave up Twitter for the World Cup. What with Hong Kong midnight, 3am and 6am kick-offs the last thing I was going to be able to handle were the numerous left-wing agitators talking illiterate economics and politics all day.

In HK the matches are on free TV. Some of them. I turned on wanting to watch Argentina at 6am Monday. The match wasn’t on. Instead we had a HK stock exchange update in Cantonese. I was about to put my Gray Nicolls Powerspot cricket bat through the TV. I haven’t touched it since requiring ligament and tendon surgery that’s ruined my right hand. Instead I took a less expensive option of smoking a cigarette. With my left hand. In my bedroom. Right under the fire alarm. Which didn’t go off. A pack I bought in Thailand in early 2013. Then I remembered I don’t smoke. I lack the commitment required to be addicted to even cigarettes.

I watched Germany v Portugal at midnight and had a 7.45am flight en route to Shanghai. I slept most of the way. I woke up in a nuclear sized grump that I’d missed the best part of any travel – the hours of free champagne.

I found the channel showing the football at my hotel in Shanghai. I turned it on. The commentary is in Mandarin. Wankers. The wifi is too slow to live stream it. The hotel concierge directed me to the nearest sports bar. Hooters.

England play at 3am tomorrow. Fuck. My flight leaves at 7.30am. I will take a pillow from the room with me in the hotel car for the 45 minute ride. Lucky for me it’s a very nice large car with a comfortable back seat.

I’m off to Thailand at the weekend where the coup curfew was lifted the day the Cup started. Surprise. The junta shouted free to air Cup coverage then realised many Thais couldn’t go out to watch the matches as the curfew was in place. Idiots. As a keen follower of Thai coups, I planned this weeks in advance when the hotels dropped in price to cheaper than a motel in Bulls.

I want Ronaldo and Messi to dominate and entertain us and Spain to win. But they won’t.

Germany will.



Interesting. I know of, follow on Twitter, plus “like” that acerbic, bookish, anti-authoritarian, contrarian Steve Braunias from watching him on Emily Perkin’s sadly finished The Good Word TV show, and even have his yet unread NZ Post Award winning Civilisation on a shelf waiting to be read – I’ve been on a novel stint for some while – but, I can’t see how that Steve Braunias would even know of me, or that Metro would be interested in my opinion on anything.

Thus, two problems:

1. I’m assuming from my general paranoia this a spam, albeit a detailed one, and I have no idea what the schema is – and yeah, for the hell of it I often reply to spam;

2. As much as I would love to give an opinion to Steve Braunias and Metro on most things, particularly the nature of the Orwellian tax surveillance states we live, and the need for minarchy, if there is one topic I am least qualified to speak on that would be football.

And given the only way I suspect you can have my email is via my blog (when I think about it), I would end in noting my views on teams sports are a personal matter, probably unrelated to my Libertarian politics and laissez faire economics – or perhaps not.

Looking forward to Civilisation, even if I don’t much care for the actual thing.

Life Behind the Iron Drape



I called it. I called it right. On this page last week, I predicted: “Spain – pffft.”

They went and duly did pfffft-all at the World Cup, outclassed by the Dutch, outwitted this morning by Chile. They were hopeless. They were hopeless as a team and hopeless individually, apart from Iniesta, that mighty dwarf who towers above all attacking midfield players in the world.

Pedro was hopeless, and what a horrible, cunning face he has. Costa was hopeless, a Brazilian in a Spanish shirt – what the hell was he thinking? Torres was hopeless, also boneless, a bag of worries and indecisions. “Iniesta. To Silva. To Torres, who has left the ball behind….”

Anyway, to tomorrow’s big game – England vs Uruguay.

I hate Uruguay. Cheats, divers, but that’s not as bad as the fact they wear extremely tight shirts. Grant Robertson might fancy them but they look as buff and demented as gym maniacs moving to loud, bad music at Les Mills.

I like England. They’re trying something new at a World Cup – playing with imagination and flair.

I’m calling it. England 5, Uruguay 0.



For a moment, Tim Cahill was not a footballer. Sure, he may have been standing on the pitch at Porto Alegre’s Estadio Beira-Rio with his boots laced up.

He may have been wearing Australia’s instantly recognizable green and gold jumper, and playing in a must-win FIFA World Cup game for his nation, against Holland.

But at that moment, 1.26pm on Wednesday, Brazilian time, Cahill was not a footballer.

Cahill was a poet. With a swing of his left leg, he turned the unbelievably complex and chaotic into the simple – into the indefinably beautiful.

Cahill scored a goal, drawing the game to 1-1. But he didn’t just score a goal.

The cross from right back Ryan McGowan was a delight that seemed to hang in the air for minutes, before floating down to Cahill.

Dutch defender Stefan De Vrij watched it approach, twisting and turning in his attempt to cover Cahill.

But he would come nowhere near it. Cahill swung that left leg – and the ball shot above Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillesse, whose outreached arms seemed an insult to its perfection, into the goalpost’s top bar – and into the net. A goal with an arc, and beauty, to match anything you’d see from Garrincha, George Best or Marco van Basten.

Something truly special had been witnessed. Somewhere in the noise, to quote Mick Jagger, I’m sure I heard an angel sigh.

Like any great line or piece of prose from Neruda, Garcia Marquez or Kerouac, Cahill’s goal was fluid and unrushed; weightless in the gravity of the situation that conspired to create it.

At that moment, 1.26pm on a breezy afternoon in Porto Alegre, Tim Cahill created something beautiful.

He was a true artist. He was a poet. He was a footballer.

Ben Stanley on Twitter



The World Cup feels to me like a phantom limb, or what I imagine a phantom limb to feel like – there’s a sad sort of ache there, an overwhelming itch, but I know I’ll never connect to it and it’ll never be a part of me because the basic building blocks, the connective tissues, aren’t there. It’s like me and driving a car, or rewiring a toaster, or fixing a fusebox. My lack of knowledge is so profound that it shapes my entire being, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel shame.



Ahhh, football. The beautiful game. Only really ruined by the utter prats who play it.

For what it’s worth, England is my team. Although I have supported the Dutch in the past, and the Spanish.

Come to think of it, I don’t give a flying toss who wins.

In fact, football to me is rugby. Soccer is bollocks.



Football is a childish pastime, full of childish spites and tensions; adults should be ashamed to watch it. Discuss.

I went to a football game at Wembley about fourteen years ago. England vs Argentina. My mates took me. We stood in the sleet for ninety minutes watching a nil-all draw while a bunch of skin-heads behind us screamed “Where’s your islands now?” at the Argentinean players.

But weirdly, somehow it was a fun night.

The Dimpost


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