If you love football there is nothing like a World Cup especially if you have a national stake in the whole affair. Undoubtedly it is the spectacle of the best national teams on the whole planet, in a sport played universally, competing on the world’s stage that brings out such intense global attention. My observation is it brings out the best and worst of human beings. The same spontaneous eruption of national pride in the achievements of footballers flying the national flag is also used to engender xenophobia and pseudo-patriotism. The world cup is notorious for the cynical manipulation by despots, military strongmen and assorted tyrants who have manipulated the event as a cover for human rights abuses and injustices. It wasn’t long ago when dictators ruling Argentina, Brazil, Haiti and Zaire (now the Congo) sustained their rule by exploiting the achievements of their national teams. In contrast, news headlines today are dominated by marches and demonstrations in Brazil protesting against their government and FIFA combining to rip off the country as billions are misspent on world cup infrastructure with FIFA guaranteed billions in profits at the expense of social spending on education and health necessary to raise the living standards of the people.
But I digress. What has been interesting to me is how being a gooner in 2014 causes one to see the world cup entirely different from a fan simply reacting to the fortunes of the national team they support. Only half-way through the tournament, but it is evident after surveying twitter and blogs, that most of us are using the tournament to answer one of the great questions that continue to divide the club during the past season:
To Giroud or not to be?
Despite scoring 22 goals and making 10 assists for club in all competitions last season, Giroud continues to be disparaged in many quarters as not being good enough for Arsenal. Two games into the group stages with millions of gooners pouring over the performances of the so-called world class strikers on show, the issue is far from decided. But Giroud has certainly done enough to justify Wenger’s faith in him. By providing the spark for France’s battering of Switzerland with 1 goal and 1 assist, the Gallic hitman has left many of his critics reeling. In fact Balotelli, the great “black” hope of the transfer whores has been so overshadowed by Arsenal’s Joel Campbell in Costa Rica’s match vs Italy plus the loanee’s outstanding performance vs Uruguay, the terms of the debate has seemingly changed. Many are now wondering whether the club give more importance to bringing back the Costa Rican as a pacy, powerful wideman or take the risk of spending big on the Italian with his risky past and seeming penchant for disappearing when the going gets rough. Meanwhile his current club is already doing as Real Madrid attempted with Higuain last year. Apparently Balotelli’s transfer fee has gone from £25m to about £35m according to Metro (Yes I know how reliable they are). If Campbell continues to perform and Milan gets greedier we already know how this will end.
Meanwhile my English gooner friends are licking their wounds as Roy Hodgson’s northwest experiment with the Liverpool core failed miserably on the fields of Brazil. With nary an Arsenal player making the 1st Eleven, it seems another English myth is worth challenging.
Today’s blog was given to us by one of the Foundling Fathers of Positively Arsenal, my good friend and ally Shotta Gooner (@shotta_gooner )