Posted by: joha5 | July 9, 2010

World Cup Withdrawal & Yearning for the Unattainable

I woke up today and felt like a drug addict in withdrawal.  For the record, I am not a drug addict and don’t ever use them.  I actually even hate taking normal over-the-counter drugs that you can buy at the pharmacy – irrational, I know, but it serves the purpose of my point.  Yet today I ostensibly feel like somebody who is fiending for a fix.  

However, the fix that I am looking for is in short supply.  I have enough to last me about 4 hours over the span of two days this weekend.  Come Sunday afternoon I will be all out.  In fact, my next ‘shipment’ doesn’t arrive for another 4 years.  My high this year was supplied by the citizens of South Africa and next time it will be the Brazilians turn to provide me with what I am hankering for.  Come Sunday, the World Cup will be over and I have no other choice than to go cold turkey…for 4 years.  

While LeBron James was making ‘The Decision’ last night in Greenwich, Connecticut using the Boys & Girls Club of America as a veil to give him the excuse of stroking his own ego and demonstrating how badly celebrity culture pervades national and international sports, I sat on my sofa and reluctantly watched in disgust.  It was the total antithesis to everything I have loved over the past month in watching the World Cup.  Sure, there are football players with gargantuan contracts who will make millions and millions of dollars more than LeBron James will per year but I have never seen a single athlete hijack their sport, the media, and the national consciousness as LeBron James did last night.  After he announced his ‘decision’ I quickly turned it off and sought out some comfort and commiseration from a very old friend – and fellow football fanatic – about how the ‘majesty’ of the self-proclaimed ‘King’, LeBron James, could never, ever, EVER compare to the majesty of the World Cup.    

I'll take this over watching an egomaniacal professional basketball player any day.

Whether you are a soccer fan or not I think it would be hard to deny that the World Cup captures the attention of the global populace like no other event can possibly do.  In the past month I have witnessed the human spirit on display like no other time – other than the Summer and Winter Olympics – in the past 4 years.  When the World Cup starts you can never really know what to expect.  Will there be upsets?  Will players live up to expectations?  Which countries will end the tournament in cheers and which will end in tears?  What effect will it have on the host nation?  What drama will unfold?  32 countries go into the tournament with hopes of lifting the FIFA World Cup Trophy with only one being able to do it quadrennialy.  The stakes of the World Cup are matched only by the passion of the fans. 

I could not have predicted what I would witness over the past month but what I have seen has kept me riveted to my television day in and day out.  I watched the likes of Serbia (Population: 7 million – smaller than the population of New York City!) shutout and defeat Germany, one of the most talented and tough teams in the entire world.  I watched the two Portugese-speaking nations of Brazil and Portugal rival each other on the field for a fiercely contested 90 minute match.  I watched France disintegrate and dissolve from runners-up in 2006 to a team that essentially cheated in Thierry Henry’s now infamously – and hilariously – named maneuver entitled ‘The Hand of Frog’ in the deciding game between Ireland and France last year.  I watched as they refused to train, as they suffered infighting and international embarrassment and condemnation.  I watched how the President of Nigeria – the fortuitously named Goodluck Jonathan – pull his team from international competition for 2 years due to Nigeria’s poor showing in the tournament.  I saw Italy, the previous Cup winners, fail to win a single game and I watched as they tied the much smaller (and arguably less talented) nations of Paraguay and New Zealand.  I watched the Kiwis score their first World Cup point ever as time was expiring which set surely set off celebrations through the country whose population of 4 million is less than their population of sheep.   I watched the Swiss handily refuse the attacks of La Furia Roja of Spain and end up beating them in a tight 1-0 game which marked the first time they had ever won against them.  I watched African hopes rise and die as 6 African countries hoping to be bolstered by playing in the first World Cup located on African soil all fell apart at the seams.  I then watched Ghana lose to Uruguay in one of the most emotional and scandalous matches that I – and surely most people – will probably ever see.  I watched the inflated ego of Diego Maradona dominate the group stages and the early knockout rounds only to be crushed at the hands of the German squad which in turn reduced Maradona to an inconsolable heap of tears and raw emotions on the sideline – his comeuppance occurred as swiftly as his rock bottom.  I witnessed a beautiful England goal – and potential comeback – by Frank Lampard on the England squad that went in, bounced out, and was dismissed by the referees in spite of the millions – and possibly billions – of viewers worldwide who saw the contrary.  This goal-cum-nongoal will almost definitely be the catalyst for the way that FIFA views the use of goal line technology in the future.  I witnessed a United States football resurgence 8 years in the making that was also just as cruelly taken away from them when a phantom foul was called on their way to a 3-2 victory.  As most of us know now, the final result ended up being a 2-2 draw and Americans the country and world over were surely reduced to helplessly screaming at their television sets in pain and agony over what might have been.  Then I watched the United States less than 2 minutes away from elimination score a miracle goal to take them to the top of the table and win the group in one of the more dramatic things that I have ever witnessed in sporting history.  This video here perfectly captures the emotions, the passion, the theatrics, the culture, the drama, and the historical importance of this year’s World Cup.  I defy you to watch it and not be moved…

Come Sunday, this will all just be a memory.  Netherlands or Spain will be the first country since France in 1998 to win their very first World Cup title.  Germany and Uruguay will fight it out for third place.  South Africa’s World Cup preparations and plan of execution will all be over and they won’t be able to host another World Cup for at least a generation.  The players will go home and return to their club teams, the national teams will disband and recover for a couple of months, and new plans for national teams will fall into place just so they can possibly have one more crack at being one of the potential 32 teams to lift the trophy in Brazil in 2014.

I, however, will be an addict hungry for more.  I will be reduced to a fan that wants what I can’t have.  I will read recap articles.  I will grab at straws for more information only to find that I have ingested everything that I can.  The high of the World Cup will be matched by a low just as severe.  And all I can do is quit cold turkey.  I would never wish time away because I have so much I personally want to do and accomplish but you can be sure that I will have a little internal clock that I check in with every now and then that will be counting down towards the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Wanting something that you can’t have and being told that you have to wait 4 years is as unbearable as unbearable gets.  On Sunday I will be reduced to an addict without a fix and I know that nothing will be able to satisfy my cravings for another 1460 days.  4 years have never felt so long.



  1. It is with the utmost sincerity and good intention that I must remind you that it will be 1460 and 1 days, counting leap year, until this glorious time repeats.

    • I will see you in Brazil in 2014…don’t you worry.

  2. You were not alone in your assessment of Lebron James (Who he?):

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