Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup 2010- Putting the 'I' in Team


I have been closely following the World Cup this year, as I often do. Once you put national jerseys on in any sport, I become infinitely more interested as many of us do. Every four years, North America tunes in to football/soccer and picks apart the aspects of the game we don't quite understand (The excitement when there are so few goals, lack of replay, the offside rules, the terrible diving and the ties).

For the first time, the World Cup is in Africa, South Africa to be exact. Do we need to have a world sporting event in a place that can't afford the 9 soccer stadiums built, that have cities so unsafe reporters (e.g. Stephen Brunt) are advised not to walk even three blocks without armed escort? That's a moral dilemna. A struggling population has embraced the World Cup, but it's like enjoying a wonderful meal before seeing the final bill. Nobody on this continent will be around for that moment of realization.

Yet we still love the World Cup, and watch it, and continue to support it. It seems like nothing can turn us off this event. We even seem to enjoy the drama of teams self combusting in the middle of the tournament.

Two games in and already teams are turning on each other and their management. Most notably is France. Les Bleus have seen a star player expelled from the team, a captain benched for game three, a player boycott of practice, and several admin and players publicly turning on their embattled coach. Raymond Domenech is certainly hard to love, and hasn't been shy to bash his players that he picked himself. What a mess after two games!

France is not alone. England to be on the verge of collapse and mutiny, less than a week after everyone sang the praise of their coach Capello. Host South Africa's players are yet another team questioning their coach.

Realistically, France benefited from an illegal goal to make the tournament, and they are not the same team that went to the World Cup Final in 2006 and won in 1998. Anyone remaining from those winning squads is four years older, and no replacement has been found for retired star Zinedine Zidane. England is feeling the heat from a soccer mad country, but they seem to be simply not good enough. And South Africa, how are players on the 83rd best team in the world complaining about their coach? They should be glad to be the host, and to have scored a goal!

What happened to 'Praise in Public, Scold in Private'? Everybody seems to be so quick to blame someone else for results that they haven't bothered to finish the tournament as a team. To me, that is a far worse crime than failing to perform.

As ultimate teams (both domestic or international), selfish finger pointing strife mid tournament is a terrible distraction that has very little chance of helping the situation. Commitment to the team, to the game plan (no plan works unless all are on board), and to the leadership is crucial to being a good team member and a person fans and teams can respect.

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