Kulturblog World Cup Game

One of my first memories of belonging to a “nation” was in 1982. We were on holiday in France. Every night we would sit around the radio to listen to the BBC World Service to hear the latest news from the Falkland Islands. At 6, I knew that there was a nation that was “good” — Britain — and I belonged to it. There was also a nation that was “bad”: Argentina.

Four years later, England played Argentina in the World Cup quarter finals. Maradona was at the peak of his powers, but we had golden boot Gary Lineker. I was 10 and this was the first sporting occasion that had really caused my heart to pound. Added to the tension was also that sense of nation, and the delicious fate that had paired England and Argentina. Argentine fans burned Union Jacks and vowed revenge for the sinking of the Belgrano; the small contingent of English (the game was played in Mexico) proudly held aloft their St. George’s crosses.

Five thousand miles away in England, I sat and watched. We lost. I was heartbroken. Not just because we had lost, not just because we had lost to the Argies, but the manner of the loss. This was the game of Maradona’s infamous “hand of God” where he impishly hand-balled the first goal. We lost, but that little devil robbed us. At 10, I knew heartbreak and hatred.

Such is the allure of the World Cup. Americans know the agony of sports (Rusty’s pain over the Seahawks’ Superbowl defeat was terrible indeed), but link that pain to patriotism and you have the crucible of pain and joy that is the World Cup.

My life will be on hold for the next month. I even booked my flights home to avoid missing any games. England are sure to crash out in heartbreaking fashion. Brazil are favourites. The US are ranked fifth. Some tiny nation will bring down a giant. I cannot wait, agony notwithstanding.

Rather than organise a complicated bracket or fantasy league, I’ve created a Kulturblog league on the BBC “World Cup Daq” site. Sign-up, join the “Kulturblog” mini league (#3555), and buy and sell teams like shares. The winner not only achieves Kulturblog glory, but may also win BBC prizes, including tickets to a Premiership game. If you win, come to England and I’ll host you. If you have trouble joining the league, leave a comment.

Come on England! And best of luck to the Yanks.

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55 thoughts on “Kulturblog World Cup Game

  1. Awesome, Ronan! I was in England for the 1990 World Cup when England lost to West Germany in the semifinals on penalty kicks. I still remember the heartbreak AND the World Cup theme song – Nessun Dorma, sung by Pavarotti (appropriate since the 1990 World Cup was held in Italy). Good times.

  2. The Yanks are, as yet, still hopeless. And my ancestral home, Ireland, isn’t in this time. So I’m supporting (the US of course and also) my second home, Argentina — sorry, Ronan…

  3. E,
    Thanks for reminding of THAT awful day too!

    RT,
    The Argies robbed us in 1998 too by getting Beckham sent off. I cannot stand them. Don’t write off the Yanks.

    If you join up, post your username and number here and I’ll put you in the kb league. Should be fun. Remember to not put all your eggs in one basket. If you buy too many Brazil shares and they start losing, you’re doomed.

  4. I remember the 1998 World Cup. Ronan and I had dated and had split up, but remained friends and watched a game together – in a pub or Worcester if I remember correctly!!

  5. oops – in Worcester!!

    and RT – the US is ranked 5th and England 10th – so technically you should get good results from them!!

  6. Those rankings are bollocks, dear. and I well remember that game vs. Columbia. David Beckham scored from a free-kick. Rapture!

  7. We shall see!! I of course want England to win, but I doubt it’ll happen.

    Anyway, I’m signed up as britishbecky ID no. 40203

  8. I was in Brazil on my mission in 1994. All my friends from college had bought tickets to all the Stanford Stadium games. The people in Brazil could not comprehend that I had been living where the World Cup was (you could sometimes seem my dorm when they showed views of the campus) and had left that place to come to Brazil. Many suggested that I go home for the Cup.

    Another odd aspect was that for weeks leading up to the event everyone one the street assumed I was Russian. How did I know this? Because for some reason it is pretty normal in Brazil to be walking down the street and for random people to yell things at you. Like, “Hey Gringo! I hate you!”

    But in the weeks leading up to the World Cup everyone yelled at me that they wanted me to go back to Russia. Then once the games began I was suddenly from whatever country they were playing. Yes, even Japan.

    I happened to be in France for the 1998 Cup and got attacked on the Champs Ellese (sp?) by a guy from Portugal who wanted to steal my Brazil hat.

    Finally, I remember clearly that Brazil won the last Cup on July 1, 2002. We woke up that morning in a Motel 6 in Bridgeport, CN, on the last leg of our cross country move to Boston, and drove the moving truck into town that day. I wore my hat (same one) and my Brazil jersey that day and got many honks of approval walking around Brookline.

  9. My info:
    username: yeastmaster
    ID#: 40344

    I arrived in Brazil in ’98 a couple months after the loss in the final to France. People were still quite bitter. They said that Ronaldo threw the final. Some people said, with a straight face, that he did it for $50,000.

    I stayed up many nights during the ’02 Cup. I had to watch the final in Spanish to be able to watch it live. ABC/ESPN didn’t show it ’till later in the morning.

    This year will be more difficult, since the games are in the middle of the work day, but I’m not going to miss any Brazil or U.S. games.

    Ronan, given that the world rankings are balls, how formidable is the Czech/Italy grouping really? They say the Czech Repbulic is ranked #2, but that doesn’t mean they’re in the same league as Brazil, right? But are they top tier? Should the U.S. be more concerned with the Czech Republic or Italy?

  10. I was in Argentina during the ’98 cup and I was able to watch a good number of games. I’ll never forget Argentina beating England on penalty kicks (sorry, Ronan). The entire country erupted in joy like I’ve never seen.

    We got a lot of grief on the streets after the U.S. failed to beat even Iran in the opening round.

  11. Go Guatemala!!!

    Oh, wait, they didn’t get in. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to cheer on the yanks annnnnnnnnnnd… England (hey, it’s my heritage).

  12. Crystal, you’re in! I’m currently kicking serious butt. ANY MORE TAKERS FOR AN ENGLISH BRUISING?

  13. You might want to review that last comment Ronan – I think you’ll find Crystal is kicking your butt!

  14. random John — I was down there too in ’94. Instead of Russian, they thought I was German. The only thing I know how to say in German is “I don’t speak German.”

    Anyway, that was a hellova party after Brazil won. I wonder if Robert Baggio will ever be the same after that last penalty kick…

  15. I should probably explain more. The first game in ’94 was against Russia. So for weeks leading up to it all of Brazil was obsessed with Russia. After each game their attention turned to the next opponent. I wasn’t the only one that experienced this. Several other missionaries had similar experiences.

  16. Crystal –

    Akismet, the WordPress anti-spam system, thinks you’re a spammer — hence the eaten comments here. Sorry about that.

  17. England is still going up? Crazy. Still, I’m steering clear of that puppy. I did buy Brazil at several dollars lower than it is now, but not enough shares.

    I’m surprised that Germany hasn’t been going down since their best(?) player is injured.

  18. Eh, as soon as England starts to falter, I’ll drop ‘em. Same with Germany, but for now, they are doing very well for me.

  19. Less than three hours. I have Germany shares, which is causing me to experience a peculiar feeling: come on you Krauts!

    Also, I need France to win to reverse their terrible slide.

    This game is seriously doing damage to my hatred of the Frogs and the Krauts. I also have Argie shares!

  20. I wish they let us see what shares others have, and the strategy involved.

    I have a lot of shares (about half of my total) in low-risk high-reward cheap teams: Ukraine, Tunisia, and Togo. When TOGO comes out of nowhere and shocks the world, man are those shares gonna skyrocket. But right now Czech Republic is the only one making me any money.

  21. I wish we could see others’ shares too.

    Germany and England are bringing the bling, but Holland is slowly dropping. But I’m a ninny and I won’t seel, because I see a rebound in the future.

    I was a complete moron last night (okay, sleep deprived) and reversed England and Brazil in my mind, so I sold the good England shares and kept the sliding Brazil ones. Phooey.

    My strategy? Buy low, sell high. ;)

  22. Just remember that people won’t behave rationally. England will always be high (unless they crash out) because this being the BBC, people will buy out of patriotic duty. Keep an eye on the games and bail on a losing team before everyone else does.

  23. I put a huge portion of my portfolio in the United States. A win would have made me rich. Even a tie or a tough loss might have left me even. Yesterday’s lethargic, attack-less, defense-less performance gutted me. But hey, we have that whole pass back to the defense and reset thing down pat! Even great teams can have a horrible game. Italy on Saturday will reveal the true character of the US team. I don’t care if we lose. But we d*#@ well better come out agressive and attack, attack, attack.

  24. I was able to sell U.S. before the stock dropped.

    The weird thing is that stock prices don’t seem to be responding much to game outcomes. Ecuador won and the price didn’t budge. Several other of my stocks have fallen without any seeming rhyme or reason. I suppose this is how markets work, huh?

    Another weird thing, I only have one stock out of ten or so that is worth more now than when I bought it. But I just got a huge dividend check. I’m going to have to read about what all this means. I’ve been winging it ’til now.

  25. And yeah, S.P., U.S. had better pull their heads out against Italy. Ronan can tell you how frustrated I was with the anemic attack against the Czechs. That second half was just brutal.

  26. Yes, those stocks movements don’t seem to correspond to reality. It seems like you have to pay attention to things like win bonuses and dividends. It seems like whenever a win bonus deadline arrives, the shares involved sell off. And the dividends are dependent upon the amount of news coverage. So, ironically, the best team to own last week would have been Paraguay since its dividend was almost equal to England, but the share price was about 1/25th of that amount.

  27. One more thing. To receive dividends you have to hold onto the shares from Sat until Tuesday morning. Dividends are paid on Tuesday morning for the shares that have been held all through that time.

  28. The DAQ is just insane. Brazil wins and loses something like 5. in value. England doesn’t even play and gains 1.5. Only when England is knocked out (my prediction: tough semi-final loss) and Brazil is still playing (my prediction: 6th WC) will the DAQ get even close to rational.

  29. Argentina rules! You Brits should visit our Nation for holidays and open your tiny minds to new possibikities in life… bring a hat since you are not used to sunny weather and since our running water contains fluoride, I suggest you drink plenty of it.

    The King, Diego Armando Maradona

  30. Too bad Poland’s been eliminated. That was the most exciting and best-played game I’ve seen so far. (Although Tunisia/Saudi Arabia, and Sweden/Trinidad were pretty exciting). Most boring match so far was definitely France/Switzerland.

  31. Now that I’m winning our league I can complain about the game without it sounding like sour grapes.

    I think the World Cup Daq would be more fun if it didn’t have the win bonus or dividend side games. It should be a simple stock market game that rewards investment in teams that perform well on the field, and especially rewards investment in teams that perform better than expectations. The way it is rewards picking stocks that will artificially rise because the teams are involved in a win bonus game or because they will generate a lot of press coverage. And most of all it rewards getting lucky by picking the win bonus winners. The way it is it’s still a fun game, but I would rather it be a simple, straight forward stock market game.

    In case anyone’s wondering, my 1461.02% increase over the past seven days puts me overall in 361st position. I think I might’ve broken into the top 50 if yesterday’s Man of the Match was from the U.S. I had all my money in U.S. stock, so my money would’ve almost doubled today if it had gone my way and my 7-day increase would’ve been somewhere around the high 2000′s, I think. That’s what I get for putting my faith in my team. S.O.B.’s let me down.

  32. Here‘s a vote on the top goals of the tournament. Of the top ten choices, I thought Goal J, the Maxi Rodriguez goal in the Argentina-Mexico game was the most spectacular.

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