Allah! Allah! Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp!

by Kieran Healy on June 5, 2006

The World Cup is only a week away, which means there is actually a reason to be in Tucson in June, if like me you (i) want to watch the games but (ii) are too cheap to buy the cable package and (iii) only have a useless old TV in the garage somewhere. (We’re close enough to the border to pick up the Mexican stations.) “Here”:,,1790025,00.html is a self-hating Englishman, deciding to support Germany because English footballers are oiks and English football fans are thugs. At least you’re in the competition, mate, unlike “some countries”: I could mention. (“Here”: is some nostalgia. It’s all we have.) Given Ireland’s regrettable absence, I think I will be cheering for the “Socceroos”:, seeing as my daughter was born in Canberra. The Aussies “have to play Brazil”: in their group. Probably their best bet is to hope the Brazilians will be confused by the Australian kit, which looks a lot like Brazil’s. I’m also hoping that the “U.S. team”: does well, just because it will piss off the footie snobs.

Meanwhile, here are two terrific bits of World Cup commentary, both much better than the now-hackneyed “Gol” guy: a clip in Arabic from “Kuwait vs Czechoslovakia”: in 1982, and one in Dutch from the last minute of “Holland vs Argentina”: in 1998. Both commentaries are out there in the realm of religious/sexual ecstasy.

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Crooked Timber » » Spam and Soccer
06.12.06 at 10:49 am



Delicious pundit 06.05.06 at 1:43 am

Also, via Deadspin, here’s Alan Partridge’s ’94 World Cup Preview. (“The pudding, in this instance, is the football.”)


Chris Bertram 06.05.06 at 2:18 am

From a world cup qualifier (does that count), there’s, famously, this:

bq. “Vi er best i verden! Vi er best i verden! Vi har slÃ¥tt England 2-1 i fotball!! Det er aldeles uuutrolig! Vi har slÃ¥tt England! England, kjempers fødeland; Looord Nelson, Looord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana. Vi har slÃ¥tt dem alle sammen, vi har slÃ¥tt dem alle sammen. Maggie Thatcher can you hear me?

bq. “Maggie Thatcher, Jeg har et budskap til deg midt under valgkampen: Vi har slÃ¥tt England ut av Verdensmesterskapet i fotball. Maggie Thatcher. Som de sier pÃ¥ ditt sprÃ¥k i boksebarene rundt Madison Square Garden: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!”

There’s a link to audio at the bottom of


Kenny Easwaran 06.05.06 at 2:50 am

Does this mean that I’ll miss you in Canberra this year? (I’m there until July 7.)


gail 06.05.06 at 3:04 am

“This”: is a must-have for any serious World Cup fan.


~~~~ 06.05.06 at 6:58 am

“Maggie Thatcher, I have a message to you during your election campaign: We have knocked England out of the World Cup of football.”

In June 1990 I met a political scientist from Brasil, who was still dejected because a few days before his country had been ousted from the World Cup by Argentina (0-1 Caniggia). He complained endlessly about how unfair the result was, but was finally able to see a good side: “At least now our government won’t be reelected!” More recently, several people have rather convincingly placed part of the blame for the political unrest in the Netherlands in 2002 on the failure of the Dutch team to qualify for the World Cup that year. (David Winner pointed out that Fortuijn decided to go into politics on the day the Netherlands lost their final qualification match against Ireland.)

So looking at it from that perspective I went through the list of countries that participate in Germany to see who I should root for. No teams that represent states that illegally invade others, no teams from the coalition of the willing, no military dictatorships, no religious fundamentalists etc. And in the end the answer was easy: Néstor Kirchner is up for reelection in 2007, so I will support Argentina.


otto 06.05.06 at 7:31 am

Lord Beaverbrook! Good to hear he still gets work.


Kieran Healy 06.05.06 at 7:38 am

Does this mean that I’ll miss you in Canberra this year?

Hi Kenny — yeah, we won’t be there till September this year.


P O'Neill 06.05.06 at 9:00 am

Some of the matches are on ABC (US) which even the garage TV should be able to pick up.


Andrew John 06.05.06 at 9:32 am

I watched the 1998 final on French TV. The French announcers did an admirable job of keeping their emotions in check until late in the second half, when their commentary deteriorated into semi-coherent advice to the players on the field (“A gauche! A gauche!!”).


JRoth 06.05.06 at 11:16 am

Further support for #5:

I was in Amsterdam the day the Turks beat Senegal, and Turks all over town were celebrating. In particular, one compact car full of shouting Turks waving flags drove up and down the Damrak. A lone, angry-looking Euro sitting near us at an Indonesian restaurant grabbed his empty wine bottle and hucked it into the street after them. So much for Dutch tolerance.


Thomas Nephew 06.05.06 at 12:14 pm

The USA-Italy match could be practically a home game.


otto 06.05.06 at 12:45 pm

10. Maybe it was Chris Hitchens?
He knew they might later have it in for Hirsi Ali.


neil 06.05.06 at 3:28 pm

I realized that I’m going to be in Brazil during the quarter-finals and, in fact, all the way through the final match on the day I’m leaving.

My first concern is that they may be unable to find a Brazilian pilot willing to take off during the match. My second, admittedly lesser concern is that through some terrible fluke, the U.S. will knock Brazil out in the quarter-finals and I’ll be lynched.

Fortunately I can pass for French in a pinch…

Anyone know whether Brazilian football fans are the kinds who riot when they a) win b) lose c) both?


Carlos 06.05.06 at 3:50 pm

If Brazil reaches the final, no plane, bus, taxi, no ANYTHING will be moving in Brazil by game time.


eszter 06.05.06 at 4:07 pm

So I guess it’s time to pick some teams. Given that Hungary has been pathetically absent since the 1980s (and this is one realm where I would actuallly cheer for the team if they were playing) I guess I’ll pick Switzerland and the U.S.. The latter for reasons you mention and since it’s time they caught up with the successes of the women’s team; the former just ’cause I like that country, not b/c I believe they’ll leave much of a mark.

Kieran – so you’ll be on sabbatical again?


dave 06.05.06 at 4:25 pm

Every World Cup year, a certain class of American journalist can be relied on to crank out a thumbsucker along the lines of “I hate soccer. It’s enjoyed by effete European socialist types who can’t appreciate real sports, such as NASCAR.” and on and on for three hundred words.

I haven’t exactly been looking, but I don’t recall having read any this time around. Has the bubble finally popped on this tired cliche?


Matt McGrattan 06.05.06 at 6:32 pm

re: 15

Scotland aren’t there this year so I’ll miss the repeated joy of being beaten by obscure teams who’ve never qualified before then scoring a consolation wonder goal against one of the tournament favourites.

On the plus side I seem to have had the good sense to marry someone from a country who have a semi-realistic chance of doing well so I can have a chance of supporting a team beyond the first round.


nick s 06.05.06 at 7:27 pm

Who’s the Dutch commentator? Is he the one who does the EA FIFA 06 track? (I switched to the Dutch commentary after getting sick of the English one.)

Has the bubble finally popped on this tired cliche?

Nike got its retaliation in first by making Jim Rome the figure of fun in a commercial. The usual suspects came out a couple of weeks ago — Keith Olbermann, for one, who can’t bear something interrupting the period where baseball is traditionally the only game in town — but they may well have used up all of their ‘low scores and riots’ jokes in advance.

Sports Illustrated gave the cover to the US team (and thus cursed it). You’ve got more intelligent sports journalism, and blogs from the big papers that presume a level of knowledge and engagement that I certainly didn’t see in 1998, when I was in the US for the first half of the tournament.

The ESPN/ABC commentary team is rubbish, though.


DonBoy 06.05.06 at 9:16 pm


Rob G 06.06.06 at 9:45 am

“The ESPN/ABC commentary team is rubbish, though.”

I like Seamus Malin, but you can wrap Tommy Smyth in an old onion bag and toss him in the Irish Sea.


Dan K 06.06.06 at 3:50 pm

Aah, the Bergkamp goal. That one is sublime. The commentator’s reaction is just right: alert, disbelief, ecstatic repetition, scream, pointless vocal representation of exquisite play.


stostosto 06.06.06 at 6:05 pm

“Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp! Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!”

Extremely articulate!


Randy Paul 06.07.06 at 6:57 pm

Tilde Man,

In his autobiography, Fernando Henrique Cardoso attributes Brazil’s 1994 WC win as a factor in his being elected president that year.

Thomas Nephew,

You’re absolutely right. I graduated from high school in Kaiserslautern in 1974, the other time the WC was in Germany. Kaiserslautern was not a venue at the time.

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