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Tuesday 11 December 2018
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My World Cup runneth over

BC Pires
BC Pires


From BC in Barbados


LIKE “business acumen,” “street smarts” or “nous,” there’s a special world for the kind of intelligence I have; it’s called, “stupidity” and nothing brings it out more than the World Cup, the greatest sporting event ever devised.

The World Cup is so spectacular, I’m not even put off by Putin: I almost don’t even mind the World Cup Finals being held in the world’s leading gangster state (even though Russia is in danger of being overrun, for sheer barbarism, by Donald Trump’s New Fascist America, aka, “the Fourth Reich,” where babies are taken from their mothers’ arms, just like they were on the platforms of Dachau, Auschwitz and Treblinka-Serbibor).

But, honestly, horse (dog/giraffe/quenk/fill in the blank from the Animal world), the World Cup washes away whatever intelligence I may have in the tsunami of my enthusiasm for it. It magnifies my talent for instantly detecting the slightest nuance while entirely missing the blatantly obvious. (I once arrived at a “summer” job on a Monday morning and just knew something had changed; after a few minutes, I realised the hibiscus hedge in the car park had flowered; minutes later, someone else walked into the office and said, “Wow, the building next door burned down over the weekend!”)

My first World Cup moronic moment came when I tuned into the Uruguay v Egypt match last Friday just after the kickoff. There was, somehow, no information display whatever on the TV screen but the commentators kept repeating the score was nil-nil so I wasn’t bothered.

Strangely, both managers used up two of their three substitutions while still in the first half; then they both used their final sub and I wondered, “What are they going to do in the second half?” Then Uruguay scored and the commentators said, “It’s all over for Egypt!” and I replied, aloud, to the television, “No, it isn’t, you fools! They’ve got the whole second half to come!”

Only then did I notice that the little goal symbol showed it had been scored in the 89th minute. In my early morning/World Cup stupor, and without the onscreen score and/or display to correct me, I thought I was watching the first half when I’d tuned in for the second.

I trumped myself for stupidity – and “trump” and “stupidity” should always be included in the same sentence – outstandingly, though, if for a much shorter time, the next day.

Tuning in just after (the real) kickoff in the England v Tunisia match, I was cheering, from the kitchen ten metres from the TV, the team in white, English colours. (When I told a friend I was supporting Argentina in this World Cup and, after them, England, he asked, “And who are you supporting in the second round?”)

Even when Jesse Lingard – whom I recognised even from the kitchen because he was on my Premier League Fantasy team for seven game weeks – missed scoring in the opening seconds and the cameras closed up on him in his red strip, my stupidity kicked in and I thought, “Shouldn’t he be playing for England? I never even knew Lingard had Tunisian roots!”

On Wednesday, when Spain played in all-white against an all-red Iran, it almost happened again.

It’s not me, it’s the World Cup; it makes fools of us all.

But what a wonderful thing it is, this little round football that, for a month solid, can make us subsume all the ugly in the great big world into the beautiful game.

Or almost all the ugly.

Mexico’s hard-won victory against Germany was blighted by its supporters’ notorious anti-gay chant, heard on televisions across the world. And it reminded us all that, even in one of its best moments, the World Cup is being played in the most proudly anti-gay country in Europe.

And one whose world influence is rising and spreading.

The statistical reality is that every team in the competition has probably got a gay player on it.

But the fantasy remains that, if you demonstrate your readiness to beat everyone else senseless who even mentions the words “gay” and “human rights” in the same sentence, that no one at all will figure out that you really wish you could be one yourself.

BC Pires is getting in touch with his touchline side. Read a longer version of this column and more of his writing at www.BCPires.com

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