‘Over the moon’ in June

A World Cup watcher prepares for his trip to Japan. This week: the barbarian hordes head east…if the missus will let them.

Rob Lyons
Columnist

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A World Cup watcher prepares for his trip to Japan.

The barbarian hordes head east…

The UK Foreign Office issued advice in February to travelling England fans (assuming that no Scottish or Welsh people will want to attend now that their teams are out). For those who missed it, here’s a short summary:

1) Don’t have tattoos, or if you do, cover them. Otherwise the Japanese will think you are a criminal. British people, of course, would never make such an assumption.

2) Pay your bar tab at the end of the night or yakuza gangsters will beat you to death.

3) And by the way, the bars are very expensive.

4) They don’t take credit cards (presumably because Japan doesn’t have to live off easy credit, like the Brits). So take plenty of cash.

5) You can be drunk in public because Japanese men do it all the time. They won’t even mind if you piss in the street.

6) But don’t blow your nose in public, it’s considered unhygienic.

7) The Japanese riot police are expecting you and won’t take any shit from you.

World Cup advice – Japan, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

…if the missus will let them…

The problem with the Far East is very much summed up in the word ‘Far’. This has led to disappointing ticket sales, according to the English Football Association (the FA) with only 4000 applications for official tickets. ‘The tournament is a long way away and fans have to commit themselves for at least a week, if not longer.… We’ve found that a lot of men can’t do this because their partners want them to go on a summer holiday’, said FA spokesman Nick Barron in the Sun, describing this in politically-correct terminology as ‘nagging wife syndrome’.

FA blames nagging wives for poor World Cup ticket sales, Ananova, 4 March 2002

…. so they might be watching it at home on the telly…

Ananova reported that thousands of football fans plan to take ‘sickies’ during the World Cup. Forty percent of supporters polled for Barclaycard’s 4thegame.com website said that they planned to phone in sick when England are playing – with major costs to business, rising if England go far in the tournament. ‘This research demonstrates the passion of football fans in the UK’, said Nic Gault of Barclaycard. Or the lack of desire to work among the alienated masses.

While we’re on the subject, here are some other results from the survey: more England fans think that Argentina will win the World Cup (33 percent) than think England will (31 percent) and more would rather have their team win the Premiership (54 percent) than see England win in June (35 percent). Where’s the patriotic pride, eh?

Workers ‘planning to take sickies to watch World Cup’, Ananova, 18 January 2002

Sexy Sven to be next King?, 4thgame.com survey

…unless the boss provides a telly instead…

BBC News reported that employers are being advised to go easy if people skip work to watch games. Instead they should take a flexible attitude, install TVs and give people breaks while the games are on. Strangely, the Football Supporters Association (FSA) have suggested that productivity might rise if employers allow workers to watch games. ‘The draw of World Cup matches, either in the flesh or on television, will inevitably prove irresistible to a lot of fans’, says Kevin Miles of the FSA. ‘Good management involves flexibility.… I am sure an understanding approach by employers towards their workers’ football needs could prove dividends in future productivity – providing of course that results go the right way.’

Ah, for the good old days when a sacking for watching telly at work could provoke an immediate walkout. That’s when England had the best strikers in the world.

Working solutions to football fever, BBC News, 10 February 2002

…but they shouldn’t expect to have a pint while they’re at it.

So much for the idea of extending the licensing hours during the World Cup. The idea was going to be that we would be able to enjoy a pint with the game, even if the game was in the morning before pubs normally open. However, the first application for extended opening by a Banbury publican was given the red card by local magistrates, according to Football365. ‘As far as the association is concerned we do not see watching football on TV as a special occasion’, said the Magistrates’ Association’s Jenny Bracey. Apparently, it wasn’t allowed in 1978 and until more up-to-date advice is offered by the authorities, the existing guidelines still stand.

Cue rant from Danny Kelly on the same site: ‘The game is now a huge industry, generating vast revenues for the national coffers and followed by a great swathe of the nation, but it is still regarded, because of where it came from and its popularity on council estates, in much the same way as public bar knees-ups and cock-fighting.’ He then goes on to point out some of the other changes in British society since 1978: ‘crucially, the pubs opened for about 37 minutes per day. The clubs where toffs quaffed Napoleon Brandy and buggered bootblacks had licenses to sell alcohol round the clock; the working classes were expected to be grateful for a few snatched seconds in which they could slake throats parched by 17 hour shifts in the bitumen mines.’

Typical New Labour organisation, though. Announce the policy before you get it sorted out with all concerned. Piss-up in a brewery, anyone?

Spoilsport magistrates ruin World Cup, Football365, 19 February 2002

Time For World Cup Booze Killjoys To Join The 21st Century by Danny Kelly, Football365, 22 February 2002

No dogs allowed

There’s been plenty of coverage of the Korean habit of consuming dogmeat already. Sepp Blatter and Brigitte Bardot have already caused enough trouble, as I have noted before (see Dogs dinner in South Korea). Since then, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has managed to recruit the support of such philosophical luminaries as Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Jamie Redknapp to call on the Koreans to be nice to their cats and dogs.

While dogs disappear from the menus, they are also disappearing from the front line of law enforcement. The Koreans have taken to putting pretty women at the forefront of any confrontations with hooligans. Presumably on the basis that no gentleman would strike a lady. It seems to work, though, but what are they going to do with all the pensioned off hounds? Maybe after the tourists go home, there’ll be a little à la carte Alsatian going in downtown Seoul.…

England players plead with Korea over dogs, Japan Today, 22 February 2002

D is for Dogs by Pete Cossins, WorldCupRivals.net, 16 November 2001

Tooled up

South Korea has decided that it can’t take any risks with terrorist attacks at the World Cup. In addition to jets patrolling the skies over the stadia, portable land-to-air missiles will be deployed. Are these just to stop incoming planes or will they use them against obstreperous fans?

Land-to-air missiles to be deployed at World Cup stadiums, Ananova, 11 March 2002

Stamped out

Germany has produced a set of commemorative stamps featuring all the previous World Cup winners – except England. Andrea Acker, the designer of the stamps, explained, ‘It was a great honour for me to be selected to do this international project. Of course I knew that England was also a winner.… But we could not include them because they would have wanted the Queen’s head on the stamp, and that would have meant it did not fit in with the set, so we had to leave them out. It was their own fault’.

At last the Germans have a convincing response to the English barracking of ‘Two World Wars and one World Cup’. It’s ‘Three World Cups and a Commemorative Set of Stamps’. The new forms of international rivalry are many and varied.

Germany’s World Cup winners stamps miss out England, Ananova, 15 March 2002

They think it’s all over…

…it is now, at least for Kenneth Wolstenholme, who died on Tuesday 26 March. He’s the man who was commentating for the BBC on the World Cup final in 1966. The fact that this is easily the most famous piece of commentary in British sport is a sad indictment that England haven’t won a World War or a World Cup for some considerable time.

Voice of ’66 dies, Ananova, 26 March 2002

Thanks to Duleep Allirajah, David Dunn and Geoff Kidder for story suggestions.

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