From: James 
Date: 05 June 2002
Subject: Pre Korea v Poland...

... so, there  I am, preparing dinner and half-watching the lead-up to 
Korea vs Poland.

A national anthem starts - singing begins, I'm listening in and not 
liking what I'm hearing.  It sounds like a cat being strangled (or, dare 
I say it, a dog ... no, I won't say it).  It sounds like the crowd is 
singing along with this, this, this ...

Well, I think, I studied music, this is just my Western cultural values 
not accepting (or really being used to) the different tonalities used in 
non-Western musical structures. The eastern use of pure (rather than 
averaged, or tempered) ratios in their sounds.

But then, the noise stops and the ground announcer's voice breaks 
through with a hammer blow of seven words...


What the...



From: Marcelo Weinberger 
Date: 12 June 2002 
Subject: England, Sweden, and defensive football

Those that have followed rss for a while, know that I'm not one of those
"defence is boring" types. Quite the contrary: Italy-Holland, Euro 2000,
may have been one of the foreign victories that I've enjoyed the most
(and I have nothing against the Dutch team, of course). When I listen
some Uruguayans state that "we should have played all the time as
offensive as in the second half against Senegal," I think that's stupid.

However, this forum seems to be full of misconceptions about defensive
play. For many, defence is bad as long as some teams do it, and enjoy
it if it puts Argentina out. For others, it's good defence if you
achieved your goal, bad if you didn't. They are negating the random
components of the game.

So, what's good, enjoyable (for me) defence?

Defence is not about packing 10 men behind the ball and beeing lucky, or
expecting your keeper to perform heroics, or a defensive mistake by the
opponent, or bad finishing.

Defence is about packing your defence to deny your opponent from scoring
opportunities. Defence is about bringing your possibly faster opponent
to the pace you feel more comfortable with, with smart time wasting if
needed (by time wasting I don't mean theatrics, but slowing down the
game). And, of course, defence is creating fast, clever counterattacks 
with which you profit of the space left by the opponent.

So what about England and Sweden? England played an excellent defensive
game: when you count the actual scoring opportunities, they got more
than Argentina. Denied opportunities to the opponent, used Owen in the
counterattack. Deserved victory.

Now, when I think of the Argentina-Sweden game, that wasn't the case.
In the first half, Argentina opened the field from the flanks with ease,
with breathtaking passes from Aimar to Zanetti and Ortega, excellent
build-up... but where was Batistuta? If the cross went to the near post,
Batistuta was in the far post. If it went to the far post, he was in the
near post. How come the ball always found Sorin and not him? To me,
while the Swedes did what they could with lots of guts and fair play,
their "good defence" was mainly poor finishing and a good keeper. Not
to mention the total lack of possibilities in the counterattack.

Part of the second half was a different story. Sweden did much better,
especially at keeping the ball. But here, again, I mainly blame the
Argentinian nerves. The expectations were simply too high, and they
couldn't handle it. Was the media to blame? Probably. When I read a
smart guy as Perfumo writing that they will be champions, and arguing
why, even if I agree with the analysis, I wonder how with all his
experience he can overlook the random component of the game. In the
play-off stages, 90 bad minutes can change everything one way or the
other. You cannot predict your "best" team (if one can define something
like that) to win for sure.

I maintain that Argentina (as I hinted many times) was a superb team
for which the WC came too late. Too late because Veron wasn't Veron
any more, Bati was past it, Crespo and Simeone came form injuries. And
Bielsa is a great coach, who may be to blame for counting too much on
players that did a great WCQ but were in bad form, discounting others
that were on top form (e.g., Solari). But that's something I can discuss
later, when the WC nationalistic furor of "good riddance of the
cheaters" is over. This one was about defensive football.

-- Marcelo


From: Snaps 
Date: 20 June 2002
Subject: England-Brazil: One for the road

If Sol scores tomorrow I'll drink Sol all day.
If Beckham scores tomorrow I'll drink Becks all day.
If Scholes scores tomorrow I'll drink Skol all day.

Thank fuck Seaman is a goalie.



From: Pedro Dias 
Date: 10 June 2002
Subject: _The Un-Goal_, or, "The Soul of a Nation"; containing Laughs, Cries, Moments of Revelation, and Spoilers

Yes, we won, and comfortably.

Yes, we scored enough goals to reshape the group equation.

Yes, we played gamely in the face of fairly brutal punishment by the Polish
defenders (Joao Pinto, take a bow) through the first half; and we played
gracefully in some of the worst weather I ever remember seeing in a World

No, none of this makes us contenders again. Poland are inexpressibly
mediocre, and beating them is no measure of quality.

But I will go out on a limb, and say that we are, in fact, Contenders.

Not because we scored a lot, not because we endured Poland and weather and
Dallas, not because we actually played fairly well regardless.

Because, at the end of the game, we didn't score a goal.

I've checked. Before writing this, I ran the basic point by several friends,
and none of them got it. A couple found it offensive. I don't expect many
here will get it, in fact I wonder whether it really is just me.

Except that in the crowd of sixty or so construction workers I spotted at
least four other people laughing and crying, like I was. And people weren't
screaming like during the goals, but there were an awful lot of smiles...

At the end of the game, Rui Costa tapped a teasing ball toward the unguarded
goal line; a Polish defender he hadn't reckoned with came from his left and
cleared it from the goal line; there was no goal.

Except that right before the little teasing push there was some wonderful
footwork and a pretty cross in heavy traffic and white shirts aboil like a
storm-tossed sea and the ball moving crisply like wakes on a still lake.

And before that there was a series of one-touch give-and-gos to set up the
play in the area that made it look like there was no Poland, and no rain,
and no Hugh Dallas; just a dozen-odd friends out to kick a ball around,
showing off for the girls, making it look beautiful because beautiful is
better than unlovely, and, well, they could.

And that play reminded me why some times I feel sorry for teams that play
sturdy and workmanlike football, and win, and move steadily through the
draws; and why at one time I hated Italy, because there was Catenaccio, and
it was ugly, but it won. Not because I resented their victories (though I
did), but mostly because teams that had been beautiful stopped being
beautiful because they wanted to beat Italy.

And why, though I admired and respected Germany and its technical soundness,
I never could love them, though I loved Brasil, and Holland, and France, and
Italy when they let me.

And why I detested Argentina, because they could be so beautiful, and so
often chose to be ugly.

But most of the time I loved Portugal. Because sometimes it isn't the goals
you score.

And yeah. We're going to kick some ass. I hope.

And I'm sorry if you don't get it.


From: Sheridan Elliot 
Date: 25 July 2002
Subject: World Cup Limericks

AS: I apologise in advance for this post...

Here is the first (and possibly last) instalment of my attempt to tell the
story of WC 2002 in limericks (a task which, thankfullly, was not as
time-consuming as it was pointless.) You'll notice that I've left Group H
open for enterprising RSSers to complete the group line-up.

The Lions' Mane Man (Group A)
A plaintive cry of "It's not fair!"
Was emitted by Monsieur Lemerre
"Not only is Bruno
Now numero uno
He's also got much nicer hair!"

Guess Who (Group B)
The coach cried "I'm losing my wits!
We're taking these bozos to bits
Without breaking sweat
Or choking, and yet
I'm soaked to the skin - it's the pits!"

Guess Who II (Group C)
A Brazilian forward who's shameless
And shall, for the nonce, remain nameless
Though held in disgrace
For clutching his face
Kindly pronounced himself blameless

Marooned (Group D)
A Portuguese w(h?)inger called Figo
With quite a formidable ego
Announced "Here's the plan:"
As the crunch match began
"First Joao goes, then Beto, then we go!"

Stick It Up Your Bollocks! (Group E)
A fiery Corkman called Keane
Created the deuce of a scene
"The grass is too long!"
"The tea is too strong!"
"And the damn shirts are not red, but green!"

Bielsabub (Group F)
A bungling Argentine fellow
Who went by the name of Marcelo
Embarked on a quest
To turn albiceleste
(By alchemical genius) to yellow

Coitus Interruptus (Group G)
In Italy, life is a drag
Casanovas are starting to nag
"It's becoming a bore
Whenever I score
I instinctively look for a flag."


From: Yasuhiro Hernandez (
Date: 2002-07-26 
Subject: Re: World Cup Limericks 

Group H

The easiest group of them yet
Caused many a wagerer to bet
we'd see go Russian through
vodka drinkers to round two
but Marc Wilmots said, "Non! Oleg! Nyet".


From: Victoria Barrett (
Date: 2002-06-26 
Subject: World Cup crash and burn 

It's finally caught up to me -- endless sleep deprived nights, and anxiety
over England's fate, worrying about match outcomes, red cards, and giving a
good account of ourselves against Argentina has left me with a vacancy in my

Since Saturday, when the last match of the day concluded, I've had this
morose cloud hovering over me. Nothing is wrong in my personal life (in
fact, I am in the dear Lord's debt for my blessings this year), nothing
troubles me professionally and nothing worries me financially, the three
most common afflictions of our modern world. So what could be the cause of
my inexplicable malaise?

It hit me. The World Cup is coming to a close, slowly and for a moment
there, unsurely. After almost a month, I and most persons here, will be
deprived of the following:

No more hilarious IRC WC jam sessions with RSS'ers I thought I'd never meet.
No more camaraderie of a group of people dedicated to a single cause and
No more RSS posts to wade through, as a torrent turns into trickle.
No more whining, which to feel morally superior over (let's be honest).
No more feelings of euphoria and paranoia, which to feel addicted to (let's
be honest).
No more WC trolling, which to add to a burgeoning killfile collection.
No more short tempers about our countries' participations (even amongst
No more referee this, linesman that, we wuz robbed, yada yada.
No more scrolling through predictions contests, wondering why I envisioned
Senegal as finishing 30th (d'oh!).
No more 15 second ESPN feed lag, no more mariachi bands on Univision, no
more "azo azo azo"s.
No more, no more...


The next time a World Cup rolls around, I'll be 30 going on 31, a medical
doctor, probably a wife and soon-to-be mother. Korea/Japan 2002 is thus the
benchmark of my youth, and I know it too.

What has helped me in lifting my funk since yesterday is the sure knowledge
that one country close to my family's heart, Germany, will be at the final
this year.

For as long as I've been cognisant of my football surroundings, there's
always been ONE country which makes watching the final match special to me.
Germany, and more recently Brazil, have always given me that irrational
feeling of pride of association, and for that I thank their splendid little

Making some people happier in this world is reason enough to hold a World
Cup. Even if that person isn't me, necessarily.


From: steve d (rushian77@aol.comdelete)
Date: 2002-04-06
Subject: world cup future foretold - how are the prophecies coming along? 

Those with long memories (well Riff in reality) will remember my seminal piece
of crystal (or was it naval) gazing in 1997- how have my predictions fared so
far? Those of a nervous disposition should look away - my comments are
bracketed by **:

1998: France

Striking French onion farmers blockade all ports of entry as a protest
against cheap imports. The 31 other teams are therefore unable to arrive
for the tournament. 

**French airline pilots went on strike in the run up to the tournament
threatening teams entry to France and the tournament itself**

As a concession to the farmers for allowing the
World Cup to continue, FIFA agree to play all games with an onion
instead of a football. For the first time the phrase "put it in the
onion bag" has true meaning. The French squad, being forewarned of this,
had secretly practiced their skills with this gallic vegetable for 6
months thus ensuring they walk away with the Cup for the first time.

**how prescient - Mr Zidane headed the onion in twice**


2002: Japan/South Korea

Chaos ensues at the opening ceremony when a Japanese performing dog
troupe is kidnapped and barbecued in a light salsa sauce by members of a
Korean drum corp. 

**FIFA has already pleaded with the Korean authorities to stop the eating of
dog meat - at least for the duration of the tournament - many animal rights
groups are believed to be organising demonstrations against the practice**

Due to the resultant increase in tensions between the
countries FIFA decide to play all games in the cargo deck of an oil
supertanker moored midway between Tokyo and Seoul ....

**now this is freaky - have Nike been reading the best of RSS? Their latest
advert includes a plethora of world cup stars taking part in a tournament on
..... an oil tanker!!!!!!**

... the first maritime World Cup is won by Liberia who use their intimate
knowledge of supertanker infrastructure to break Africas duck.

**well Liberia not there but if an african team wins it just call me


From: Sheridan Elliot (
Date: 2002-07-04 
Subject: Separating the Tantrum Twins 

Now that a World Cup which, frankly, outstayed its welcome has finally taken
the hint, reached for its hat and shuffled off apologetically into the
night, we are free to concentrate on the more enjoyable aspects of
football - the bitterness and recrimination.

Fans of internecine squabbling will, of course, have been looking forward
immensely to Holland's presence at the finals. Sadly, the Dutch peaked too
soon, collapsing well ahead of schedule during the qualifiers. Thankfully,
this year's ego event did not mirror its on-field sideshow (in which the
quality of football never really recovered from the early elimination of
most of its best exponents.) Instead, two new heroes stepped forward from
the ranks, both turning in displays of petulance that would have graced any
World Cup. The Tantrum Twins to whom I refer are, of course, Roy Keane and
Zlatko Zahovic.

Separating these two to determine this year's champion was a difficult task,
and one which required the assistance of a specially-developed system of Ego
Points. The two players were ranked in three categories, and marked out of
ten for their performance in each.

CATEGORY 1: Timing of tantrum

Roy Keane: Blew his top on the very eve of the tournament, bringing the
pressure of the entire world's media to bear on the Irish camp in the run-up
to their opening game. Keane was successful in stretching the effects of his
tantrum out over a number of days, thus allowing the uncertainty and
division within the Irish camp to fester. Ultimately, however, it proved a
flawed strategy, as the Irish squad was given ample time to re-group after
the crisis ended. He is therefore awarded a mere six Ego Points for this

Zlatko Zahovic: Expertly sandwiched his tantrum between Slovenia's
disappointing (though at times encouraging) defeat to Spain, and the crucial
encounter with South Africa, thus inflicting maximum damage upon his team's
prospects. Timed his tantrum to perfection, and is therefore awarded a
perfect ten Ego Points.

Total points:

Keane: 6/10
Zahovic: 10/10

CATEGORY 2: Aftermath of tantrum

Roy Keane: A disappointing showing in this category, as his team-mates went
on to perform better in his absence than many believed they would have done
with him in the side. 4/10 at best, subject to review only if Mick McCarthy
takes over at Leeds.

Zlatko Zahovic: While his team was never expected to survive the group
stage, Zahovic did at least have the satisfaction of bringing his manger
Katanec down with him. Worth at least six Ego Points:

Total points:

Keane: 10/20
Zahovic: 16/20

CATEGORY 3: The outburst

Roy Keane:

"Who the fuck do you think you are, having meetings about me? You were a
crap player, you are a crap manager. The only reason I have any dealings
with you is that somehow you are manager of my country and you're not even
Irish, you English cunt. You can stick it up your bollocks."

A masterpiece. "You can stick it up your bollocks" is perhaps the greatest
piece of extempore footballing eloquence since Graham Taylor's famous "Do I
not like that!" outburst almost a decade ago. It shares the latter's
characteristic of achieving the maximum descriptive impact with the minimum
of actual meaning. An undercurrent of racism may even be detected. These
four short but, in their own way, beautiful sentences are surely worthy of a
full ten Ego Points. However, like most of the greatest quotes in the
English language, our appreciation of this statement is somewhat tempered by
the actions of pedantic killjoys, who suggest that the comment may be
apocryphal. So 8/10 it is.

Zlatko Zahovic:

"I can buy you, I can buy your house, your family and I can buy that
mountain we were running on in Slovenia during our preparations. You were a
dickhead player and you're the same as a coach now."

The final sentence is eerily familiar, to the extent that one must begin to
suspect plagiarism. However, the B-picture villain,
you'll-never-work-in-this-town-again tone of the speech is significantly
different from that of Keane's less measured outburst, and worth a good 8/10
in its own right.

Final points tally:

Keane: 18/30
Zahovic: 24/30

So Zlatko Zahovic is WC Ego Champion 2002, for which he is rewarded with a
bottle of sparkling Vitriol 2002. Early tips for the 2006 competition are
invited, with special pre-tournament odds on all bets containing the words
"van" or "de."