he American television network broadcasting soccer's World Cup
had the happy idea of bringing in former great players from around the world to act as pregame, postgame and halftime commentators.
I know too little about the sport to evaluate their work properly, but the multinational cast has offered interesting cultural contrasts. Bob Ley, the American host of one discussion, thought it noteworthy that a Danish player was romantically involved with a baroness twelve years his senior. "I hear she's worth half a billion dollars!" Ley cried.Ruud Gullit
, a former Dutch superstar who obviously thought his role as a game analyst was to analyze the game, displayed great tact at Ley's inane ejaculation. After a moment of shocked silence, he said, "Wellll, I'm not sure it's that important she's twelve years older."B
ut the most emblematic exchange happened when it became clear that the United States would play Ghana, a team it outranks by eighteen spots in FIFA's most recent world rankings
, in the knockout phase. Despite the superior position, American commentator Alexi Lalas
declared with great zest that "The U.S. will be the underdog in the game," to which his German co-commentator Jürgen Klinsmann
as much as responded, "Who are you kidding with that Scheiße
The United States is the world's mightiest nation by most measures, and it is a strong up-and-comer in soccer, yet it defies the world and bravely calls itself an underdog at the World Cup. OK, Alexi Lalas. OK, America. I accept the challenge. If you insist on claiming the underdog role, then follow the tradition of Cameroon's Indomitable Lions and adopt a colorful nickname. May I suggest The Mighty Underdogs ©
ontrast Lalas' joyous embrace of the underdog role with Barry Glendenning's prematch assessments in the Guardian
that "I expect the Americans to dominate tonight ... The bookies make the USA 6-4 favourites" and that "in Landon Donovan [the Americans] have one of the players of the tournament thus far."
(Of course, the U.S. lost to Ghana, so maybe Lalas was right. Visit Adrian McKinty's for more discussion of spurious sports underdog claims
***Did you think
the French team was nothing but a gang of underachieving, fractious, immature cheats and bad sports? You're wrong. They were also paranoid, imperious and contemptuous of their South African hosts, according to this report from someone who was there
.© Peter Rozovsky 2010
Labels: Alexi Lalas, Barry Glendenning, Bob Ley, Jürgen Klinsmann, Landon Donovan, Ruud Gullit, soccer, sports, World Cup