Is this the worst World Cup ever?

Is this the worst World Cup ever?


OK, so we’ve only had the first week of the World Cup, but let’s be honest, with the exception of the Germany game, most of the matches have been rather disappointing. In fact a few of them – notably Algeria vs. Slovenia – have been shockingly poor.

Is this just a blip? A slow start to the tournament as the players adjust to the altitude? Or something more endemically wrong with the best sporting tournament in the world (and yes, that does include the Olympics; anything with badminton in it will always pale in comparison to the World Cup)?

I’m worried the latter may be the case – although I really hope I’m wrong! Here’s why:

The Hype Machine

The number of column inches devoted for the weeks leading up to the World Cup really inflate our expectations. Then add every brand and supermarket jumping on the bandwagon and from the start of May you can’t move without seeing Fenando Torres’ cheesy grin at every turn.

Oh, and then there’s the politicians trying to get us to like them blurting some bombastic line every two seconds. Even David “I have to admit I don’t like football” Cameron came out with some bilge about how England’s World Cup bid is just like his “We’re all in this together” mantra.

With this amount of hot air it’s inevitable that we will be disappointed by what the World Cup actually delivers. Does that mean it’s a worse World Cup? Maybe not in real terms but in terms of how much we actually enjoy it, the answer is “yes”.

Worse still, the media attention inevitably burdens most footballers with an exceptional amount of pressure. I think this is certainly the case with the England team. Let’s hope Rob Green has helped get that out of the squad’s system!


France and Portugal are arguably only at this tournament because FIFA conveniently seeded the playoffs AFTER it was clear these big guns were in them! Whose fault is that? Probably ours, the fans – at the very least the wider public.

Although we say we want to see the underdogs do well, as long as that wasn’t at the expense of the big teams. We want to see the best players and the biggest nations on the biggest stage, yet we’re also guilty of complaining that it’s become predictable – with the ‘same old teams’.

So, FIFA feel like they have to protect what we want, and make decisions accordingly. Worryingly, it’s all going a bit Superbowl.

Club vs. Country

That old chestnut. But perhaps I have a new spin on it. It’ not that players are saving themselves for club football… I think they genuinely care (even Jamie Carragher). The problem is that the standards of club football are so high that we’re always disappointed that a team of players who have spent no more than a few weeks together can’t play as a team – remember what a difference it made to South Korea when Hiddink had the squad together for months before World Cup?

Club football is also now too big a physical burden on the modern player. So many players are injured or carrying knocks going into the World Cup, it will inevitably affect performances. I strongly suspect that more and more players will be taking a leaf out of Paul Scholes’ book and retiring from international football.

Finally, I would argue that great players like Messi and Rooney have a tendency of disappointing at the international level, because they just don’t have the same quality of players around them. No disrespect to Veron and co., but they just can’t offer the same service as Xavi and Iniesta. Internationals just aren’t “up a level” from the Champions League these days. Maybe the format needs changing? Brings me nicely on to my next point…

Slovenia? Really??

OK, I might get some stick for this, but although I think that we should work harder to ensure the teams that deserve to be at the world cup should be there (not just the ones best at cheeky handballs and eating cheese), I also think that there are too many rubbish teams in the world cup.

The worst case of this was on display this weekend with Algeria vs. Slovenia. I never want to be subjected to a game like that again. Ever.

Perhaps a smaller, shorter World Cup would give all the teams that qualify (fairly!) more chance to get prepared, to the benefit of the tournament?

Honk, honk.

Finally, for the benefit of everyone’s entertainment and sanity the organisers have to ban the vuvuzelas. They drown out all the chants, they make your TV sound like it’s broken, and they were originally invented to scare off baboons!

Just re-read this, and boy do I sound pessimistic!! I really hope I’m wrong and the rest of the tournament is a great success… what do you guys think?

Adam Hawes is the Founder of Schport – a free online service that makes organising your football team dead easy – (he’s also the Gaffer of “Gunshow FC”!).

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  1. Lol! The WC so far has been more like the literal expansion of WC! Dull, uninspired football with thousands of angry bees in boxes instead of spectators! Let’s hope the on field performances are just a case of opening day jitters!

  2. maybe the English team doesn’t deserve to be there…they played appallingly and always disappoint.

  3. the events have been excellent and very well supported and the fans have been terrific but the football very poor so far.

  4. Its high time that people like Adamhawes accept that Africa can also do good in the eyes of the world!!!!!!

  5. the opening game between za and mexico was thrilling! the english game was a yawn… reminds me of manu on a bad day at the office. totally agree on the stupid vuvuzelas – it’s just noise with no differentiation between teams.
    and henry appealing for handball… what a bloody hypocrite!

  6. Yes, it was an alright opening game, with a cracking goal. I have high hopes for Côte d’Ivoire vs. Portugal. I hope I’m not disappointed. Failing that I will do the best thing and actually play football instead of watching it this evening. The former never lets me down – although I may let my fellow team mates down – occasionally – with a poor performance!

  7. I’m sorry to bust your conspiracy theory regarding playoff seeding, but it was always the case that they’d be seeded this time round. It’s just that no-one noticed until the end of the group stages.

    Look at this article on from October 2008 (i.e. right at the start of the qualifying campaign):

    It’s clear that seeding was always the plan.

    I don’t agree with it in general, but to say that Fifa did a last-minute switch is just wrong.

  8. Get rid of vuvucrapzella…South African will go down in history as the nation that ruined the game ecause of a stupid instrument…what gets me though is that South Africans believe that monotonous angry beehive noise is “beautiful football music”…go figue…Ban the damn things or TV stations provide a filter or something.

  9. You’re not wrong, it is the worst ever and I’ve watched since 1962.The decision to use this ball should reversed as it’s contributing to the poor show.So many crossfield passes are ending up over the head of the recipient.The early poor show all round should convince any doubters that there are too many below par teams who will play, and are happy to settle for, a draw…even a 0-0 one.Cut the groups back to how it was, get rid of the also-rans.

  10. I blame the ball.. the amount of passes going astray, shots ballooning over the bar, and goal keeping errors. All the teams apart from Germany have looked like amateurs, when clearly they are not.

    It is quite shocking really, and a shame for South Africa to have their world cup ruined by a ball.

  11. 13 games played so far, and in only 4 of them both teams have scored. all ending up as 1-1 draws.

    all the other games theres only been one team thats scored, or its ended up as 0-0.

    just shows how boring this world cup has been so far.

  12. I think there’s much to be seen yet. I think that the players of teams such as Argentina or Portugal have to get a bit used to play with each other since most of them play in foreign clubs. Argentina for example. I think not many of them are teammates in club futbol. Let’s give it some more time. And also, Uruguay-Italy was a great match!

  13. I agree with you. From the Jabulani ball to the vuvuzelas and the horrible winter weather the last couple of days, this WC is turning out to be the worst. The only good games have been the opener, the Germany game and arguably, today’s New Zealand last-second thriller against Slovakia.

    You’re right about there being too many teams. I thought some time ago FIFA was thinking about going with 24 instead of 32. It would be much more exciting.

  14. This is the 1st World Cup that the people atmosphere is non existent (no singing or chanting or cheering) its just THOUSANDS OF RELENTLESS DEFFENING ANGRY BEE’S!!!

    No enjoyment. If they want to save this world cup from being the worst ever, they need to ban them things for starters and bring the fans back into the game, they are what lift the players when they most need some support.

    BRAZIL is our only hope now to see some football!! Lets hope tonight will show us what we have been waiting for.

  15. @James – You sound like a grumpy old git. So the football may not have been the most exciting to watch yet however, the spectacle has been amazing – Some of the passing has been brilliant (bar England of course.. some things just never change) The ball hasn’t caused any real problems. You clearly have no mind of your own and are jumping on the bandwagon of criticism. The vuvuzella needs to stay – it’s part of the tradition (what if someone asked english fans to stop chanting). Therefore you have just proved yourself to be an incompetent, arrogant, stereotypical english “hooligan”.

  16. This World Cup has been a disgrace. Hardly any goals are being scored and the goals which have been scored have hardly been 30/40 yard strikes like fifa were anticipating due to this amazing new ball they have created. Why do they continue to think they can engineer better balls than what there already is. What was wrong with the last World Cup ball? Maybe it wasn’t round enough. The stadiums have loads of empty seats and you cant even hear the crowd when there is a goal. All you can hear are them ridiculous stupid horns!! Rubbish World Cup, rubbish new balls, rubbish atmosphere, rubbish matches. The tournament should never ever be hosted in an African country again!!

    • Have a look at the spectators.A picture says a thousand words.You will be hard pressed to find a previous WC where the fans are as enthusiastic (this is for the fans not FIFA)and this is in spite of the game quality.Empty seats , well look at the ave game attendance and the facts will surprise you , one of the highest ever.This is in spite of the state of the world economy. Look at the wonderful stadiums.Built by Africans in a African country with out borrowing money or bankrupting the government. Vuvulelas , not an easy one. Ill give it a go and try to defend them. They are a lot like English cooking. Most outsiders complain but given the chance jump in with both feet. I’m quite confident you are not actuality in SA. I’m guessing you are making your comments blindly. It will come out in the wash but from what Ive seen and been told by other visitors to SA this is a great WC.It is a huge success the hosting in Africa , the best ever from that point.This is not a ignorant comment but based on published figures and comments from from well traveled WC supporters.Believe it , you are missing a the greatest WC ever.

  17. Well I liked both Brazil and Argentina. It’s still entertaining to watch them play. Any other game would have me bored to death if I hadn’t bet. Lets hope Spain play some good football tomorrow.

  18. The reality is that increasing the competition to 32 teams, while it allows far more countries to join the party…which is a good thing, means that there are far too many also rans from the outset.

    Slovenia, Slovakia, Algeria, New Zealand, Australia, North Korea, Japan, Honduras etc are all very very average teams…so poor games are inevitable.

    Add to that the fact that France, Italy, Portugal and (arguably) even Germany and Argentina have far weaker squads than in the past few finals and its a recipe for medocrity.

    As for the Vuvuzelas…..don’t have a problem at all and can’t understand why so many are getting worked-up about them.

  19. Here’s a little food for thought:

    The first 14 games of the 2010 tournament have produced a mere 23 goals between them, five fewer than the lowest total recorded at the same stage in any of the previous 18 tournaments, stretching all the way back to 1930.

  20. Am an African and I do agree this is the worst world cup in living memory. 0-0,1-0, 1-1,2-1,2-0 have been the dominant scorelines. The vuvuzelas have muzzled the fans.. The teams arent playing with any drive or inspiration. Av just glanced over and the Spain(favorites) vs Switzerland game is 0-0 at the break. August cannot get here any sooner!

  21. Probably the worst part of this World Cup so far is Dunga being in charge of Brazil. WHO APPLIES A DEFENSIVE MIND-SET TO BRAZIL?!?! No Adriano? No Ronaldinho? A draw against NORTH KOREA?!?! That should not be happening.

    And there’s no problem with the ball. The Germans have proved that.

  22. the vuvuzelas have totally ruined the whole thing ..cant watch the tv for more than ten minutes without switching over ..god knows what it must be like in the stadiums .how could anyone play or even think tactics with that horrible drone can a plastic toy be culture …if someone from england ,was in the crowd with a ghetto blaster playing ,world in motion over and over again at every game im sure they would soon be stopped

  23. To Phil.Try reading my comment again-if you can,numpty.I make no comment about the vuvuzela(correct spelling) or the atmosphere,simply the standard of football and the lighter ball. Both of these seem to be borne out by the majority of pundits in the media.Now we come to your assumption that I’m a stereotypical English hooligan…well, I’m neither and I have played the game professionally,never been described as arrogant or incompetent…and you?Try reading thoroughly and thoughtfully before you jump in with your size 10’s which, by the way, seems disproportionate to your brain size.

  24. Amazing that there are idiots like Phil that seem to think that a cheap plastic toy conveys the vulture and history of a country…
    It’s thinking like that that gets everyone into those ridiculous politically correct situations.
    Grow up and admit that they are annoying as all hell….
    they are not part of south africa’s “Culture” and soon they will be in every stadium in the world…

    you better belive in that tripe you spew or you’re be hearing those damn vuvuzelas while you try to watch corination street.

  25. definately the worst world cup ever, so many teams that do not deserve to be there.

    its supposed to be entertaining, its not and something has to be done, deduct points for nil nil draws or something.

    cant believe i looked forward to this rubbish for so long

  26. NO! dont ban the vuvuzela!!! its thier cutlutre and they are not going to ban it just becasue you are not comfrtable with it. i think Vuvuzela is part of the African soccer culutre let them blow thier horn as they like.

  27. I assume that all or at least most of the comments about poor atmosphere are made by people thousands of miles away. Nearly all at the games say that the atmosphere is the best ever.Just have a look at the spectators , do they look far from bored?You cant believe what the bias press says now can you , honestly? Vuvuzalas are not as bad in the stadium as they are over the tube. I also hated them but could not resist blowing on one the moment I got a chance. Most are been used by non SA spectators now.Not the best soccer I admit but with great atmosphere , great stadiums , friendliest people it is a great celebration. This is probably the best and not the worst WC ever.If you exclude the quality of the games off course. This is my 6th world cup by the way.

  28. The vuvuzela needs to go, this has been the worst world cup i have ever seen, compare this tournament too the last two and it just doesn’t get anywhere near the same standard.

    And to the people that say cut the smaller teams out, that would be rubbish, like having an fa cup just for the premiership teams. The problem here lies with that damn horn, i can’t see it being the ball as the players are good enough to adapt and i can’t see it being weather/altitude etc as people adjust to those too.

    You just have to wonder how much this stupid horn is affecting the players ability to communicate with each other…

  29. can everyone thinking this is boring switch off and do something else with their time, i mean really there should be other things on TV to watch than get irritated all the time, and if you donot like the vuvuzela we feel for you coz africa has introduced an instrument that has gone international, there are more foreigners buying the vuvuzela than south africans look at Uk 40 000 gone in a short time.

    we as africans ( proudly south african) are enjoying it, and buy the look at everyone who is here, they are having a blast. just accept that we do thing different and wake up from the realisation that not everyone wants to be european.

  30. Worst football display in living memory.
    And the crap noise of those stupid horns, roaring all the time, any wonder .Tinitus would be the preferred alternative to that dumb racket.
    Let’s hope they never get to host another, who would want to listen to that racket.
    nothing to do with football whatsoever.

  31. You know , watching a match live is actually not as good as watching on the telly if the football is all it is about. There is no way you can see the detail from 100 yards or more. No action replay , no detailed stats or sitting with your feet up in your undies. Traveling across the world to watch the WC live is not about convenience or even purely about football. It about the experience. From that point of view the SA experience is one to remember. Vuvuzelas will no doubt be baned in Europe and I agree that this should be so. In SA however they have their place and have added to the experience making it more colorful. The quality of the play is the collective responsibility of all the teams. The quality of the tournament is that of the host country and FIFA. SA has so far done a great job and the attendance figures prove this.Why hope they never get to host another I ask?

  32. for got to mentions the stupid ball ! that bounces like a rubber ball and not even beckham could bend it !

  33. The second and third round has seen considerably more goals scored, thus the ranting about the ball was completely unjustified. I think the low amount of goals in the 1st round was probably due to the players’ nerves. The tight games we’ve seen between so-called first-tier and second-tier teams are probably because the gap between the two tiers are narrowing and not because of poor play by the first tier teams. Furthermore, people who attend the matches say the “vuvuzela’s” do not sound as bad at the game as on T.V. So this World Cup is not as bad as the international press is making it out to be. Afro-pessimism I suspect!

  34. Well done South Africa you shot yourself in the foot. This has to go down as the worst world cup ever. Those wazu horns or watever you call them did thank you you bunch of selfish prats.

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