Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Barca Shoots Blanks // The God Squad
Watch this, then tell me if the Club World Cup is as meaningless as we are assured by a phalanx of Eurosnobic commentators every time it rolls around. Check out Ronaldhino's face after Internacional goes up 1-0 on a crackling counterattack. Check out Inter's wild celebration at the end. Hell, check out all the good-to-great-to-desperate football Barcelona played before—in classic cup-final fashion—going down to a club most of its supporters literally couldn't find on the map.
This tournament is, admittedly, sort of an orphan of the football calendar, and the successor to a trophy that Latin Americans always took way more seriously than Europeans did. (In one of the most pedantic sections of the otherwise brilliant Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano actually toted up the number of times Sudamericano clubs had won the Intercontinenal Cup.) But one of the coolest things about football is its (almost) perfectly logical global structure. Continental championships sit atop national leagues which sit atop lower divisions which sit atop regional and finally local leagues. It's fantastic (and I think that's why fans find closed-door schemes like MLS grating—they remove an integral element of the sport). It would seem to imply the need for a world championship of some sort. This is the one we've got. Well-played to Barcelona, congratulations to SC Internacional. Auckland City will kill 'em all next time.
As I piloted the Subaru home from the mob scene at the airport Post Office at midnight last night, the good old BBC World Service reported on the exciting possibility of a new entrant on the world football stage: Vatican City! For one, I cannot wait. In fact, I would like to see an Ecumenical World Cup. Think of the potential fixture list:
Vatican City v. Dalai Lama Select XI
Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople v. Global Islamic Caliphate
Saddleback Church v. The Episcopalians
Hinduism's Many Gods v. The Other Episcopalians...
Et cetera. In any case, in light of gay/Catholic/liberal/conservative/British/American journalist Andrew Sullivan's recent diagnosis of the Vatican's sub rosa cultural predilections, we can expect any XI fielded by the Holy See to sport some seriously fabu kits. Forza Ratzinger!