The World Cup is the biggest sporting event on our blue planet. No need to clarify which World Cup as everybody will immediately and subconsciously know that I am referring to Football. Is there any comparison or parallel? No! Nothing compares to it! Not the FA Cup. Not the Football European Cup. Not the Olympics. It dwarfs every other event. All are pygmies compared to the World Cup.
The edition of 2006 remains the amost watched event in television history. It was viewed by an estimated 26.29 billion non-unique viewers. And when we know that the two countries with the biggest population did not even qualify for the Finals…
Despite having jumped the half century (blind me a cricket term in Mauritius!) marker I am still enthusiastic about the World Cup.
I started to be interested in 1970. All my neighbours whom I affectionately call Ton Bonne-Ton Michel-Ton Corio and my uncle Ton Narden were talking of their favourite teams. I was infected immediately. And an infection that runs up to now. Not even the commercialism and charlatanism that tattooed Football have put me off. Nor the outrageous behaviour of players.
Other persons who played an important role in my fanaticism for Football are my two grannies. They were proud of Pelé. Up to now I have not been able to fathom why. Is it because they had seen so much adulation and respect for a black person for the first time? They have lived Colonial times. They were very intelligent but did not get the chance to pursue any studies for economic reasons.
Every World Cup has its own memory impact. What do I remember?
I watched the match at the place of Ton Bonne. I managed to crawl in between the legs of the mighty uncle to watch the Final. This is the first time I saw Pelé. My football education started from there. I started to read Advance newspaper on a regular basis and other dailies to know about Brazil’s Vava who scored in the Finals of 1958 and 1962 World Cup.
Not many players succeeded in doing that feat. If I am not mistaken, Pelé did so in 1958 and 1968 followed by Paul Breitner and Zinedine Zidane.
I was sad when I read that Alfredo Di Stefano, an Argentinian born artist, did not play in the 1958 World Cup because he pulled a muscle prior to the competition. He is considered with George Best as the very great player who never played in a World Cup.
What do I remember from the 1970 World Cup?
I remember not watching but listening to the radio the next day, the super save of all time by Gordon Banks who denied Pelé a goal. In 1970, many Mauritians were also supporting England. England of 1970 was better according to the tontons than the one which won the World Cup in 1966. England was sadly ousted in the Quarter Finals by West Germany after leading 2-0. I was not able to listen on the radio the match Brazil v West Germany but only learned with glee that Pelé had won.
Yes, back to the final. Brazil v Italy. Brazil played football like nobody has seen before. A team full of artists. I still remember the actions leading to the goal of Carlos Alberto. It was the fourth goal.
How can I still remember it? Simply because the defunct Cinema Royal was playing at all intervals the goals and goal mouth actions. Thus, endearing Brazil to the inhabitants of Beau Bassin/Rose Hill. I was watching and listening. I know that contrary to the World Cup of 1962 (with its infamous battle of Santiago Chile Vitaly) the 1970 was the first final to be televised in colour.
I vividly recollect that not one single player was sent off. Brazil won for the 3rd time. So, Brazil took permanently possession of Jules Rimet cup which was stolen and not yet recovered.
I don’t know why but the next day I was proud of Brazil. I have won. The magic of the Artists.
My tontons, as I was very petulant, taunted me with the question: ‘Do you know why England did not win the World Cup?’ For once I was gobsmacked! I did not have any scapegoat-answer. They were proud. The answer is ‘because Mauritius is no longer with England’.
1974 World Cup Germany (West).
My idol Pelé had retired. The great Brazilian team was no more. Can one climb higher than Mountain Everest? Impossible!
In 1974, I was very good in quiz. Sad for Brazil but overpowered by the total Football of Netherlands (Holland) of a great coach Rinus Michel. The Great Johan Cruyff was the man who led Netherlands to the Final against West Germany skippered by all time great Franz Beckenbauer. The Final I watched it at Dr Bour Street St Patrick Rose Hill at the place of my late uncle Sandra. It was in the verandah of a very tidy longtail house with a gatopima-tamilstyle- very hot in my mouth. The Netherlands scored through a penalty scored by John Neeskens before a German player had touched the ball. When the bomber of Bayern Munich Gerd Muller scored I was grumpy. I hated the Germans because at the time I was seeing them as Nazis and the good Germans were only in East Germany.
In 1978 I was a full throttled Militant. Ambivalent in my support. The Militant in me was against the bloopy Military Junta which was controlling the country. I had a new Hero… The boy from Nancy… Michel Platini. Brazil was still in the doldrums. And Argentina was coached by the chain smoking Cesar Luis Menotti. My admiration was greater despite his smoking habits as I read from Le Monde that he is a left-wing Militant. But Argentina also had great players like Kempes and Osualdo Ardilles who later ‘plied his sport’ with Tottenham.
I remember the match Argentina v France 1978. It was played at around 2.00 am. I had a toothache and nearly missed the match if I had not been awakened by Vija and Rouben. Both have sadly passed away. To overcome the terrible toothache I ingurgitated half a bottle of the popular working-class perfume Bien-être of my mum instead of following the advice of my maternal Grandmum who preferred for me a recipe of cloves and ginger. In other words, I was groggy. I watched all the matches at 242 Hugnin Road Rose Hill at my mame’s place.
It was a pleasure to hear the comments of Jean Delaître (who was also very knowledgeable about the Tour de France and cyclones) before and after the match. France lost. Very sad for Marius Trésor who should have scored. But the final apart from the two goals of Mario Kempes… nothing extraordinary.
Italy won. But what is more memorable. Indelible! Italy beat Brazil 3-2 in one of the best World Cup matches of all time. Paolo Rossi who returned, after a period of imprisonment for match rigging, only a few weeks to the National side slaughtered Brazil with a hat trick. Socrates and Ziko gave Brazil the aura of 1970. Dino Zoff stopped Socrates from scoring point blank a header with a save which is quasi the same as what Gordon Banks did to Pelé… But the worst action during that World Cup came from the criminal assault of Schumacher against Battiston. Battiston went immediately unconscious. I still have in mind Battiston’s hand flopping over the side of the stretcher. When Platini raised the hand of Battiston to kiss it I was nearly in tears. Dirty Nazis. The equalizer through penalty by Platini. What imprints on my memory is the walking of Platini from penalty spot to the arc outside penalty area. I thought he would continue to walk till the centre of the field. Was he trying to avoid the cold-eyed gaze of Harald Schumacher? Maybe one day Platini will tell us.
France deserved at least to be in the Final. Platini said “it was his most beautiful game’’. I agreed then. I still agree today. The ugliest act of 1982 was… the “fixed match’’ not sanctioned between Austria and West Germany; it was the most unsporting action by a whole team. West Germany did not want to win by more than two goals so as to keep Algeria out. The angry Spanish supporter was furera or fouera meaning out out while Algerian supporters and independent ones were waving banknotes at the players. One West German fan burned has National flag in protest. When German fans protested in front of the hotel (which prompted me to understand that there are good sportsmen in West Germany) the players and staff threw water-filled balloons on them… from their windows…
I was studying in England. I watched all the matches at different venues in London but the two matches I will not forget are: Brazil v France (Quarter Final) and Argentina v England.
I remember the hand of God and the goal of the century but I believe the best goal Maradonna scored was against Belgium in the semifinals. It was a belter!
Brazil v France epic match won by Platini’s men on penalty. Argentina played with flair and style (a bit like Brazil of 1970) but they did not have as much as Brazil had. Argentina was inspired by the genius and the Machiavellian mind of Diego Maradona.
No need to talk about other teams. The regular Germans (West Germany) might have won it but the great victors were the indomitable Lions of Cameroon. The team was led by a man who was playing football as a veteran in Réunion Island. Cameroon attacked with flair and gave England a seismic fright in the quarter final. The forty-year-old won the hearts of all neutrals. His dance became legendary and has been copied by thousands of others round the world. But what makes me proud as an African is that Cameroon brought African football on the world stage. We earned respect. But we should not forget also the victory of Cameroon in the first game of the tournament when they beat Argentina 1-0.
I have returned from England and is practicing as a Junior Barrister with Sir Gaëtan Duval was also a great admirer of artistry football. Our chambers were neat the Port Louis theatre . No need to say that we feel all of us deep down a little bit an actor in our own rights . The chambers were Brimming with football talks. As the chambers were always Mauritian from all round the island and from different backgrounds the common denominator for all conversations was football. At that time I was very much involved with roche bois boys scouts a football team as its name indicates from roche bois which was doing very well against other football clubs like sunrise,fire- brigade, or cadets club. The World Cup was organized in the United States . The key factors were for the first time since 1938 no team from United Kingdom qualified. So no England, no Scotland, no Northern Ireland, no Wales, and to jeer off the English nothing worse than the qualification of Republic of Ireland for a second successive World Cup finals. The defending champions west Germany are now known as Germany following fall of Berlin Wall. First time since 1938 ( before the beginning of the Second World War in 1939) that Germany is represented as a unified country. key moments.the expulsion of the great Maradona following a drug test which uncovered ephredine in his blood. Ephredine is not a stimulant ( the devil’s advocate in me is defending Diego Maradona) but a drug that triggers weight loss.
Who does not remember the sad face of andres Escobar who scored an own goal against the United States. Who will have predicted that ten days later he would have been shot outside a pub in Medellin for his own goal. The Colombian mafia is very active!
Who does not remember the Italian Roberto Baggio who scores two goals against Nigeria . Roberto baggio scores the tying goal against Nigeria ( at that time we were all supporting Nigeria) and again scored the winning goal for the final Italy v Brazil. Second time in 24 years that these two great football teams were meeting again... I was expecting to see a flurry of goals specially from Romario who eventually won the Golden as the tournament’s best player but to no avail. It was the first final I was watching with my mum. Worse for the final game there were quasi no scoring opportunities no bid repetita of the 1970 final. After 120 minutes, the match was goalless and the World Cup was décides for the first time by penalty shoot outs.
Baggio who played injured sadly missed the last penalty . After four rounds Brazil was leading 3-2 and with Baggio’s miss the Cup was offered to Brazil for the fourth time. The peace novel prize winner Vice President al- gore handed to Dunga the most coveted trophy on the football’s world. But what brought tears to my eyes was the classy act of the Brazilian team dedicating the title to the formula one motor racing champion Aryton Senna who died some 75 years before.The funeral of Aryton Senna was the equivalent of the funeral ceremony of lady diana.
And a Russian by the name of Oleg Salenko won with the Bulgarian Stoichkoz the golden boot. Salenko scored five goals in a 6-1 victory against Cameroun this becoming the first player to score five goals in a fifa final. Juste Fontaine no! Oleg Salenko!
1998 World Cup France
In 1999 I was leader of the mouvement of Republican . Our headquarters was at Edward VII st rose- hill. We had a TV set in the hall. As I was very busy at that time I had to pick which matches to watch.
What do I remember?
It was the first time that electronic boards were used instead of card board. The introduction of goalden goals . Allowance of three substitutes. The official song of 1998 World Cup is still resonant in my ears today. The song recorded by Ricky Martin “ la cola de la vida “ the cup of life...
I watched the final in the hall of Mr ‘s headquarters . It was full with members and supporters. Nobody was talking about the golf project at île aux cerfs. But I did not know that the majority of my friends was secret supporters of France. They were too scared of me to be vociferous about their support of France. It realized it when it was announced that Ronaldo the best player of the tournament is sick. Mystery or a coup by the French secret service of Jack Chirac.
3-0 it ended for France to my dismay. It was the heaviest defeat of mighty Brazil before they were massacred by the Germans 7-1 in the semi- finals of 2014.
Two headers by Zidane.
Do you know what I like most from the 1998 World Cup ? Yes! The official mascot. The name was Footix. ( The suffix ix from my popular comic strip Astérix ) un coq sportif. May be France won through Panolamix!
In June 2015, the FBI and the Swiss authorities launched a corruption investigation on the 1998 finals and organizations leading to several arrests... May be one day... may be !
2002 South Korea & Japan
Sixteen years ago, for the first time the finals were organised in Asia. The first to be co-hosted.
What do I remember from my TV set?
France had to pack early for home. Senegal beat them 1-0 in the opening match. How sorely France missed Zinedine Zidane. Second match, Thierry Henry was red-carded. The match with Uruguay was scoreless draw. So, France of Panoramix left without scoring a single goal. They were a torture to watch like Manchester United, my team is nowadays.
The shock perfomer was Turkey who had not been in the finals since 1954 reached the semi-finals and was beaten by Brazil.
My memory is injured when I think what Byron (a poet’s name for nothing) Moreno, the Ecuadorian referee, did to Italy. Italy lost 2-1 to the South Koreans in a math where the Italian players were assaulted before the very eyes of the ref who pretended did not see anything. What a disgrace? Who was brought? By whom?
I knew while watching the match that the ref is a crook… You know what happened to the ref… In 2010, he was sentenced to 26 months in prison after carrying drugs in the United States in his underwear.
And the Spanish team was also cheated. FIFA officials remained silent. Spain was dumped in the semi-finals by South Korea on penalties. Two goals were disallowed!
Two clear goals. “Thieves of dreams” screamed the Spanish press.
Final! Brazil v Germany … Ronaldo sealed his sweet revenge by netting two goals thus taking his tournament total to a golden boot winning right. I watched the match in a forced silence therapy as my wife is an ardent and vocal supporter of Germany.
Brazil won all their seven matched. A feat done only by the same Brazil in 1970.
I was disgusted by the refereeing standard of 2002 finals…
2006 World Cup !
Where did I watch the matches of the 2006 World Cup? I was Attorney General of the Republic. The cabinet designated me to be the mouthpiece of the ministerial delegation to defend the brief of Aapravasi Ghat before the UNESCO in Lithuania. It was a high pressure but luckily apart from the help of ministers Dulull – Gowressoo, I also had the luck to get the support of the present Cabinet Secretary Mr. Ballah and the now Permanent Secretary of ministry of commerce Mr. Fareed Chuttan and the delegation of NGOS, where among others there was Mrs Teeluck.
The final, I watched in my hotel room number 5-3 in Latvia, capital of Lithuania. The people are the most friendly I have ever seen. Genuinely, ready to help. No façade. Even the bins are tidy and clean.
I was watching only replays on the television of the hotel which is a very small set. The final was played on the 9th of July. For us, also it was the final as we were living the key moments for the inscription of Aapravasi Ghat (hindi word meaning the landing place of immigrants) and which was inscribed in the world. Heritage list one week later key moments of my 2006 World Cup in Latvia:
- My favorite referee at the time making at mickey (and indirectly of my faith in him) of him by brandishing three yellow cards to a Croatian player wearing jersey No 3.
- The free kick of David Beckham of Manchester United against Ecuador after three years of drought for England.
- Four red cards and plenty of yellow cards 14 (I am not so sure… but there were Galoke) during the match Portugal v Holland. Ronaldo was starting his international career…
- The 24 passes of the Argentinian team against Serbia leading to the goal of Cambiasso.
- Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in the quarter final. Where Cristiano Ronaldo betrayed his friendship for Rooney and spurred on the ref to have him red carded.
Back to room 5-3. France was gathering stream and suddenly headed Marlo Materazzi in one of the most iconic moment in World Cup history. Room 5-3… The final went to penalty and for the first in his history, Italy won on penalty: 5-3.
You remember room 5-3.
World Cup 2010 – South Africa
The World Cup, I wanted so deep down myself to bring the family at least to watch live two or three matches. But my defeat in the electoral campaign took the steam out of me. Financially I was broke and the banks like vultures were vulturing on me … so back to my gown.
My objective was to become one of the best criminal lawyers of my generation.
So, I will watch the match at home with Taslima and the kids. An injured tiger needs time to recharge…football is my medium.
What will stick in our minds is the ubiquitous honk of the Vuvuzela. We need to honk to welcome the first African World Cup. The official song of FIFA by Shakira … Waka Waka… sprung to any mind however lazy the mind is.
The really traumatic experience was to see the whole French team crumbled. The lonely figure Raymond Domenech holding an off the cuff press conference near a yellow corner flag. He was cornered because he rightly sent home Nicolas Anelka for using foul language against him. The other players supported Nicolas Anelka and they organised a strike. I still would like to know what Sir Alex Ferguson say to Patrick Eyra who was the mouthpiece of the mutinees. And you remembered how the cheat from Liverpool Luis Suarez cheated the darlings of Africa from scoring and winning a place in the semi-final. A penalty was awarded for Luis Suarez punch in the penalty box but to my eternal regret Asamoah – too confident – whacked his penalty off the cross bar. I cried with our continent. And dirty Suarez rejoiced.
- Yes the final was honoured by my “political idol” Nelson Mandela who sat in black with wife Gracia on his left.
- Sad for Holland who last a final again.
- And the golden ball went to a Manchester United reject Diego Forlan whose personal history is full of lessons for all of us.
A reject can still be the golden ball. I was rejected by No 19, can I become the “golden boy”!!!
2014 … Brazil
I could have bet my life that the World Cup would be won by a Latin American country. How wrong was I! Utterly wrong!
I have studied in England. So, I have a little soft corner for England. But five days after playing their first match against Italy which they lost 2-1. Days later in a meek display they were outshined by Uruguay of Suarez by 2-1. England arrived without expectation but managed somewhat to lower it to a level which filled me with shame.
Carnival of goals! Germany v Brazil 7-1. The next morning, I thought the match was going to be played tonight. My wife who is football bonkers as the Brazilians were more than happy. She is an ardent supporter of Germany and the expert who predicted that Brazil will do what it did to Italy in 1970 final. The seleçao was blasted. High high drama. Everywhere on the field, in the commentary box in the stadium… and everywhere before every TV set. It was chaotic for scholari. I still can’t believe the score.
Will I come to term with it in 2018?
- Angel Di Maria’s last gap winner against Swtizerland.
- Fergie’s time infected the 2014 World Cup. It was the tournament that had more crucial late goals than any other competition.
- The goal of Van Persia (the flying Dutchman) which defied gravity to score against Spain. Holland won 5-1 under the leadership of Louis Van Gal.
- The use of the spray to indicate the right spot.
- The equalling of the record of the Brazilian Ronaldo by Miroslav Klose. 15 goals! What a feat! Of course, not in a single World Cup final.
- The heroic saves of Tim Howard as keeper of the USA. Tim Howard became a household name in the USA.
- The breaking of vertebra in his back. Brazil followed the medical bulletins of a patient as never before… the player is Neymar. In the quarter final which Brazil won 2-1 against Colombia, James Rodriguez also said bye bye to the World Cup.
If only TV sets were able to record all our gestures, mimics and words uttered during a high-octane match … life would be another play completely… or without football the world …
In months to come…. My next memories! Deo volente