Posted tagged ‘World Cup’

Looking to the future

July 12, 2010

Whatever my career may turn out to be like after my present gig is over tomorrow, it will probably be less lucrative than that of Paul the Octopus. Having correctly predicted every match outcome in the world cup on which he was asked to express an opinion,the offers are now streaming in for him.

Mind you, the future is not always bright for those who can predict it. Kelvin McKenzie, the then editor of the Sun newspaper (if you’ll allow me to stretch a point), once famously wrote to the paper’s astrologer as follows: ‘As of course you’ll already know, I have decided to sack you…’

My very best wishes to Paul for his future career.

World Cup final: the result announced

July 9, 2010

Look away now if you don’t want to know who is going to win the World Cup. But the German octopus (called Paul, by the way), who has a 100 per cent accuracy record in predicting the outcome of World Cup matches, has just this morning confirmed that Spain will win the tournament.

So that’s it, then.

The World Cup

July 7, 2010

OK, it’s got to be Germany to win the soccer World Cup final. I know that there is still Spain to go, and then Holland to beat, but the sheer fluency of this young German team seems to me now to be unstoppable. At any rate, that’s my prediction.

Noise control

June 15, 2010

You may be like me, and so vuvuzelas may be a new discovery for you. As those of you who have not been stranded in a cave for the past few days will know, vuvuzelas are horns commonly used in South Africa to make a lot of noise at sporting events. As of 2006, Wikipedia gave the following short definition:

‘An air horn, approximately 1 metre in length, made from plastic and commonly seen at South African soccer matches. The name is said to originate from the Zulu for “making noise” although this is disputed. (Others say the name originates from the fact it makes a “vuvu” sound when blown or comes from the township slang related to the word for “shower”).’

OK, but if you look at the Wikipedia entry today you’ll find a rather longer definition and lots of commentary. In fact, these (usually plastic) instruments can create a rather unpleasant, monotonous sound, and because absolutely everyone in South Africa has them and blows into them constantly they create a very loud buzzing noise throughout matches, including the current matches in the World Cup. People have been complaining about them, including people who want to watch World Cup matches on the television.

Well, I’m glad that DCU’s translational research ethos (i.e. research that will benefit the community) is alive and well. My colleague Sean Marlow, from the Faculty of Engineering and Computing, has done some quick work and come up with a way in which the broadcasters can significantly reduce the noise of the vuvuzelas. He has passed on his research findings to RTE, and we now hope that the results will quickly become, er, inaudible.

Who says we don’t have a smart economy?

The great, great football show

June 13, 2010

No matter what you might think about soccer as a game, there is something dramatic, exciting and seductive about the FIFA World Cup. Of course there is the game itself – and patient readers of this blog know I am something of a fan – but there is also the bigger narrative of international encounters and intercultural understanding. There’s simply nothing like it, not even the Olympic Games provide this kind of story; particularly because the honours are spread much more evenly in football, and the results are much less predictable. And also, where can you have a global game with fans in every continent in which the United States are underdogs and China doesn’t feature at all?

Of course, courtesy of Thierry Henry’s famous hand ball Ireland isn’t there. For a while I thought that would kill my interest in the whole thing, but of course I’ve come around and am glued to the games. And who am I backing? I haven’t made up my mind yet. There needs to be an heroic story in there somewhere, of courage overcoming the odds, of romantic adventures. I’m not sure yet where that will take me. That’s part of the beauty of these games.

Hand games

November 19, 2009

For a period during my teens I played a lot of handball and got really rather good at it. For those who don’t know it, the quickest way of describing it would be to say that it’s like a trimmed down version of indoor soccer played with the hands rather than the feet. Back then, I was a prolific goalscorer. And from that vantage point, I can tell you that Thierry Henry’s skills at handball are excellent: his move to control the ball with his hand before scoring was a classic. The only slight problem is that he wasn’t playing handball.

OK, so what am I talking about? If you don’t know the answer you are not Irish and have not seen any Irish news media over the past 24 hours. No harm to you, here’s the brief explanation. Last night the Irish football (soccer) team played its last qualifying game for the World Cup in South Africa next year. It was the second (and final) game against France; the first leg had been played last Saturday in Dublin, and last night (in Paris) Ireland needed to win the game in order to qualify. Things were going well, with an Irish goal courtesy of Robbie Keane, when just before the end the ball fell to French player Henry, who handled it deftly and allowed team mate Gallas to score. The goal should have been disallowed and Ireland should have had a free kick, but the referee didn’t see it and allowed the goal, and Ireland were cheated out of their place in the World Cup.

In case you think this is a partisan account, let me quote Thierry Henry himself:

‘It was a handball, but I’m not the ref.┬áThe ball hit my arm, fell in front of me and I played it. The ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him.’

Well of course, all sorts of people are asking the referee. And there is now a campaign for a replay. What has happened here is that an admitted foul was the basis for an undeserved French win. It really should not be allowed to stand. The people should rise up in anger! I fear justice will not prevail, but we should never let it go by default.