The culture cup | Copping awards for purple prose, Icelandic chic and fish graphics

Link to Hakkeijima Sea Paradise World Cup page
In a football tribute that defies category, Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama staged a piscine World Cup, with matches twice per day. Their website advertises the spectacular.

FIFA may have its Golden Boot, but notable performances at the 2006 World Cup finals were not confined to the pitch:

Best use of website graphics to promote alternative World Cups (underwater division): We preferred the manga-inspired efforts of Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama to get football lovers out to the fish tanks to see the matches pitting yellow tang versus blue palette surgeonfish. The blue fish stood in for Japan, naturally, while the yellow tang represented group-stage foes Brazil, who swam rings around the blue-paletted “Japanese.” Blue palette surgeonfish “tend to stay at a corner of the fish tank,” according to an aquarium spokesman.

Link to official site of Les Zizous
Cover art for the “Allez Zizou” single comes from Polish illustrator Jacek Wozniak.

Best musical tribute to tonsured French footballer (over 30): Well before the unfortunate clash between Zinédine Zidane and Marco Materazzi in the final—the inspiration for the post-Cup sensation “Coup de boule” (Head butt)—an ad hoc assemblage tagging themselves “Les Zizous” created a more conventional homage. A bistro operator at Ménilmontant in Paris and musical friends combined on “Allez Zizou (Wallé),” which climbed the charts as Les Bleus survived the group stage and then gathered momentum versus Spain, Brazil and Portugal. They sing of the side’s merits and Zizou’s essential role, of a goal coming from the sky and a cock crowing:

L’équipe mérite, le match de la finale
Ta porte est chance, Berlin est amicale
Une tête qui plante, le but arrive du ciel
Esprit du groupe, le coq sonne le réveil

The song represents a large improvement over repetitious wailings of Polish band Trawnik and their own “Zinedin Zidane.”

Link to official site of the Onitsuka Tiger National Choir
The choir encourages you to sing along: “Together we are lots of goal goal goal / And when the saints go marching on and on / We ate all pies and sing a football song / Together we are lots of goal goal goal.”

Best shoe advertisement featuring Baptist Church–inspired gospel choir: We return to Japan with acknowledgment to The Spirit of Football 2006 for calling our attention to an upbeat promotion for the Onitsuka Tiger Injectorâ„¢ DX athletic shoe. Known for its offbeat advertising, the Onitsuka Tiger brand, a division of Asics, has existed since 1949. According to the company website:

As the Japanese people recovered from the war and began to appreciate the benefits of sports, Onitsuka Tiger shoes were on their feet. The first basketball shoes in Japan had a tiger face design on the arch of the foot and this became Onitsuka’s trademark.

In the past, marketers have devised an ongoing saga tied to the Summer Olympics, in which Kenshi, the so-called Running Fish Gutter, tries to “run” to the site of the Games, wearing tiny Onitsuka Tiger shoes on his miraculous fish-gutting fingers. For the 2006 World Cup, an extremely zealous church choir, with swaying polyester robes, sings of the shoe’s merits for scoring goals. They even have a kind word for “lovely linesmen.”

Most lamentable absence of European nation renowned for a bewitching waif-like singer: Again we were crestfallen not to see Iceland represented in the finals stage. This is mainly because we want to know the precise relationship between punk/techno vocalist Björk Gudmundsí°ottir and football, and we thought that the side’s qualification might help flesh this out, as well as gain more prominence for the oeuvre of Björk favorite Halldór Laxness. It was not to be, as Iceland finished next to last in Group 8 of the European qualification zone.

Our suspicions about Björk were stirred through an 8,800-word New Yorker profile in 2004. First, she shows a passion for Brazilian carnival. Hmm. She mentions fascination with the marriage of David and Victoria Beckham. Then, she points out an obscure Reykjaví­k newspaper story with the headline, “Tire tracks in football field.” Can it be much longer before she is booked for halftime festivities at a major FIFA or UEFA competition? Certainly a step up from Las Ketchup.

Most egregious oversight by Montevideo press bureaus in advance of a World Cup qualifying playoff: Could Australia’s qualification-playoff victory versus Uruguay in November 2005 have been motivated by the plight of Melbourne Park Hyatt maid Louise Kelsey? We doubt it very much, but foreign correspondents in the Uruguayan capital appear to have sidestepped the question.

Before an identical qualifying tie preceding the 2002 finals—a tie that Uruguay won in November 2001—Kelsey, 58, said her nystagmus, a congenital condition causing involuntary eye movements, became aggravated following an unsolicited kiss from one of the Uruguay players after she had finished cleaning a room. Last October, according to Australian Associated Press accounts, her employer’s insurance company conceded liability in Victorian County Court. Kelsey was declared blind in 2002 and now requires a guide dog. In her court testimony, Kelsey said the player flirted with her, complimented her “Spanish eyes” and pulled at her uniform. “I just put my hands up in a stop signal,” Kelsey told the court, “and I said, ‘Don’t, this is Australia.’ ”

Link to SBS Football Shorts main page
A screen capture from Amine.

Best use of Flash animation in depicting immigrant football cultures: The film that captured our eye in the Australian Special Broadcasting Service telecast of short films about football is Amine, by Susan Danta of the Australian Film Television and Radio School. The animated short depicts the life soccer memories of an Algerian immigrant, particularly his attachment to and memories of his father. Laboriously created by a rotoscoping technique, which involves drawing over preexisting film frames and reintegrating them into video, the movie incorporates scrapbooking, street soccer and Algerian football history to weave a story of integration into multicultural Australia. Other films are Fab Fabi, about a female Australian player with Uruguayan background; Street Soccer, about a homeless team; JFC Blue Winds, about a team in Sydney’s Japanese community; and Round Ball, about one youth’s obsession with the game.


Murilo Junior

Best Web posting on a Lusophone theme: Jose Murilo Junior thrilled us with his posts on Global Voices Online throughout the tournament. Translating from Web logs from Brazil, Portugal, Angola and other lands that have histories of Portuguese influence—the “Lusophone” countries, derived from the name of the ancient territory that coincided with modern Portugal, Lusitania—Murilo Junior pleasantly renders accounts of zeal for and disaffection with the game. He shows that not everyone was so smitten with the daily media overdose. He quotes from the writer of “Não-post” (The non-post, Jun 19) on “The Estrogen Diaries” from Portugal: “If everybody knows that blog posts are supposed to be a kind of augmenting / distorting / diminishing mirror of daily life, and if I can’t hear about anything else, how to escape this state of trying not to write a post about football?” The sentiment runs harsher in the words of Carlos Narciso, in “A alegria do povo não é o ópio de toda a gente” (The people’s happiness is not the opiate of everybody, May 19):

I am running from the great slaughter. I can’t stand any more “information” about the World Cup. I am on the verge of getting crazy with the fans, the fans’ opinions, the commentators’ comments, the coaches, the ex-players. … Also the “reports” about the football stars and the showbiz, the wives, the players’ girlfriends, the ex-wives and the soon-to-be girlfriends, the ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of the presidents, or the ex-wives and ex-girlfriends of the ex-presidents.

From East Timor, colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, Murilo Junior quotes blogger Angela Carrascalão Sábado, who praises Radio-Televisão Timor Leste (RTTL), the national broadcaster, for showing the games on terrestrial television.

With the attacks at various places in the city, not all have TVs. … Portugal, Angola and Brazil capture the largest degree of sympathy from the Timorese, fans of Ronaldo, Deco, Figo, Pauleta, among others. Speaking for myself, today I froze all my anguishes about the present situation of my Timorese country. I have traded for the anguishes of football as I watch my Portuguese countries play. I suffer, from my balcony—which is to say, my living room’s sofa—I scream, I get up, get nervous, turn the face. ”¦ So to say, all those senseless things done by those infected by the ball! (“Mundial,” Jun 17)


Jason and Randy Sklar (left to right), hosts of the cable show Cheap Seats on ESPN Classic. (Copyright © Cole Stratton)

Most embarrassing perpetuation of hooliganism stereotype in the guise of irony-laced witticisms: We suppose that cringeworthy comedy is not all bad. But when it shows off Americans as ignorant smart-asses, we are not so sure. We were actually cringing when listening to Jason and Randy Sklar on National Public Radio (“Additions to the U.K. World Cup Etiquette Guide,” May 25). The pair recycled the tired tweaking of English hooligans as if misbehavior surrounding sports events were completely unfamiliar back home.

These violent bands of rogues have been known to travel to other cities for soccer matches and start bar fights …

light cars on fire …

break storefront windows …

urinate freely on historical monuments …

and this is all before the game even starts.

We’re sorry but this sounds more like a typical weekend evening on campus at one of America’s eilte universities.

Best use of alliteration and off-color analogies to characterize football as the primary hope for world peace: Naturally with an event as large as the World Cup the tendency is for writers to overelaborate. We think that few, however, reached farther for words of praise than Justus Nwakanma of the Daily Champion of Lagos. Nwakanma’s column of Jun 9, “Football, Metaphor of Mankind,” no longer is available online, but it well represents an extreme that places football among the noblest human pursuits. Nwakanma begins: “There is no single event in world history today or in time to come, that can uproot the flurry of excitement, or the flutter of followership that football commands; not even the worst tragedies of mankind have the propensity to elicit joy and sadness simultaneously, while crowning their denouement in a feast of flowing camaraderie.” Later, he adds to football’s credit:

As a universal language of globalization, its permissive potency in destroying the oppressive tendencies of nationalistic, class-based, ethnic-oriented, hegemonic and gender-specific notions of identity and culture [is] unmatched.

Football is like lovemaking. It begins with the foreplay, touching of the sensitive parts, the penetration then the orgasm and finally, the ejaculation. In loving-making, there is no winner, nor loser. In football, there is no victor, no vanquished, only a recess. And when football is on stage, even love goes on recess.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

Comments (2)

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  1. Black Looks says:

    [...] The Global Game has some alternative World Cup awards such as the “Best shoe award”; “Best use of Flash animation in depicting immigrant football cultures”; “Most embarrassing perpetuation of hooliganism stereotype in the guise of irony-laced witticisms” and loads more. [...]

  2. Lil Kim' D says:

    Anyone know where I can download Le coup deboul?

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