The group phase of the World Cup 2010 in South Africa has given us a very valuable lesson. Teams may luck out once or twice but eventually Fortuna makes them pay their dues. The story involves 2 teams – France and Italy.
France dominated at the World Cup in 2006 but lost the final match against Italy, after Marco Matterazzi’s dubious role as both a goal scorer and an agent provocateur. Yes, I agree that Zidane should have kept his professionalism and restrained from headbutting Matterazzi, thus getting himself sent off the field and betraying his teammates in the crucial minutes of the match. However, I also detest Matterazzi’s sneaky act and believe that France deserves to have won the World Cup in 2006. Oh well, 4 years later Italy – the defending World Champions – lost to Slovakia and ended last in their group at the World Cup in South Africa.
France paid its dues too. After the shock of losing the World Cup final in 2006, the team had been on a downward trajectory, which culminated in the difficult qualifying playoff victory against Ireland, where Thierry Henry pulled a series of handballs from his bag with tricks, and thus helped France score the winning goal. I like Thierry Henry a lot as a player and support the French in many sports but was very disappointed to see them go through in such a controversial way. Well, as the old saying goes, “what comes around, goes around” – and France lost 2 out of 3 games in its group and finished last in Group A at the World Cup 2010.
What a great way to teach everyone a lesson that you may profit from cheating in sports, but only for a limited period of time…