Soccer 2010 Is Over...
After far too many clumsy finishes, the more elegant soccer team won. Better still, Andres Iniesta spared us all the debacle of a scoreless championship match that might have driven the sport's defenders here in
Iniesta went far post with a right-footed rocket, just four minutes from the end of extra time.
There was a lot to like about this tournament in
In that last match, it was hard Sunday to watch and not scold these players with a bit of coaching advice: "Just chip the ball!" A simple flick upward from the foot of either Arjen Robben or Cesc Fabregas on outright breakaways would have ended things much earlier. Instead, these men kept blasting away, never quite clearing the flailing feet of desperate goalkeepers.
That is now all water under the parched savannas.
All fine and good, a well-earned celebration for a nation that has played pretty, fleet, possession soccer for as long as anybody can remember. But really the Spaniards are not the whole tale of this Cup, only the ending.
Before this, we had the
We had the early brilliance of
We had the run of little
And most of all, we had the host, South Africa, which pulled off a tournament that many once thought was headed for disaster. As recently as a few months ago, organizing committee CEO Danny Jordaan was still trying to convince skeptics his World Cup would, in fact, be held with no major setbacks or delays.
"Wherever I go, people ask, 'Is the World Cup really going to happen?'" Jordaan said. "I thought it was important for me to answer the public with a resounding 'Yes.' It will happen, and it will happen very, very well. You will see it with crowds and with an atmosphere that will rival any competition we've seen."
Then he delivered. That is not to say this was the best World Cup ever. The venues were far apart and mass transit was sometimes nonexistent. The airfares and hotel prices were exorbitant, bordering on ripoffs. And there was a haunting whisper in the background, reminding tourists that these giant stadiums were not really the right answer to the economic, racial and political problems facing
Yet there is much to be said for the image makeover that took place. Too many people believed for too long that the continent of
It's a lot of trouble to go through, considering these matches sometimes produce all of one goal in 120 minutes. In