So, the World Cup is GO. The coverage so far does seem very good, with ITV Sport proving when they really put their minds to it, they can still cover a World Cup as well as they did in the 1980s. Having Adrian Chiles as the main anchor certainly helps – we can’t imagine any other anchorman for the world’s biggest sporting event admitting he missed the first goal because he’d nipped out for a piss. We’re typing this out while the BBC’s first match is taking place, and their coverage seems very good so far, but then, that’s a given, a bit like saying “Hey, I reckon Brazil could do well this year”.
One other highlight we’ve found so far is The Guardian’s “World Cup Twitter replay”, which gives a high-speed replay of matches, represented only by the most commonly used words on Twitter at the time. It makes for surprisingly compelling viewing, a bit like somehow playing Football Manager 2003 on a lava lamp:
1994 – USA
From this point on, the World Cup posters get a lot better than what we’ve seen, providing less scope for easy japery. The poster for the World Cup in 1994 is very well done, though it doesn’t really look very American, does it? The typeface used looks a bit more suited to a tournament taking place in Africa, the central image being backed in painted yellow makes it feel a bit like the tournament is taking place in Australia, and it’s only really the Star Spangled Banner draped across a rough representation of the US mainland that gives any clue as to where it’s taking place.
Now, if it were us…
That, or a representation of Diana Ross missing that penalty in the opening ceremony, against a backdrop montage of all the clip show idiots smugly sneering about it, as if they’re the first person to have ever noticed it.
1998 – France
Ah, France 1998, and the World Cup finally coming home. Maybe the best tournament that we’ve lived through, with the possible exception of Mexico 1986. A nice lively poster, too, full of verve, energy, and it’s even (broadly) in the same colours as the French kit from that tournament. Though the designers still don’t seem to have worked out how to draw in the semi-circles on the edges of the 18 yard boxes. Or the six yard boxes, for that matter. And those corner spots are way too big, surely those are against FIFA regulations.
Our favourite recollection of France ‘98: France winning the final, and, just because he didn’t have anything else to really contribute to the conversation, a BBC pundit (was it Lawrenson? It might have been Mark Lawrenson) desperately noting that as France had won the thing without even having any decent strikers (poor old Stephane Guivarc’h), maybe that would be a ‘tactic’ other countries would use from that point on. As if picking rubbish strikers would actually be a ‘tactic’. (Insert uninspired Emile Heskey joke here.)
2002 – Japan/Korea
Another great poster, maybe one of our favourites so far. It’s not absolutely perfect though, the placement of the text seems to be a bit of an afterthought, and it doesn’t even try to sum up either host nation. We’d have plumped for maybe a photoshoot of dozens of colourfully haired J-Pop and K-Pop starlets in cosplay uniforms. But then, that’s probably the kind of thing you’d expect from slightly desperate males who spend too much time playing videogames and using the internet. But come on! What about Ayumi Hamasaki and Wondergirls peering out shyly from beneath a pile of flags? Cor!
2006 – Germany
Ignoring the chuckling Mr Men that make up the tournament logo, this is another great poster, marred only slightly by the fact no-one has used footballs that look like that since about 1966. At least if it had been an Adidas Telstar ball, which is a bona-fide design classic, we could allow it. Admittedly, the poster doesn’t really ‘say’ Germany, but if we want to see lazy assumptions on what constitutes German culture, we could just pick up a copy of The Sun in any month where England are about to play Germany. We really would have loved it if Tok Tok Vs Soffy O had played at the opening ceremony, mind.
Germany 2006 was another great tournament, mind. And hey! Maybe all those stars represent what Marco Materazzi saw after Zidane headbutted him! Eh? Eh? Aah, factually inaccurate cutting edge satire arriving just three years and eleven months too late, there.
2010 – South Africa
Finally, the poster for the current tournament (i.e. the one we’re half-ignoring right NOW, in order to write this rubbish). It’s very good poster, too. A footballer, playing football, the subtle inclusion of a map of South Africa as the footballer’s lower neck, a lovely clear design, AND the football is the classic Adidas Telstar ball, as used in the 1970 and 1974 tournaments. It’s a wonderful poster that we’re finding it hard to be negative about.
HOWEVER! If it were really to encapsulate what seems to the most obvious trait of the 2010 World Cup, it just needs one very subtle inclusion.