Tuesday, June 15, 2010
One of my fall back positions for sporting events where I don't have a rooting interest is to cheer for the underdog. This usually works well in the World Cup where some plucky third world nation tries to hold their own against a mighty opponent, but there are exceptions.
Today's match between North Korea and Brazil was one of those exceptions. The DPRK is a totalitarian state led by a despot, so no matter how much I try to separate the sports from the politics, I can't bring myself to pull for their World Cup team.
Any success by the North Koreans in this tournament validates their fearless leader, so cheering for North Korea is essentially cheering against freedom. Even their "fans" (pictured above) are Chinese actors paid to support the team in the World Cup.
The forces of anti-freedom held the Brazilians in check through the first half today, with an uber-defensive style that featured a pyramid of six players in front of the goal, each guarding one square meter with his life, for fear of ending up in a work camp. The Brazilians eventually broke the pyramid and scored a goal, and then another one, but it was an impressive showing for a North Korean team that didn't belong on the same field as their opponents.
The other worst team in the world cup is New Zealand, who scored a goal at the end of stoppage time to salvage a draw against Slovakia. The entire game was unmemorable up to that point, but this one strike made it all worthwhile.
Winston Reid got a yellow card for taking off his shirt, but I'm sure he doesn't mind after getting New Zealand's first point ever in the World Cup. All Whites!!