The good, the bad and the other
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
A fan blows a vuvuzela before the Spain and Portugal match at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)
CAPE TOWN -- After almost three weeks, the World Cup in South Africa has coughed up its list of the good, the bad and the-who-knows-what-category.
There is a lengthening list for the good in this World Cup.
At the top of the list are the people of South Africa who are forever pilloried with stories about crime and poverty but can't do enough to help you.
Then there's the wine. Oh my heaven, Canadians don't get the best of South African wine. We haven't found a bad bottle yet. Anything from the Constantia vineyards is remarkable.
The wine actually goes good with anything including boerewors, another good thing at the World Cup.
Boerewors are the farmer's sausage of South Africa. It is a popular item at any braai (barbecue.) It has a unique taste, a little stronger than usual so you don't want to think of what's in it (everyone has a different recipe) but it's a popular item at the stadium for 30 rand ($3.50.)
Then there's Diego Maradona. The Argentine manager is a breath of fresh air in the stagnant-say-nothing atmosphere that is this World Cup.
Which brings us to the bad. The after-game press conferences are the biggest waste of time since the pre-game press conferences (except when Maradona is involved.)
It's almost as bad as the refereeing at this World Cup. There was a report of a video making the rounds of a referee actually making the right call.
Now, a few other things from all categories:
Durban is the absolute best city in South Africa. It has everything -- beaches, casinos, surfers, restaurants, temperate climates even in winter, fine restaurants, mountains and the sardine run.
Most years, billions of sardines come down the shore in waves. They are followed by fishers, the great white shark and as many as 10,000 porpoises.
It also has bunny chow, a South African delicacy that Durban is famous for.
Bunny chow is a hollowed out piece of fresh bread stuffed with curry flavoured lamb, chicken, beef or beans. It's messy, so weird and so good,
South Africa also has Johannesburg whose weather is a cold as its personality. Joburg is famous for its 10-foot walls around every residence, razor wire that's electrified and a no-neighbour policy. You never see any of them. In fact, we've speculated that the houses may be abandoned and we're the only people living in the neighborhood.
Under the remarkable category is Lionel Messi, the young man from Argentina who has been just that, the best player in the tournament and without questions one of the best things about this World Cup.
Almost there are the Japanese. While everyone has complained endlessly about the Jabulani ball (bad), the Japanese have slammed in a least two great free-kick goals from distance and are one of the teams that have played with great joy here.
That's good because there hasn't been much football joy here. The overall quality of football has been ugly. A tournament that has seen football powers such as England and Italy embarrass themselves, has produced shabby, dodgy, unimaginative and pedantic football. One can only hope that redemption will come in the later rounds.
This falls into the swift South African justice category.
English players reported thefts of shirts, medals, money and even underwear from their camp. The thefts began June 21 but weren't reported until Saturday. Police had the crime solved in less than a day.
A World Cup court convened on Sunday and by the time it was done by later the same day, five people had been convicted and sentenced to up to three years in jail. Match that CSI.
The atmosphere at this World Cup has been polluted by the constant wailing of those annoying vuvuzela horns. They are so loud you can't hear the cheers, chants, songs or retching of English and Italians fans that couldn't stomach how their teams played.
There's nothing more terrifying than in the quiet of the mall or airport, hearing the single toot of a vuvuzela. It makes you run for cover.
But no matter how hard vuvuzela-lipped fans blow, they can't stop the magic brought by South American fans.
There is something about the swaying, velvet-like movement of the Latin fans during a game. There doesn't have to be much going on. Even before a game with music playing, you'll find someone by themselves standing in front of their seat, swaying hips and shoulders, oblivious to anything except the beat and the atmosphere.
When Argentina or Brazil get into the salsa, samba beat on the field, their fans do the same in the stands. It's almost erotic.
It brings the real soccer atmosphere to the World Cup. And that's all good.