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Chris Hatherall - World Cup 2010 was a letdown

Published: 13 Jul 2010 - 06:45:49

So, it's all over; the stadiums are empty, the Fan Parks are closed, OR Tambo airport is heaving with people trying to leave the country and FIFA are counting their profits. But how does this World Cup really rank with those of the past?

There's a temptation to say that because it was Africa's first, because it was different, it will go down as one of the greats - and there's every reason to agree.

So why do I go home with a nagging feeling that it wasn't quite right?

- Joe Strange's top five WC moments / Terry Pierce: WC 2010 never caught fire / Will Tidey on Spain

There's certainly nothing to criticise South Africa for because anybody who doubted their ability to stage a World Cup is currently eating humble pie.

That includes German legend Uli Hoeness who said FIFA had made "their biggest ever mistake" by handing the tournament to a continent that had never been considered before.

In the end there were no fans murdered ,no hooligan outbreaks, no reports of thousands of supporters being robbed at gunpoint and no major security alerts.

Despite a few teething problems there were no real issues over transport, either, and fears that fans wouldn't travel because of concerns over safety or expense proved unfounded.

There were football highlights too; that remarkable match between Ghana and Uruguay, Spain's wonderful possession football, Giovanni van Bronckhorst's semi-final sizzler and Siphewe Tshabalala's Roy-of-the-Rovers opener for South Africa.

But still there's something nagging at the back of my head saying it was all a bit flat; all a bit half-hearted.

For a start the atmosphere at the grounds wasn't what I was hoping for.

There was no real African flavour, just a lot of noise from vuvuzelas that drowned out everything else. When Brazil played you couldn't hear the Samba beat, when Holland played the oom-pah band was muted and when England played - well, we all know how miserable that was.

The quality of the football was disappointing too, often played at half pace despite being football's first winter World Cup.

Only Germany showed the energy required to provide entertainment but others like Argentina, Portugal, England and France fizzled out far too soon.

Spain were worthy champions, by far the best team at the finals, and we all cooed over the quality of their technique and the slickness of their passing. But did they entertain? Did they provide us with moments to remember forever, highlights that will be enshrined as 'World Cup golden moments' in the Panini sticker albums of the future?

Maybe I'm just being greedy, maybe I'm swimming around in emotional and rose-tinted memories of Gazza at Italia 90, ticker-tape Argentina in 1978, Brazilian magic both ancient and modern and the majesty of France in 1998.

But somehow this tournament didn't quite hit the mark.

Of course, there is always the possibility that in time, once the highlights package is out and the Premiership is filled with new World Cup heroes, I'll change my mind.

But for now I feel like someone who has just turned off their television after a month watching Big Brother and wondering: Will it ever be as good as it used to be?

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Chris Hatherall
CHRIS HATHERALL has been covering football at the highest level - and Brentford - for 20 years. He has written for most UK newspapers and many overseas through the Hayters agency, and covers Premiership and Champions League football for publications in Japan, the Middle East and Ireland. He covers England at home and overseas, and this is his fourth World Cup where he hopes, once again, to see the trophy come back home.

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