European teams have a high chance of winning the World Cup. And that likelihood is a reflection of how the Old Continent has established its dominion in the soccer world, spiriting away talent from other regions through money. And look, I get it; the strategy is valid in the market society we live in today.
What pisses me off, though, is how European soccer, having all the power in its hands, has the indecency to complain and play the victim in the way some of the national teams – and their surroundings – have done during the tournament.
It's just an ugly ball full of bullshit and, worst of all, sprinkled with a hefty dose of old colonialist racism.
What made me think about this was the preposterous post-match interviews with Portuguese players Pepe and Bruno Fernandes. Instead of blaming themselves for Portugal's defeat against Morocco, both decided to accuse referee Facundo Tello of being part of a FIFA scheme to crown Argentina as the next world champions.
Amidst stupid claims, one phrase put me off.
"These officials don't referee in the Champions League, they're not used to this type of game, they don't have the pace for it," Bruno Fernandes said.
It does not sound that bad, but the quote shows the disdain with which some European soccer sectors see the rest of the world. It feels like Fernandes is talking from a fucking pedestal, saying or suggesting that "superior soccer" is played only in Europe and that whatever happens in other regions is just uncivilized or not worthy enough for the biggest tournament in the sport.
The worst thing is that he's not alone. Former German international Jürgen Klinsmann embarrassed himself a few weeks ago on the BBC by commenting on the game between Iran and Wales. Klinsmann criticized the physical style of Iran, saying that "it is part of their culture" and blamed Guatemalan referee Mario Escobar for not keeping tabs.
Asked by his interviewers if the game would have been different with an official from another country, Klinsmann didn't hold back. "It would have been a big difference with another referee. They had a Guatemalan referee. I worked in the USA for six years and went to Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica. This fits their culture [Iran] basically."
This is unbelievable…Watch @J_Klinsmann dismiss brown athletes, from Iran to Guatemala, repeatedly saying “this is their culture”, while the host and other guests are sitting there listening to him go on and on, live on @BBCSport.pic.twitter.com/RgOR3b1sr0
— Negar Mortazavi نگار مرتضوی (@NegarMortazavi) November 26, 2022
Shame on you, Jürgen. Shame on you, BBC.
By the way, nobody says anything about the bad performance of Dutch referee Paulus Van Boeke in the Argentina vs. Poland game, nor when English referee Anthony Taylor forbade South Korea the chance of trying to tie against Ghana by blowing the whistle at the end of the game before a corner kick.
And definitely, nobody pointed out the nationality of Spanish Champions League official Antonio Mateu Lahoz after his disgraceful performance in the Argentina vs. Netherlands match.
Maybe he was not used to this type of game or didn't have the pace for it.
But this is not only about referees.
Tough and manly Roy Keane became a sudden snowflake criticizing Brazil for their dance celebrations. The former Manchester United midfielder brought the old bucket of European ethnocentrism to say basically that the expressions of Brazilian joy were "disrespectful" to their opponents.
Roy Keane has doubled down on his criticism of Brazil:"I don't get how a manager can dance when the game is still going ahead, he's got an opposition manager ten yards away from him. The game is about respect. Dance afterwards in the dressing room, or in the nightclub." pic.twitter.com/5BCv74G7wl
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) December 9, 2022
Brazil's coach, Tite, responded perfectly, saying that those criticizing the celebration failed to recognize "the history and culture of Brazil." However, Keane doubled down his words because he probably thinks the European way of life is the only one that is proper.
Finally, we have the whole Argentina vs. Netherlands ruckus.
We all witnessed that both teams played dirty, but it seems to the eyes of the world that only the Argentines were the diablo. The photo of La Albiceleste celebrating the victory in the face of the Dutch players helps a lot in painting that portrait.
A photo that European media has exploited once again to play the victim role.
Here is English commentator Ian Darke throwing hate over Argentina after "taunting" the Dutch, for example.
Looking ahead to Argentina game tonight , impossible to get that picture of their players gracelessly taunting defeated Dutch rivals out of my head. Makes them a hard team to like. Karma comes round. Well sometimes.— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) December 13, 2022
I wonder if Darke saw the Dutch players harassing Lautaro Martinez before the last penalty?
They had people going into each Argentinian player going to the penalty trying to make them nervous. Domfries got a red card for that. Last penalty, Lautaro had 4 Netherlands players on top. Everything has an explanation. pic.twitter.com/Oa0xTdvx8R— dexsoul (@dexsoul85) December 10, 2022
I also wonder if Darke remembers how his countrymen "gracelessly taunted" defeated Colombian players in the penalty shootout they faced in Russia 2018. Probably not, because I'm sure he thinks European teams never do such things and this image has been photoshopped.
Coming back to the Dutch.
The Netherlands have a special aura behind them. Being the creators of total football sure helps in this image. But it seems nobody is counting the times when they have been complete assholes. Watch the game vs. Spain in 2010, watch the game vs. Chile in 2014, watch the game vs. Argentina in 2022.
Do they have a pass to be jerks? Probably, and the only reason that can justify it is that they are Europeans. Because if they weren't, Klinsmann would be saying that that "is their culture."
In this case, I'm not defending Argentina, Brazil or other countries – they all have skeletons in this closet.
My point is that you should not fall so naively for the European tears.
They are just bullshit.