The World Cup Alphabet – J is for…

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… JULES RIMET

As I’ve previously mentioned in earlier stories, without Jules Rimet there would be no World Cup.

 

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The Frenchman was born in 1873 and while working as a lawyer in Paris in 1897 he formed Red Star. The club, the second to exist in France, was started by Rimet to include people of all class, colour and creed and still does to this day. Red Star is a total opposite to their crosstown rivals Paris Saint Germain, a club now funded by oil money, supported by some of the more violent far right elements of the Parisian sporting public and represent all that is wrong with modern football. Then again PSG are one of the top teams in Europe and Red Star languish in the third division so perhaps the house always wins.

 

When he helped put FIFA together in 1904 Rimet already had plans for a World Cup. After serving in the First World War and then becoming FIFA President in 1921 he was happy to have the Olympics as the decider for the World’s best for now. Yet in 1928, the IOC decided to dump the sport for the LA Games which led to the creation of the World Cup. Rimet lead the way with his vision that football could unite the world in a time of diplomatic suspicion, gossip and confession.

 

Rimet had the trophy struck up, carried it in a bag with him on the same vessel as the European teams who traveled to Uruguay and make history. Uruguay was a controversial choice but at the time wasn’t tainted by politics, was about to celebrate 100 years as a country and had a professional league. This competition had to work. Rimet wanted the World Cup to represent the old chivalry of sport from medieval times. Times of the virtues of hard work, honesty and fair play among other things made better men. The World Cup next going to Fascist Italy in 1934 was probably not the way to go about it if wanting to extol those virtues.

 

Rimet would be President of FIFA until 1954. He was instrumental in trying to get the tournament back on the calendar following the Second World War. Wanting FIFA to live on where the League of Nations had not, he had the 1950 tournament played in Brazil rather than wait for Europe to get its thoughts together. The tournament picked up where it left off but without a war looming. Even England, a country that had seen FIFA and the World Cup as beneath them, joined the party being eliminated by the Yanks. Rimet’s actions and single minded drive to keep the show going earned him a nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize but for whatever reason none was awarded in that year.

 

To honour Rimet, the famous trophy that he had got made up for the original tournament was named in his honour. Less than two years after he retired as FIFA boss he died at the age of 83. What would he make of the now bloated corrupt corporate beast he gave birth to? He’d probably be horrified yet happy with the fact his creation has now been held pretty much everywhere in world. Perhaps he wouldn’t have let it get to this. His negotiation skills were second to none. This was all from someone who didn’t even play the sport preferring sports like fencing.

 

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Pele with the trophy named after Rimet

 

Rimet once said that through football, the human race would one day achieve a state of humanist grace in which “men will be able to meet in confidence without hatred in their hearts and without an insult on their lips.” We’re not quite there yet but it’s a nice thought. Merci Jules.

 

… JOGA BONITO

 

While Brazil were back to back champions they, like most good teams, were worked out eventually.

 

They had been virtually kicked out of the 1966 World Cup in England with Pele being quite bitchy about the whole thing. He and the team slunk back to South America to rebuild a side that had won two titles but shown its age. Such was the disappointment in this effort that a Government inquiry was set up to see why Brazil had failed. It was serious business. It would take a while to fix too. Pele did retire for a while following his treatment in England. He was eventually coaxed back but the then coach Joao Saldanha had the team in pieces and even challenged the hardline militaristic President of the country at the time after dropping Dario, a presidential favourite.

 

When harassed about the selection decision Saldanha’s curt reply was “I don’t choose the President’s Ministry. He doesn’t choose my forward line.” Following a loss to Argentina at home the wheels were put in motion to get rid of Saldanha and they just needed one more excuse. Critcising Pele for not getting back and defending was all they needed. Criticising the favourite son of Brazil meant instant dismissal.

 

Mario Zagallo, a former teammate of Pele, had just retired from playing and the CBF took a risk hiring the untried coach who had nothing to offer but a philosophy. That philosophy was to not only have skilled players but players deemed ‘skillfully intelligent’. The style of football was called ‘joga bonito’ or ‘Play Beautifully/The Beautiful game” for those of us speaking the King’s.

 

By ‘skillfully intelligent’ Zagallo meant they knew their position and teammates inside out and just let them go nuts. Zagallo just saw the big picture and gave the players a blank canvas for the most part. This was long before there was the micromanaging of moneyball and the such dedication and professionalism in the sport. The team built its confidence slowly.

 

While they were doing that the world wondered who would win the 1970 World Cup between the European super teams of the time including the champions England, West Germany and Italy. In to this side that walked softly and carried a big stick were Jairzinho (‘The Hurricane’), Rivelino (‘The Atomic Kick’) and their captain Carlos Alberto who the rock for the side along with a whole gaggle of other talented players. There was also Tostao, a quite plain and unassuming attacking midfielder who would leave the game because of fame and become a doctor. Kind of like Tom Swift but with a lot more talent.

 

 

When the tournament started in 1970 ‘Joga Bonito’ was in full effect. Brazil creamed the opposition in their group winning all three of their games including one against the side that had taken their crown in England. Not even Gordon Banks’ “Save of the Century” could save England. They then knocked fellow South Americans Peru and then Uruguay. In the final they belted Italy and their ultra defensive style 4-1 in the midday heat of Mexico City. The final goal of the game was a work of art. Pele retired with four titles and the team got to keep the Jules Rimet Trophy for winning it for a third time. Arguably the greatest side to ever play in a World Cup.

 

In 1974 and 1978 the joy and spontaneity of that Brazil side disapeared as quickly as it came as Total Football and Germany’s system took over. In 1974 they drew with the likes of Scotland and went out in the second round. In 1978 they were strong in South American but Argentina’s very convenient result against Peru knocked them out again. By the 1982 World Cup another wonderful side had emerged with Tele Santana as coach. The players were the best in the world with a style again free range and exciting.

 

There was Zico the star playmaker with a temper as short as his skill was flamboyant. Falcao, the Italian based midfield general. Eder, the Rumpelstiltskin of football creating gold out of straw on the left wing and, finally, Socrates. Socrates was the iconic right winger with the headband, the actual medical degree and the smoking habit. We’ll discuss him another time.

 

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The greatest side this side of Holland in 1974 to never win a World Cup.

They were a side that walked through their group much like the 1970 team and were seen as almost unbeatable. They put four past Scotland and those poor Kiwis. Then in the second round the favourites were ditched. Against a rabble of an Italian side they came back twice but couldn’t overcome Paolo Rossi who scored a hattrick to shock the favourites. In 1986 they many of the same stars with Santana leading again. In the quarter finals they come up against a quite decent French side led by Michel Platini. They would go out on penalties, the favourites out again. For all the technocolour football they played it wasn’t winning them silverware. It seemed nice guys finished last. Maradona lifting the cup backed that claim.

 

After the 1986 disaster they strayed away from playing beautifully and went for Futebol Forca. This style was cynical, defensive and opportunistic football. In 1990 they were meek but in 1994 under Carlos Perreira they broke the drought albeit on penalties and with Romario up front tapping them in. It was a win but a hollow one to some. There was just nothing likable about them.

 

In 1998 with Zagallo back in charge and some wonderful players like Ronaldo now floroushing and they went back to being a team that could entertain. The trouble was there still no freedom and were now more a corporate machine rather than peace and love with a football. They would lose the final and then win it in 2002 but, again, not in the way that it was done in 1970. Every team since their 82 and 86 failures have been on the nasty side as joga bonito passed in to legend and then in to myth talked about by sad bastards looking back like myself.

 

Perhaps it was the talent of the individual that made these teams and not a specific mindset or culture within the team. Right place and right time etc. Will it ever return? You would hope so when you see what Klopp, Rodgers and Sarri do at club level. International Football tends to be a different dour beast these days though.

 

… JUSTICE

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Neymar isn’t dead lads…

This really could have been under S for Schadenfreude but sometimes a team rightfully gets what it deserves and oh we revel in it. We turned the tables on Uruguay that time and an evil West German side were denied in the final 1982 after cheating to get there.

 

Then there’s July 8 2014 and the semi final between Brazil and Germany in Belo Horizonte.

 

Brazil were hosting the 2014 event and were far from the 1970 or early to mid 80s sides mentioned above. They were a team of chancers, brats and players that couldn’t get near some previous incarnations. They had got through their group without impressing many. They kicked Chile and then Colombia all over the pitch in front of their overly expectant fans in the knockout stages.

 

Then came this game against Germany. A German side who were desperate to make the final after coming close the previous two World Cups. I cannot describe how extraordinary this game is for the goals or the reality check to an awful Brazilian side drinking their own bath water.  There’s also the fact the Brazilians treated the Neymar injury from the quarter final like he’s been assassinated, not that he had some foot ouch and would miss a couple of months.

 

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Cheer up mate. Pretend it’s Christmas.

 

Watch, enjoy and remember justice rides a black horse. Five goals in the first 29 minutes, Four goals in six minutes, Extraordinary.

 

 

 

 

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. george smith says:

    Thanks for memories of that awesome display by Germany against Brazil. Like many fans, I switched sides that night. After that you knew they were something special, and to lose the final would be an injustice…

    I liked 2002 though, that 2-0 final was pretty good, and you can’t fault a mob that makes a fool out of England!

  2. I guess it was a bit harsh on the 2002 side that had the three Rs (Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo) along with Roberto Carlos, Cafu as full backs. I’ve just never drunk the Brazilian kool aid.

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