The World Cup Alphabet – N is for…




They’re a scourge of the sport and used as a stick to beat it with. The 0-0 draw is never welcome. Sometimes (and when I really mean sometimes) there is a 0-0 draw high on drama and tension but most of the time they do disappoint.


Remarkably the World Cup has only been blighted by these results in recent times more often than not. The first 0-0 wasn’t until 1958 wen Brazil and England along with hosts Sweden and Wales had the honour of letting everyone down. There were four in 1962 signifying how disappointing that tournament in Chile was.


As more defensive sides came in to the picture along with more advanced tactics there was more of a pattern. Uruguay and England opened the World Cup in 1966 with one, the first of two for Uruguay in the tournament. In 1974 along with a record four other 0-0 draws Australia got in on the act boring everyone to tears in West Berlin along with Chile.


1986 in Mexico, one of the more exciting World Cups, only had three. Italia ’90, one of the worst, had five including the draws in the knockout stages that would unfortunately go to penalties. Then in 1994 the showpiece event finally let us down with a 0-0 draw. The Final was played in searing mid-July Californian heat between two sides who had played a game every 4-5 days for a month. It wasn’t really a surprise. There were only two other scoreless draws in the entire tournament.


In the past three tournaments there have been seven at each one which is very disappointing. Some teams, especially in the latter stages, just don’t want to risk mistakes and sit back. Some teams know they’re playing someone better and sit back. Some sides, like England in Brazil, are just awful and couldn’t score to save themselves. Let’s hope this trend changes and especially in the showpiece games. A classic final in the first time for forever would be nice.


In total there have been 66 0-0 draws. Of course, if you offered be a 0-0 draw with France on Saturday week I’d bite your hand off.





An evil corporation that exploits workers and may have been behind the Ronaldo mystery before and during the 1998 final but many, including myself, used to look forward to the World Cup Nike Ad every four years.


The first of note was in 1994 and a Dutch made ad. I seem to remember it on the coverage and also on Wide World of Sports. It featured a host of then stars including Bebeto, Romario, Cantona, Maldini and Wright kicking the ball to each other over continents. Innovative for its time. A shame that some of the players in the ad didn’t actually end up going to the World Cup in the USA.



In 1998 Nike had their claws well and truly dug in to the Brazilian national side. The ad they had for France 1998 had the defending champs passing the time in an airport by having a kickaround. It was all fun and Brazilian and samba-ish. A memorable ad also featuring Cantona again as a bemused plane passenger. The foretelling moment was at the end when Ronaldo missed an easy to shot letting everyone down. A bit apt considering his ghost-like appearance in the final of France 98.



In 2002 Cantona was again used as the face of the Nike. This time he was in charge a 3 v 3 tournament in a ship featuring the world’s best. Again, it was a fun ad showing off the skills of the World’s best skilled and best paid. What boots were they advertising? Never even took notice.



For 2006 they went a bit guerrilla for the campaign which was a bit of a flop from the big cinematic commercials. The ‘Joga Bonito’ campaign, again led by Cantona, was all about shutting down cynical football and displaying the sport by taking over television stations etc. It never really took off with the experiment and making it a more internet based campaign.



With the massive success of their ‘Next Level’ ad campaign (directed by Guy Ritchie no less!) they went back to what they knew and put out the epic ‘Write the Future’ commercial. It featured the 70s German prog rock classic ‘Hocus Pocus’ as the soundtrack and starred the new breed of stars led by their number one asset Christiano Ronaldo.


The commercial is about the repercussions of doing good or bad on the football pitch and is quite surreal. The commercial also features Wayne Rooney with a beard living in a caravan (which didn’t happen in the future) and Christiano Ronaldo getting a statue (which did).



In 2014 there were two campaigns. The cartoon ‘The Last Game’ featuring a bevvy of stars which didn’t make sense but then again most of us saw it at 2am in the morning at half time in a game. There was also the ‘Winner Stays On’ ad featuring teens in the park turning in to their heroes. Neymar was now part of the Nike stable and featured with Ronaldo, Rooney, Zlatan and the others. Another fun ad which was what they did best.


It now seems to be over. Perhaps because the US aren’t there. Perhaps they’ve changed focus. We’ll always have these (and the Euro ones) to go back to. The best by far was the ‘Next Level’ commercial for Euro 2008, the story of a player rising through the ranks and as mentioned before, directed by Guy Ritchie.


About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Dilettante. Traffic Nerd. Behind the Almanac World Cup 100. Keen Cat, Cardie, Socceroo/Matilda, Glory Bhoy.

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