Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Star Wars

On Sunday night Real Madrid arrived at Otopeni airport. This event was trumpeted like they were ...well, I was going to say royalty, but if it had been Juan Carlos showing up, for example, there would have been much less fanfare. Like gods maybe. The TV stations all had someone stationed in the presidential lounge of the airport where the team would appear (why in the presidential lounge I have no idea, why they couldn't come through passport control and customs and baggage reclaim like the rest of us is beyond me, but you know these are overpaid and overhyped celebrities we're talking about), and the sports sections of all the Sunday evening news shows were all taken up with exciting trivia such as whether Posh Spice would be on the plane and what exact route the bus was likely to take from Otopeni to the Marriot Hotel. Two stations even elected to cover the arrival and subsequent bus journey live in all its detail. Really, I swear I'm not making any of this up.

The excitement continued to build on Monday with press conferences being covered in full, training ground action and various sundry bits of information. Then yesterday came the reason that this exalted bunch had deigned to touch down on Romanian soil and bless us all with their presence. The match against Steaua. ["Star Wars" as one channel oh so cleverly billed it - you see Madrid are all stars and Steaua means star. Oh ho.] Sadly, for Romanian football fans, many of whom had travelled across the country to watch this game, and who had played vast amounts for a ticket, Steaua had seemingly been watching too much awestruck breathless TV coverage themselves, and they too seemed to feel unworthy of being on the same pitch as the wealthy has-beens from the Bernabeu, capitulating miserably and losing 4-1.

Still, the upside of that result is that we won't have to endure weeks of Gigi Becali crowing on TV with the compliant Romanian media hanging on his every word. Even more pleasingly the killer third goal was scored by black Brazilian forward Robinho, thus being one in the eye for the bigot Becali and the racists who seem to make up a reasonable proportion of Steaua's fan base.

I have to say that the fawning arselicking of the Real team and their presence in Romania did the nation as a whole no favours. They're not messiahs, they're just overrated footballers. Steaua deserved to be in the Champions League group stages (much as it pains me to say it), and Romania is just as much part of Europe as anywhere else. This media-led prostration at their feet is pathetic. It's at times like these when I feel an understanding of those who can't stand football.


Anonymous said...

I went to see them play in Budapest in a friendly last year and the attention/overhype was embarrassing. They are the football equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters, a good marketing tool but only that, would they even be within the top ten teams in Europe now?

Andy said...

At the end of the game, with Madrid 4-1 up, Capello had the audacity/marketing nous to bring on Beckham and Ronaldo knowing that this was what people pay to watch, rather than workmanlike (but successful) performances from Emerton and Sergio Ramos.

He's just taking the piss really, isn't he?

Anonymous said...

I'll have to add some more to the "football debate" by saying that Olympique Lyon is far better than Real, without having such media coverage (at least in Romania).
Unfortunately I'll have to disagree with you on the Becali media coverage... We'll be seeing that creature on tv no matter what, no matter why, whether he (it?) enjoys winning a game by Steaua, or weeps over defeat. Media will have him presented anyway, because he (it?) will allways do something irrelevant or stupid, comment on anything, making easier for news reporters to get some coverage... And God Saves us when campaining for the elections will come, I expect that in order to keep mental sanity orders will be issued like in a earthquake: "switch off any electrical, electronical device, gas sources..." (though I don't expect having the a/m creature to talk to me from the stove).
On the other hand, while reading one of your other posts regarding Csikszereda, and the "taps ter", I should add that anyone who has read some history might understand the need of some megalomaniac ruler to be heared and cheered by the masses. And I don't think that throughout the history there is a hemisphere that eluded dictatorship, and it's needs.