Football: The Global Game

The World Cup Around the World
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"People keep telling us: `The idea of nations has been overtaken; it is dangerous, in the past. The future is about the construction of great groupings of peoples and the withering away of nation states. There is only one goal: a planet without frontiers.' Yet it only needs a national team to go on the pitch, a national anthem to be sung or a goal scored, for millions of people somewhere in the world to be as one, to unite in joy or disappointment. This is civilised chauvinism. Rules are respected, referees are obeyed. Players offer their hand to opponents whom they have felled. They fight for honour but also with honour." "Le Figaro" newspaper, Paris.

"Japan's national team learned a simple lesson from Sunday's 1-0 defeat and respectable performance against Argentina - good defence may be crucial, but a team needs to score to win. For Saturday's game against Croatia, Japan need to improve the accuracy and speed of their counter-attack formations, an element lacking in Sunday's game." "Asahi Shimbun" newspaper, Tokyo, reporting on Japan's first game at the World Cup finals.

"For the umpteenth time, God sent down Sinisa Mihajlovic to show us that he holds the fate of our team in his left foot, but this is exactly what should worry us the most. Nothing at all can be achieved without a full 90-minute collective effort. It would be a suicidal theory to keep pinning our hopes on Mihajlovic cancelling all previous mistakes with a single kick." "Sportski Zurnal" newspaper, Belgrade, after Yugoslavia's tense and edgy 1-0 win over Iran in their opening game on Sunday.

"In Bordeaux on Tuesday, the Scots should discover just how good their vintage is. The Norwegians will offer a marked contrast to Brazil, pragmatic rather than whimsical, relying on organisation rather than the South Americans' more fleeting, individual instincts. In the Stade Lescure, it seems it will need to be one of those matches straight out of Scotland's ledger of heroics." "Scotland on Sunday" newspaper, Edinburgh, looking ahead to the Scots' second game tonight.

"Croatia had to put on the table all the professionalism of their best players to exhaust the enthusiasm of the picturesque Jamaican team, an endearing squad of amateurs that provoked a colourful explosion on the terraces at Lens when, at the end of the first half, they equalised." "El Pais" newspaper, Madrid, reporting on Croatia's win over Jamaica on Sunday.