Yesterday was a painful day for many a South African as they crashed to a harsh 3-0 defeat to Uruguay. I missed much of the match as I was returning from Durban after watching Spain vs. Switzerland (Thankfully, I saw the pivotal penalty decision and the rest). The Spanish fans in Durban had just felt similar pain earlier on in the day with a shocking loss to Switzerland. The Swiss decided to relinquish their “neutral” status in time to prevent Spain from starting off a tournament they are favored to win.
But as for pain, if you are a football fan, you have felt it at one time or another and I have been there before. It is par for the course. My first real world cup memory was the 1990 world cup where Roger Milla shot to iconic status around the world with his shaking waist and timely goals. At that point, I thought everything should go the way of the team you support. I guess it’s no different now but then was different. When Cameroun lost to England, I was crushed. At the time they were the ones carrying Africa’s torch and I felt as Camerounian as the players. I think I would have been sad anyways if they lost but it was the way they lost. I came up with all sorts of conspiracy theories to explain why they did but they mainly rested on the whistle of the referee.
It is why I can identify with a local newspaper’s headline “Forlan, one-eyed referee and timid Bafana defer SA’s Dream.” One-eyed referee is generous compared to the standard I established in 1990. To me, the referee on that day was simply “blind, a cheat and on thoroughly on the side of England.” South African coach Carlos Alberto Parreira must have gone to the same school I went to because he was scathing in his attack on the referee. In the heat of the moment and in the aftermath of a bitter defeat you should be forgiven for childish reactions.
But that’s football isn’t it? You ride the highs, try to forget the lows and prepare yourself for the next one.