Sometimes we want a team to win.
Sometimes we really want a team to lose.
We asked a few of our writers to tell us which team they absolutely did NOT want to win last summer’s World Cup.
I did not want the Netherlands to win the World Cup. I’m a great admirer of Dutch “total football,” but I am not a fan of some of the individual players on the team. As an Arsenal supporter, it is very difficult to support Robin van Persie’s national team! And while Arjen Robben has incredible skills, his penchant for diving also prevented me from supporting the Oranje. It is a shame when anyone dives to gain a competitive advantage, but it is more disappointing when one of the game’s greatest does so, because it sticks in the minds of many and they associate soccer with this form of cheating rather than beauty, skill, speed, and strength.
–Mike Austin is editor of the book The Olympics and Philosophy. He teaches philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University
Italy. Their win in 2006 came in part by provoking Zidane through a crude insult, and I loved France’s team at the time. Furthermore, their cautious, defensive style is completely uninspiring. It often yields results, but it is boring and clinical. The positive, attacking passion is missing from their game. The only redeeming quality for Italy in 2014 was the brilliance of Andrea Pirlo. But he was surrounded by a morass of harsh-tackling, defensive thugs.
–Scott Waalkes teaches political science at Malone University
Uruguay. The reason? Luis Suarez. Need I say more?
–Graham Tomlin is dean of St Mellitus College
For once I didn’t have a least favourite team. Germany is the traditional bête noire of English football supporters, but along with most of my compatriots, I have learned to admire the Germans’ resilience, determination, indefatigability, perseverance, and fair play. Perhaps I would have been disappointed if one of the teams overly given to fakery had won. I am not in a hurry to criticize different sports for different standards of fair play, but trying to get an innocent opponent sent off by pretending to have been hit in the head strikes me as beyond the pale by any standards. Italy did a lot of this faking – Balotelli gave a ridiculous example in their last match – and I wasn’t sorry when they went out to Uruguay, even given Suarez’s vampirism. The teams varied a lot in this dimension. This was brought home to me when Thomas Müller seemed to fake a head injury in an early Germany game. I found myself shocked at the idea of a German cheating like that, where I would have regarded it as normal from many other teams.
–David Papineau is professor of philosophy at King’s College London
The Brazil of Pelé, Socrates, and Garrincha seems more mythical than historical these days. The nation’s storied football reputation is artfully grafted into their marketing and branding, but it has been sacrificed on the field for a retrograde, cynical style that prizes winning above all else. Added to this was Luiz Felipe Scolari’s bellicose patriotism throughout the World Cup, which only further masked the team’s weaknesses. They scraped past Chile and Colombia but got their comeuppance in the humiliation against Germany. It was hard not to feel sorry for the Brazilian players, who were forced at last to confront the reality of their shortcomings. If this was a lesson, though, the appointment of Dunga as new manager suggests they have yet to understand its implications.
–David Mutton writes for the DishWorld Sports Blog and for his own blog, The Silly Mid Off.
Brazil. I know, I know, I’m a horrible person! Here’s the thing, though: I felt like FIFA and the news/sports media created a script in which Brazil was predestined to win the World Cup – because they are Brazil. Even before the tournament began, I thought, there were other teams that were more complete on the field and had deeper reserves of talent. Not that the Brazilian players weren’t talented. I just didn’t like feeling that the end was preset and the tournament was merely a formality.
–Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff is author of The Making of Les Bleus: Sport in France, 1958-2010
Brazil! Bloated pig with lipstick, dressed in canary yellow and royal blue. Commentators should have seen their collapse coming from the opener with Croatia, when Luka Modric, not Neymar, was the best player on the field. But it took a 7-1 thrashing by Germany for the world to wake up to the fact that Brazil aren’t very good at soccer anymore.
–Robert Kehoe III writes for Howler, Point Magazine, and American Soccer Now
Italy. I’ve never forgiven them for the way they cheated their way to victory against Australia in the second round of the 2006 World Cup. However, I remain hopeful that the Australian Matildas will right this injustice at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.
–Brett Hutchins is co-author of Sport Beyond Television: The Internet, Digital Media and the Rise of Networked Media Sport. He teaches media studies at Monash University.
England. Anyone But England. Perhaps it’s a holdover from following cricket, but I’m weary of the English sports writer’s relentless myth building, the never-ending suggestions that all manner of sporting rectitude flows from England – that a win for England is somehow a vindication of the sporting good, that it will set standards for everyone else. I find English commentators and journalists a little too in the thrall of unexamined prejudices (especially in cricket) and could not bear having an English win at the World Cup make their writings even more pompous. I’m going to leave English fans and the English team out of this. The former have improved their behavior, and the latter are just doing their job.
–Samir Chopra is author of Brave New Pitch: The Evolution of Modern Cricket. He teaches philosophy at Brooklyn College