Peter Goldstein

Peter Goldstein is a professor at Juniata College in Pennsylvania in the USA. He has been World Cup crazy since 1966. He will share his views about the past, present and future of this event.

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Korea/Japan 2002 -- The Incredible Truth

    Now that Korea/Japan 2002 is over, and the face of world football has been changed forever, it's time to take stock. As a public service, here's a chronology of the incredible events of the past month:

May 29 -- Sepp Blatter wins re-election as FIFA President by a vote of 97-96, with the decider cast by Sierra Leone in a last-minute switch. Defeated candidate Issa Hatayou of Cameroon vows to prove the election was illegally bought.

May 30 -- Romario, left off the Brazil squad, decries Felipe Scolari's negative tactics, saying "The jogo bonito is dead. Brazil can never win without me." Roberto Baggio, still recovering from a serious ligament injury, is spotted meditating 18 hours a day beneath a large tree outside of New Delhi.

May 31 -- The opening match, France-Senegal. Two minutes before the kickoff, a tearful Patrick Viera announces that he has "seen the light" and will compete for Senegal, the country of his birth, instead of France. He scores twice, but France wins 3:2 on two goals by Thierry Henry and one by Sylvain Wiltord. Arsenal is made the 1/5 favorite to win next year's Premiership.

June 1 -- Uruguay commits a World Cup record 73 fouls in its opening game against Denmark, but the only yellow card goes to Danish striker Ebbe Sand for a purported dive in the penalty area. Replays show he accidentally tripped over his untied shoelaces. Issa Hatayou calls for an investigation.

June 2 -- The first games in the Group of Death. Argentina wins 2:0 over 10-man Nigeria, with Taribo West red-carded in the 56th minute for attempting to read the entire book of Leviticus to the crowd. England draws with Sweden 1:1 on an injury-time free kick by David Beckham, and his wife Victoria is so excited that she gives birth in the stands. The child is named The Injury-Time Free Kick Against Whoever Those Guys In Yellow Were Beckham.

June 3 -- Group G begins with Italy-Ecuador and Croatia-Mexico, both scoreless draws. Brazil plays rough and defensively, but a surprisingly healthy Ronaldo scores the only goal to defeat Turkey 1:0. Romario calls a press conference and claims that Brazil would have scored 4 goals with him in the lineup. FIFA announces its "Kicks for Kids" initiative, which will present underdeveloped nations with one pair of cleats and one soccer ball for each child under the age of 10. Sierra Leone gets the first batch.

June 4 -- South Korea defeats Poland 2:0 on two penalty kicks. Japan defeats Belgium 2:0 on two penalty kicks. The day before their opening game with Portugal, the United States withdraws from the competition, claiming it needs all available able-bodied men for its upcoming war against Luxembourg. American Samoa is named as a last-minute replacement.

June 5 -- Portugal defeats American Samoa 35:0. Roberto Baggio, miraculously recovered from his injury, shows up unexpectedly in Japan. Twenty-five thousand Italian fans demonstrate at the Italian camp, demanding he be allowed into the squad. Giovanni Trappatoni refuses. Issa Hatayou claims to have proof that Mexico, who voted for Sepp Blatter, received a contract to manufacture and supply "Paco, The Official Sombrero of the World Cup" for the next five tournaments.

June 6 -- The first reports of hooliganism: English and German fans clash violently over which of the official mascots is the most hideous. Hundreds of South Korean and Japanese fans watch the fight and applaud politely. Uruguay commits a World Cup record 97 fouls against France, but no cards are issued. FIFA issues a statement saying how pleased it is with the way the officials have enforced the "no coaching from the touchline" rule. Senegal upsets Denmark, and a national holiday is declared.

June 7 -- The long-awaited clash between England and Argentina. Fifty thousand riot police surround the stadium, armed with water cannons and tactical nuclear missiles. Before the kickoff, David Beckham and Diego Simeone embrace in front of the cameras. In the 51st minute, Ariel Ortega scores on a blatant handball, which the referee misses. Five minutes later he scores the second goal on a brilliant run through half the England team. England gets a late goal but loses 1:2, and Argentina clinches first place in the group. The United States invades the Falklands.

June 8 -- Italy plays Croatia. Alessandro Del Piero misses 4 easy chances, and the game ends 0:0. Scolari goes for more offense, starting Denilson alongside Ronaldo, and Brazil defeats China 4:1. Romario calls a press conference to announce that Brazil will have a more favorable balance of trade with him in the lineup.

June 9 -- Group G sees its fourth consecutive scoreless draw, Mexico-Ecuador. Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi pleads for the inclusion of Baggio in Italy's next game. Trappatoni refuses. Civil war breaks out in Sierra Leone, with shocking reports of mass deaths from cleats and soccer balls used as weapons. Japan defeats Russia 2:0 on two penalty kicks.

June 10 -- South Korea defeats American Samoa 2:0 on two penalty kicks. Issa Hatayou claims to have evidence that Croatia, who voted for Sepp Blatter, was promised 40 million Swiss francs, a new federation headquarters, and Slovenia.

June 11 -- Uruguay commits a World Cup record 183 fouls against Senegal, but loses 1:0, and the Africans advance. The nation fills the streets in celebration, and Senegal suspends all income taxes for the next two years. Germany, trailing Cameroon 0:6, scores 6 goals in the final 15 minutes to get the draw they need to advance. To celebrate its qualification for the second round, the Argentine team attends a banquet hosted by Diego Maradona.

June 12 -- Argentina defeats Sweden for its third straight win, but the entire starting 11 is later disqualified for having ephedrine in their bloodsystems. England qualifies for the second round with a dramatic late goal against Nigeria by Sol Campbell. David Beckham announces that his third child will be named [insensitive racial insult removed] Beckham. The Dalai Lama pleads that Baggio be allowed into the squad for tomorrow's decisive game against Mexico. Trappatoni finally gives in.

June 13 -- Brazil starts Ronaldo, Denilson, Ronaldinho, and Elber, and defeats Costa Rica 7:2. Romario applies for Senegalese citizenship. The final games in Group G. Ecuador and Croatia play to another scoreless draw. Italy plays Mexico with Baggio in the starting lineup. The game is scoreless until the fourth minute of stoppage time, when a disputed penalty is awarded to Italy. As the crowd chants "Baggio! Baggio!" the man himself steps forward to take the spot kick, but just as he approaches the ball, the Buddha appears and takes him up into the heavens. Del Piero takes the penalty and misses. With all four teams even on points, goal difference, and goals, lots are drawn. Mexico and Croatia advance.

June 14 -- South Korea misses three penalty kicks against Portugal, and the game is drawn 0:0. Japan misses three penalty kicks against Tunisia, and the game is drawn 0:0. American Samoa plays Poland, but the press has all been invited to the official unveiling of the Sepp Blatter Bestriding The World statue, and the score is never officially reported. With China eliminated, Bora Milutinovic announces he has been hired by Mars to lead their team into the 2006 World Cup. The day before their second-round game against France, all 23 England players spend 7 hours practicing penalty kicks. The French take the day off and watch cooking shows on television.

June 15 -- The second round begins. The rested French beat England 3:0, with two goals from Thierry Henry and one from Sylvain Wiltord. Ireland, surprise winners in group E, play Paraguay. Cesare Maldini keeps all 11 players in their own end for 120 minutes, and the game goes to penalty kicks. The shootout is tied at 4:4, when Jose Luis Chilavert suddenly quits the team to run for President of Paraguay. With the net empty, Roy Keane takes the winning kick for Ireland. Special FIFA peace envoys to Sierra Leone, led by Michel Zen-Ruffinen, are set upon by cleat- and ball-wielding Marxist rebels, and are forced to hole up in a bunker at the airport in Freetown.

June 16 -- Issa Hatayou flies to New York to investigate reports that FIFA agreed to teach the United States the offside rule in exchange for their vote. The United States is about to invade Cameroon, but relents when a White House poll indicates that black voter turnout will decide the 2002 Congressional elections. Argentina, playing with their second 11, loses to Senegal. In celebration of the historic victory, the Senegalese government disbands. Spain, so far completely ignored by their fans on the assumption that they're going to choke at some point, defeats Germany to advance to the quarterfinals.

June 17 -- Brazil starts Pele, Tostao, Jairzinho, Zico, and three lineal descendants of Garrincha, and defeats Russia 12:4. Before the Mexico-South Korea game, a ceremony honors 33-year-old Mexican captain Claudio Suarez on his record 180th cap. The Japanese referee denies 12 Korean appeals for penalty kicks, but the Koreans win 1:0 on an own goal by Suarez.

June 18 -- The last games of the round of 16. The Korean referee denies 12 Japanese appeals for penalty kicks, but in the 76th minute, 50,000 Japanese fans snap their cameras at the same time, momentarily blinding the Turkish keeper, who lets an easy back pass roll into the net. Japan wins 1:0. Croatia mysteriously fields four players from already-eliminated Slovenia, but Portugal wins anyway to advance to the quarterfinals.

June 19 -- The first day off. Irish fans drink every bottle of alcohol in South Korea, then board a chartered ship for Japan. On the fifth day of the siege in Sierra Leone, FIFA offers terms: if the envoys are allowed to depart unharmed, FIFA will build a 120,000 seat stadium in Freetown, and give all citizens a free pair of Adidas shoes, their choice of style. The rebels refuse.

June 20 -- Another day off. Issa Hatayou is in Antarctica, investigating reports that a colony of emperor penguins have been spotted in full kit. Irish fans drink every bottle of alcohol in Japan. The first 50 Spanish fans arrive.

June 21 -- Just before Brazil's quarterfinal with France, Nike announces that it has cancelled Ronaldo's endorsement contract. Ronaldo has a shaking fit in the locker room and is unable to play. Scolari panics and starts ten defenders, five of which are former members of the Turkish police. France wins 1:0 with a goal that deflects in off Dunga's brass knuckles. As the teams enter the stadium at the Ireland-South Korea game, 25,000 Irish fans rise as one, then sway and collapse. The Korean fans applaud politely. South Korea wins 1:0 on a penalty kick.

June 22 -- The entire nation of Senegal, 10 million strong, shows up for the quarterfinal with Japan, all together waving the largest flag in the history of the world. The Japanese fans applaud politely. Japan wins 1:0 on a penalty kick. Spain and Portugal meet in a pulsating Iberian derby. Luis Figo scores in the 92nd minute to give Portugal a 3:2 lead, but Raul answers 30 seconds later to send the game to extra time. Fernando Morientes scores the golden goal on a magnificent bicycle kick. Two hundred more Spanish fans buy plane tickets.

June 23 -- The siege in Sierra Leone enters its ninth day, and the FIFAns, forced to eat their cell phones, are cut off from all contact with the outside world. Three thousand more Spanish fans buy plane tickets.

June 24 -- The United States announces that it will cease military operations, having successfully invaded every country in the world with a population of under 5 million. In a last-ditch effort to save the FIFAns in Freetown, Sepp Blatter himself flies to Washington to persuade the USA to invade Sierra Leone. The Americans check their almanacs, discover that Sierra Leone is over 5 million in population, and refuse, citing a need to cut down on defense spending. In a stunning last-minute rush, 40 million Spaniards get tickets to fly to Korea for the semifinal, virtually emptying the country. The United States invades Spain.

June 25 -- The first semifinal. Sixty thousand Spanish fans have somehow crammed themselves into the stadium, and the Spaniards respond with the greatest effort in their World Cup history. Shrugging off South Korea's 8 penalty kicks, they play dazzling football, and score at will. They are leading the game 11:8 with only seconds to go when the ecstatic Spanish fans, unable to control their joy, pour onto the field in celebration. The match is abandoned and awarded to South Korea.

June 26 -- The second semifinal. With an eye on the many penalty kicks awarded to the home teams during the tournament, France refuses to play unless a referee is appointed from outside the original approved list. In order to save the competition, Japan agrees. FIFA names former supervisor of referees Michel Vautrot. The game is played, and no penalty kicks are awarded, but France loses when Vautrot inadvertently adds on twenty-six extra minutes to the second half, during which Japan scores two goals to overcome the French lead, and wins 2:1.

June 27 -- With South Korea and Japan in the Final, the long-simmering antagonism between the two nations starts to surface. Both sides hire professional hooligans from England, Germany, and Argentina, and special planes arrive containing Dutch ultras, former KGB interrogators, and the entire Arsenal roster. Violent clashes break out all over both countries, and in the most frightening sign of all, the home fans no longer applaud them politely. An ominous silence from Sierra Leone.

June 28 -- Tensions increase. Public order disintegrates. Both countries reveal that they have been illegally stockpiling nuclear weapons for the last 40 years. The United States, its entire gross national product now diverted to the making of flags, refuses to intervene. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan arrives in Yokohama, but his plane is surrounded by crazed Japanese corporate executives with specially-outfitted lethal palm pilots, and he is forced to take off. Still no word from Freetown.

June 29 -- The day before the Final, and war appears inevitable. The prime ministers of South Korea and Japan appear on world television with 30-minute final speeches, which translate identically as "Kill them." Each then reaches out to press the button which will lead to annihilation -- when suddenly the Freetown blackout is lifted. Michel Zen-Ruffinen appears on all broadcast frequencies simultaneously. He announces that the besieged envoys have joined with the rebels and taken over Sierra Leone. He further announces that he has assumed command of FIFA, and from now on world football will no longer be in the grip of greedy capitalists. Television and corporate sponsorship will never again be allowed to dictate the terms of competitions. From its new offices in Sierra Leone, FIFA will devote all its energies to keeping the beautiful game beautiful. Diving, fouling, and time-wasting rules will be strictly enforced, awards will be given for the most entertaining and aesthetically pleasing teams, and annual free-of-charge festivals of football will be held in all nations of the world. World Cup berths will now be determined by fair play rankings as well as results, and all revenues from the tournament will be devoted to ending world poverty and hunger. Sepp Blatter, watching the broadcast from his penthouse hotel suite in Seoul, announces he will support Zen-Ruffinen. Issa Hatayou, currently in the Marianas Trench interviewing plankton, agrees. The football federations of all countries joyfully announce their approval of the new FIFA. The prime ministers of South Korea and Japan call off the military alerts, and street fighting ceases. Spain and France celebrate by cancelling the third-place game, instead joining in a two-hour rendition of "We Are the World."

June 30 -- The Final. South Korea and Japan play what is universally regarded as the greatest game in the history of soccer. Both teams attack for 90 minutes, and although some brilliant individual defense is played, not a single foul is called. In the first half, two spectacular goals from Hidetoshi Nakata are answered by two equally spectacular goals from Hwang Sun-hong. In the second half, save after miraculous save by Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi and Lee Woon-jae leave the crowd breathless, and at full time the score is 2:2. The teams come out for extra time even more committed to attack, but despite the furious action, Kawaguchi and Lee keep the ball out of the net. Finally, with only seconds remaining before penalty kicks, Hong Myung-bo, South Korea's famed veteran sweeper, playing his last international game, unleashes a tremendous 30 yard shot that caroms off both posts and crosses the goal line. South Korea wins 3:2. Both teams take thirty-five victory laps, and the crowd stands and cheers for six hours. Roberto Baggio appears from the heavens and blesses the stadium. Germany, scheduled host of the 2006 tournament, proposes instead that the World Cup be held permanently in South Korea and Japan. The members of FIFA vote their unanimous approval. Michel Zen-Ruffinen is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

June 31 -- Joćo Havelange emerges from retirement to announce the establishment of a rival FIFA which will expand the World Cup to 64 teams. Early reports indicate considerable interest from sponsors and federations worldwide.



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