Top Marquee Player – The unassuming Arjen Robben who discretely orchestrated most of what the Dutch was destined to achieve. His non-flashy style would prove good enough to outdo a collective of spoiled heroes, just like a Robben who’d steal from undeserving thugs the trophy his nation always craved.
Best Game – Germany 4X1 England. The turning point of the competition. Other games held more surprises, goals, bewilderment. But this one got everyone’s attention and focus on a final that was not to be. Close second: Netherlands 2X1 Brazil.
Lowest Point – The annulment of the U.S.’s third come back goal against Slovenia. It had everything for the book of great redemptive stories. A bad call reduced it to just another proof of the fallibility of the current system.
Worst Gesture – The French coach refusing to shake hands with his South African colleague. Broadcast all over the world, it almost gave credence to xenophobic feelings against the French and cemented their reputation as the tournament’s sore losers.
Highest Bid – The 24lb replica of the World Cup trophy made out of cocaine apprehended in Colombia. While the real trophy is made of solid 18 carat gold, its fake gold-painted copy has a $1.5 million street value. The still-unidentified author of such of work of criminal art got one thing right, though, sort of: The replica was being sent to an address in Madrid, Spain.
Nauseating Signs – Corporate logos, repetitive jingles and purpose-free parades of national flags and anthems. Isn’t about time to divorce the militaristic notion of patriotism from sports competitions? Since when the practice of group or individual physical exercise is the government’s property?
Arguable Complaints – Against the Jabulani, the official ball used in South Africa. It may’ve been too light, too unpredictable, not enough tested, but it had reportedly been given beforehand to participants for input. And according to Adidas, its official maker, the majority approved it.
Mandatory Changes – The World Cup must have an instant replay system by its next edition, in 2014, Brazil. It’ll have to be quick, transparent, simple and accessible to anyone watching the game, period. Also, the use of theatrics to fake injury, and of artifices to waste the opponent’s time, and the players’ pushing and shoving within the box have to be better monitored, enforced and, if needed, punishable with harsher penalties.