The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
The new FIFA World Rankings are out, and I think they might be just what the world needs to take its mind off the fact that “money” is apparently no longer a good idea. Take America, for instance. Yesterday, this country was hurting. A man walking down the street wore the tight-mouthed, care-eaten look of someone who knows his homeland is objectively worse at soccer than the 27 nations ranked ahead of it. Today, everything has changed. Today that man knows that not only has his country leapt ahead of Ghana, it’s extremely close to Uruguay and not totally beyond the reach of Romania.
With a renewed spring in his step, he goes into the local college soda shop, orders up a frosty malted, and reads a wholesome Reader’s Digest until his eyes start bleeding.
Or take England. Yesterday, gloom had set in like a fog over the orphanages and clocktowers of London. Tiny, malnourished boys with ill-fitting top hats sneezed sadly from within the shaft of a chimney, thinking about Frank Lampard. Try as he might, neither that husky yeoman nor his contemporary Gerrard could find a way to take the country around Cameroon into the promised land of fourteenth place. But that was yesterday. Today, fourteenth place belongs to England, and all over the city, shy, retiring fathers who work murderous hours at the counting-house solely to keep abreast of the hated window tax are celebrating by furtively adding a tiny lump of coal to the fire they’re lighting in their clothes.
by Brian Phillips · October 8, 2008