View Full Version : Why am I bothering to go to Japan?!

The Omen
26-04-2002, 02:49 PM
I heard a news report saying that there is going to be hardly any tv coverage out there and none of the bars are planning on showing the games and then I read this report.... :sob:

'World Cup? Who Cares?!'

I have been putting off talking about the World Cup in Japan because I am still waiting for something to happen.

Japanese preparation so far has involved the cranking up of humidity levels and, erm, that's it.

Whilst the 'soccer' fans over here are doubtless getting excited by the prospect of the world's most popular international sporting event, there has been little, if any, interest from the general public.

In my home prefecture of Miyagi, the local organising committee has been holding the odd, half-hearted warm up event. But with little success.

One of these involved a free-entry exhibition match at the awe-inspiring, one-use-only, almost-bankrupted-the-city new stadium.

The match was billed as Japan v Korea. Who was actually playing I'll never know.

The Korean team was flown in specially and got twonked 8-0 in one of the most boring matches I have ever experienced.

The Japanese team that stuffed them was also one of the worst teams I have ever seen in my life. The fact that their score did not reach triple figures was testament to just how poor they were.

Fortunately for all concerned, almost no-one saw them play. I reckon the crowd in the 50,000 seat venue numbered well under 200 - and most of them were locals who had wandered along with toddlers and grandparents.

Then, of course, there was the World Cup Draw.

The single largest international event in the nation's history!

The lottery that would determine where the legions of visitors would be coming from and in which cities they would be staying!

The event that half of the planet would be waiting on tenterhooks to hear about!

Was it televised over here? Was it hell.

Eight TV channels and nothing on except a 20 second snippet of royal baby footage that was being repeated ad nauseum for the second day running.

They finally got round to mentioning who Japan would be playing, but only at the end of the evening news.

Many think that Japan doesn't deserve to host the event. If Ichiro Suzuki (Japan's all-conquering baseball-playing hero) hits a home run for Seattle Mariners during the opening ceremony, the final, or Japan's furthest ever progression in the tournament, there will be blanket coverage of him alone.

Television audiences are also very likely to be very low because all matches not involving Japan are on satellite channels.

My best bet in terms of watching a game is to fly home. This will also be cheaper than it would be for me to travel a few hundred kilometres north to Sapporo and back again.

However, of all competing nations, England are getting the greatest build-up.

Documentaries on hooligans are proving inordinately popular. Paranoia has led to some areas of the country taking measures against visiting 'Fooligans', with one town taking the frankly laughable measure of banning bicycles (because they might be used as weapons).

In Sapporo, they have it all planned out.

"We won't talk to them" is the locals' plan to deal with hordes of beered-up yobs.

"We won't even serve them in our shops", is their defiant cry.

They would do well to remember the last time they tried something similar. During the Nagano Olympics, some freaked-out locals put signs outside their shops saying "No Gaijin".

The gaijin (foreigners) naturally wandered in regardless with but a cursory thought as to what a gaijin might be.

However, England do have some advantages over other nations this summer.

Someone has told the Japanese that Owen and Beckham are celebrities. Consequently, they are god-like in popularity here even if most of their devotees would fail to recognise them in a line-up of two.

When ManYoo played in Tokyo in the InterContinental Cup thingy a couple of years ago, a football-ignorant comedian was hired to commentate and spent the whole match praising Beckham, on whom the camera focused regardless of where the ball was.

Even if the superstar twosome are injured, they should come along and sit in the stands. Home support would be guaranteed.

And as this is a country that does not understand the word 'tacky', if England were to arrive dressed as the Beatles and waving Union Jacks (a hugely popular pattern here) they will likely attract more fans than the Japanese team.

I'm not kidding. If you see Sven, can you tell him?

One event which did succeed, however, was the Mini World Cup five-a-side-tournament they held in Miyagi's spectacular indoor arena.

Fifteen 'international' teams turned up, their training having taken them to the peak of fitness, their set-pieces honed to perfection, their kit impeccable. And there was an England team too, none of whom had ever met before.

The opposition teams' tactics involved quick passing and pace. England's tactics were Not Shaving and Having A Large Girth.

Of course, we won.

The World Cup was heading back to Blighty, and the team were generously rewarded with a piece of paper for the captain and a plain white towel for each player. The runners-up got coffee mugs.

One indisputable truth was learned, however.

If someone like me can score in a World Cup Final, in Japan, against Brazil, then Michael Owen will have no problems come June 30.


Essential Japanese Phrase Of The Week
In Japanese: "Ne?" (pronounced like the "e" in "yet" and in a similar manner to a sheep baaa-ing)
Translation: "Eh?"

Interesting Japanese Word Of The Week
"Debusen" - an insult which means "one who is physically attracted to fat people."

Mentalist Website Of The Week
Man who collects beercans: http://www.linkclub.or.jp/~nariyuki/e_index.htm

26-04-2002, 03:37 PM
Omen, I saw a friendly the other day on Eurosport between South Korea and Paraguay.The stadium was packed out and the atmosphere the Koreans created sounded really good.
Most World Cups have sell outs at every game so this years will not be any different.I saw the holiday programme and they said the police would not accept any tolerance out there so the English fans had better behave.