In Praise Of The Third Place Play-Off
It’s Germany against Portugal tomorrow, in possibly the least important match of the World Cup. I’m really, really looking forward to it. The third-place play-off may seem like just some sort of FIFA marketing scam to shove another 50000 or so hardy souls into a stadium for a couple of hours and squeeze some more money out of them, but it actually owes more to something considerably more Olympian in spirit – the idea that, at least in the old days of the World Cup, the game was about finishing first, second or third, rather than merely winning or losing. Whether this was deliberate or not, I have no idea, but we know for sure that the World Cup was set up at least as a response to the massive success of the football tournament at the 1924 Olympics.
The “Bronze Medal” match (to give it what may or may not be it’s official name – the FIFA World Cup website calls it the Third-Place match, but you can hardly rely on that, can you?) is usually cracker, Since 1962, there has only been one match with less than three goals This exception was in 1974, in case you were wondering – and even then there might have been some guffawing at Poland beating Brazil 1-0. Presumably liberated of the stifling pressure of avoiding defeat, the players go out and do what they’re pretty good at. Simple.
Having put some sort of monstrous jinx on this match, I should quickly point out something that I forgot to mention earlier, which was that I had been collecting together a second folder of football music when all this hullaballoo started up earlier today. I thought about not doing it, for fear of being seen as doing it for the wrong reason… but then I thought, “what the hell”. I still have to convert some of the files to mp3s, though. So it may take a few days.