A Personal History of the World Cup: Part Five
In 1994 I was 18 years old and football was no longer my raison d'etre. The Rotorua football pathway was not robust enough to sustain kids like me who were not good enough or strong enough for the men's first teams and there wasn't really a league structure in place for youth teams. I still played occasionally for the 1st XI, but we were playing 15th fiddle to the Rugby team and had scant resource or support.
I don't remember much of USA 94, but I suppose I must have kept an eye on it. I remember watching the final between Brazil and Italy, played in the blistering heat of the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
The match finished scoreless and Roberto Baggio, 'The Divine Ponytail,' skied his penalty over the bar to hand Brazil the match:
As one wag has mentioned the 1994 World Cup began and ended with a missed penalty, since Diana Ross fluffed her lines with this kick in the opening ceremony one month earlier:
The irony is that should this happen now the referee could order a retake since Diana's 'Paradinha' stop before the kick has been outlawed for South Africa 2010.
When I think of how the average American would have taken all this hype I am reminded of ths clip from The Simpsons, lampooning a World Cup final where Mexico and Portugal "battle it out to determine [who] the greatest nation on the planet is."
I can just see the US sports fan choking on his corn dog as the two 'superpowers' grind out a 0-0 draw: