Why the U.S. Can't Compete in the World Cup
      Thomas Christensen  

homeward bound


Yesterday French soccer star Zinédine Zidane explained the notorious head butt that more or less cost France the World Cup championship this year. His opponent, he says, "a dit des mots très durs, des mots plus durs que des gestes, des mots qui me touchaient au plus profond de moi et qui concernaient ma maman et ma soeur." ("He said some really rough things, worse than the usual stuff, things that cut me to the quick concerning my mother and sister.")

All I can say is this guy wouldn't last long in the NFL or NBA if he can't take a simple "yo mama." If that's all you need to take out a team's star, what good are our great American ghettos? They should be the equivalent of terrorist camps for trash talkers. Our players should be the Ph.D.s of put-downs, kings of contumely, experts of opprobrium, maestros of mockery.

The U S of A should be trash talking our way straight to World Cup victory. We have long lagged behind our international competitors in such fields as math and science. Are we now to fall behind in rudeness as well, until now one of our recognized strengths?

And therein lies our problem. An old joke asks, What do you call a person who speaks three languages? Trilingual. Two languages? Bilingual. Just one language: American.

So here, once again, we find ourselves limited by our linguistic shortcomings. The answer to our World Cup woes is to sharpen our skills. I propose that we add to our coaching staff a cadre of international streetwise translators and guttersnipes to help us vet our invective and sharpen our slander.

Our first loss was to Czechoslovakia. If only we had been able to scream "Ty debile zasranej!" when faced with a breakway, we might have saved a goal. We managed to tie the Italians. Would a timely "Porca piutana!" have put us into the victory column?

Others who now sneer soon would fear. "Vai a puta que te pariu!" we would holler at the Brazilians. We would call the Argentines "cabrones chingados, hijos de la puta!" "Wat jij nodig hebt is voedselvergiftiging!" we would cry to the Dutch. We would fell the Germans with a staggering "Dir hat wohl einer in's Hirn geschissen und vergessen zu ziehen!"

We wouldn't stop there. "Dol dae ga ri!" we would yell at the Koreans and "Wo xi wang ni man man si, dan kuai dian xia di yu!" to the Chinese (taking care to articulate the correct tonal values).

What about the French? Without the head butt they might have won it all. But would they have done as well in the face of "Ta mere suce des ours dans la foret!" delivered with the appropriate sang-froid, nasality, and end-stressed inflection?

And the Brits? Right now if we called them pillocks and plonkers and blighters and barmpots our men would not have the slightest notion what they were saying. Only world-class coaching can train our team to deliver such epitaphs with the fluency and conviction that it would take to earn us some victories.

We all know our athletes are the equal to any in the world. It is time we recognized that our failure on the world stage is a linguistic one. The time has come for America to buckle down and at last become a full-fledged member of the community of nations — the road to victory passes through our tongues.

Otherwise we're just a bunch of odiferous milk-livered dewberries.


MaterazziMaterazzi provoked Zidane.

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