How Swede it is: the sports edition

Originally written for eVent! magazine [ep] on 04/20/06.

I was going to write an article about the Vancouver Canucks.  I was going to write about how the Vancouver Canucks had all the promise of a high school honour student and blew it away like said honour student joining a folk band and ending up as a session musician for “the other guy in Limblifter”.  It would have been the sort of epic, heart swelling sports journalism that they make Kevin Costner movies about, something about how hockey defines us as a nation.  I was even going to work in a bit about how this bed I bought from IKEA keeps falling apart just like Marcus Nasuland, for extra credit Swede baiting.

What can I saw though other than they blew it?  From there any joke I might want to make gets X-rated so the whole thing was scrapped.  Besides the fact is that it’s almost May and we should be putting aside our thoughts of hockey and starting to think about the world’s game, the beautiful game.  That’s right football, or soccer to us colonists, their professional season is starting to wind down but there’s still some excitement left and then there is the World Cup.

That’s right this is a World Cup year, which means for football fans it’s like a Christmas that comes once every fourth summer.  So it’s not like Christmas at all, but that doesn’t matter it’s still a magnificent time of the year, and the build up has been absolutely wonderful, crazy and strange.

Take for example the case of the manager of the English team Sven Göran Eriksson.  It’s been a hard time for Eriksson as of late. Whereas us Canadians treat Wayne Gretzky as almost a holy treasure, the English love to tear down their sports heroes.  This goes double for the English press and their always rocky relationship with whoever is in charge of the nation’s football team. 

Worse Eriksson’s got the disadvantage of being the first non-Enlishman to manage English, and a Swede to boot.  Aside from putting up with lame puns about IKEA furniture he’s had to contend with one English paper, the News of the World, setting up an undercover sting operation in order to get a story out of him.

This was not any ordinary undercover operation.  Nay, the News of the World had one of its reporters pose as a wealthy Arab Sheik, who invited the English manager to Dubai for some kind of sports consultancy opportunity.  While there the faux-Sheik managed to ply the Swedish England Manager with booze and get him to let his guard down and say a few things he should not have about the national team’s players including world celebrity David Beckham.

Imagine the Kelowna Daily Courier flying me to London England and then convincing Wayne Gretzky to meet me in England where I’d be posing as a member of the British Royal Family.  Then I would have to get Gretzky drunk enough to say insulting things about Mario Lemieux.  Actually wait a second that sounds like a great idea.  Expect to see that story in a few months provided I can secure the funding.

None of which gives you a definitive reason for switching from hockey to football and sadly I probably won’t be able to provide one before I run out of my ink allotment.  However it’s a World Cup year, and as I listen to the constant creaking of my IKEA bed threatening to fall to pieces on me I’ll have football on my mind, so it’s likely to come up again.