Casual Fan's World Cup: Les Incompétents

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En le crappeur
Editor's note: From time to time, The Snitch, being at best a casual fan of World Cup soccer, will provide glimpses into the experience of same.  

Your good old nameless Americans suffered quite the historic setback on Friday, but at least they aren't French: As their team's implosion becomes the World Cup's best drama, Les Bleus became a media meme over the weekend -- and they didn't even play a game. Coach Raymond Domenech appears to have totally lost control, as his side refused to practice Sunday in protest, a sign of solidarity for Nicolas Anelka being thrown off the team (for, reputedly, cursing out Domenech). French tabloids called the "labor strike" "pathetique," but the message in the U.S. media was a familiar one.

Even the Los Angeles Times couldn't resist slapping the easy, oh-so-cutting "surrender" label on France's football side. Others, like the Wall Street Journal, went for references to Jalbert and Jean Valjean, but the message is all one: The French team is le fucked.

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Le Tired


France is known for inconsistency at the World Cup. After winning the trophy on home soil in 1998, it crashed out in ignominious style in 2002, playing three games without scoring a goal and losing the opening game to its former colony, Senegal. France went to the top again in 2006, reaching the final against Italy when then-captain Zinedine Zidane was the meme of the tournament with his Coupe Du Monde Coup de Boule.

The French are in danger of repeating their 2002 disintegration. The team tied Uruguay 0-0 -- and was the first to complain about vuvuzelas, with team captain Patrice Evra saying teammates couldn't hear each other -- before losing to Mexico 2-0 on Thursday. The team's director has resigned, and embattled coach Domenech is criticizing team officials back in Paris. Will they practice today? That's unknown, and now Evra is saying there's a traitor on the locker room.

The French play host team South Africa on Tuesday -- that is, if they don't storm off first. According to the LA Times, "On Sunday, one of Europe's top bookmakers starting taking bets the French would go home before their final match."

Casual Fans can't put money down on something like that, not without a fair handicap. Specify which major French military setback will trend highest in Twitter searches, otherwise the meme is off.

States Alive, Despite Screwjob


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Casual Mess


Backers of Team USA have something to complain about, after puzzling officiating cost the Yanks a win on Friday.

There's no way else to explain why -- and how -- the U.S. "officially" tied Slovenia, 2-2, after Maurice Edu blasted home the United States' third goal on a 85th-minute free kick.

Referee Koman Coulibaly ruled the goal no good without explaining himself; only the later match report indicated a foul on Edu, whose coach and countrymen in media could barely contain themslves.

Imagine a Giants grand slam in the playoffs wiped clean, or a Sharks OT goal nullified, without even a reason. The kickback on sports talk radio would collapse the airwaves.

Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley drowned his sorrow in Chappelle's Show DVDs, he announced via Twitter. More than the team's pretty face, Landon Donovan put on a brave one on for his Facebook followers. And former US player Cobi Jones second-guessed the whole squad.

For his part, phantom goal scorer Edu was happy that Kobe Bryant has gone home,  telling the New York Times: "With the N.B.A. being over now, I think there will be a lot more attention focused on us. Hopefully, we can get out of our group and give the country something really to be proud of and something to really support."

Casual Fans are at their best when there's no Kobe competing for attention, but the gray area introduced by the no-goal clouds the casual conception of the World Cup. At least when the fix is in in basketball, we get a press conference.

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