Sunday, 11 July 2010

Left's flag carried by Spain's footballing Fabians

So the World Cup final - the single, largest collective exercise that humanity has yet devised.

For Next Left's political world cup, the left's banner is carried by Spain.

They are worthy heroes. Beyond their leftist government of Zapatero, Spain's growing football confidence on the global stage reflects a a long elusive fusion of Catalan republicanism - with seven Barcelona players in the side - with the Real Madrid right in this most complex of internal coalitions of football and patriotic identity.

If we wanted to stretch the point further, should we not see Spain's tika-taka touch, touch style as the very footballing expression of Fabian gradualism?

Let us hope they remember, as Carlos Puyol with his magnificently direct header in the semi-final against Germany, that the Roman general Fabius Cunctator famously had a strategy of two halves in his war with Hannibal:

For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays;

but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or all your waiting will be vain, and fruitless.

The Netherlands are of no fixed political abode, having begun in World Cup Group E's "group of political uncertainty" they remain in a Coalition stand-off which will continue long after the World Cup.

David Winner who wrote the fantastic 'Brilliant Orange' - "the Dutch think innovatively, creatively and abstractly about space in their football because for centuries they have had to think innovatively about space in every other area of their lives” - writes in today's Observer about how this emore pragmatic Dutch side is seen as symbolising a retreat from a distinctive Dutch liberalism.

Indeed, Spain are widely seen as co-inheritors of the legacy of Cruyff.

So football history says the Dutch deserve a World Cup. But on the football of 2010, and the World Cup politics too, Next Left will have to back Spain.

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