Pogba did not understand the sport
It’s hard to imagine what would have happened if Australia had delivered another spectacle on Tuesday evening in far-off Sochi. A win against Peru and Bert van Marwiijk’s team would have taken them out of the tournament with a 0-0 draw in Moscow, because France and Denmark had decided to do more than play football. In 1982, Austria and Germany had already exaggerated it once. This is still called the “shame of Gijon”. Germany’s 1-0 win at the time was enough for both teams to progress to the detriment of the Algerians. Thousands of the crowd took out their white handkerchiefs and showed them: This has nothing to do with sport, with fair play. And in Moscow? Can we criticise the behaviour of the teams that were only looking for safety and delivered an unspeakable football match?
Christian Eriksen was asked the question after the match against France: Are you an entertainer or are you only responsible for the result? A difficult question. If Denmark storms to show the 80,000 spectators in the stadium and around the world a beautiful face of their football and loses, so that in the end they have to go home, coaches and players would be laughed at for their naivety. If the team had risked too much Tricolore and would have finished second in the end, this would also have caused public criticism.
The balancing act between ethics and results
Sure, it’s a balancing act, yet the ethics of this wonderful sport are that you do it to win, that you give everything you have to win in the end. That’s the sport. Swimming slower, jumping less – that is also unthinkable. Not really giving everything to score a goal, that also contradicts the spirit of football. The majority of the spectators in the stadium had no understanding for the attitude of the two coaches and 22 players, they whistled their displeasure out into the world. They had invested a lot of money and effort to make the dream of a World Cup game come true.
The game in Moscow must have seemed like a bad movie to them. At least like an ugly one. Just as the performance of a dull peasant piece on the Milan scale, so did the protagonists’ play in the wonderful setting of the Luschniki Stadium.
Pogba’s confused justification
Only the Danish fans cheered after the match, they fully agreed with the non-attack behaviour of their team. The French and neutral viewer saw it differently. But the end justified the means on that day. This is justified in the context of a World Cup, the most important tournament on earth. But the two teams have to live with the fact that they are criticised. You’ve done yourself a favor, but you’ve hurt the sport. In a world where the defeats of the national football elite are increasingly being interpreted as primordial catastrophes, this should come as no surprise. To believe that a World Cup is all about beauty and fair play is absurd and unrealistic.
Denmark and France have done right and wrong – at the same time. The big challenge is to just leave it there and admit it. But when coaches and players can’t even see the needs of the audience and don’t understand, they are on very fragile paths. The Dane Eriksen apologised for his team’s match. That was right and proper. The viewer can accept such a thing much better than any teachings of out-of-theordinary professionals. Just like Paul Pogba did. He said: I do not know what they expected. That we win 10-0 or 5-0? We need fans, not spectators. The man has probably not yet fully understood the sport.