Dave Barry

Dave Barry: Blowing the vuvuzela is the new World Cup tiebreaker

I am pleased to report that the World Cup governing body, FIFA, has finally offered an official explanation of the controversial call in the U.S.-Slovenia game by referee Koman ``Ray Charles'' Coulibaly of Mars. According to FIFA's statement, the call -- which cost the U.S. a win -- was made because the referee, quote, ``observed a traveling violation by U.S. player Joe Maca.''

Some Americans questioned this explanation, pointing out that (1) there is no such infraction as ``traveling'' in soccer; (2) Joe Maca has not played on the U.S. national team since 1950; and (3) he died in 1982. But soccer purists argue that this nitpicking is one more example of how Americans do not grasp the free-flowing beauty and subtlety of international soccer, and need to get over their anal-compulsive need to know exactly what the rules are, how much time is left in the match, why the players are constantly falling down and making the ``Y'' sign from ``YMCA,'' etc.

At this point, it doesn't matter what the official explanation is. All that matters is that the U.S. team now faces a critical match against Algeria on Wednesday. It's going to be a tough challenge, as we learn from this insightful analysis by ESPN soccer experts during a recent broadcast:

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We regret that we are unable to bring you the insightful analysis because of the colorful sound of the vuvuzelas, the ancient traditional plastic horns manufactured in China that South African fans blow from dawn until far into the night to express joy, sorrow, encouragement, criticism, hope, and -- above all -- ``bwaaa.''

The good news is, the U.S. does not absolutely have to defeat Algeria. Even without a win, our team could still advance in the tournament under the following scenarios:

The U.S. ties Algeria, and England loses to Slovenia or ties Slovenia but scores fewer than two more goals than the U.S. Or . . .

The U.S. ties Algeria, and Slovenia defeats England, but then it turns out that there really is no such nation as ``Slovenia.'' Or . . .

The U.S. loses to Algeria, but then England and Slovenia both lose to each other, which is an outcome that we cannot completely rule out given the free-flowing beauty and subtlety of international soccer.

So despite the bad call, there is hope for the U.S. team. This is more than you can say for the French team, which -- I am not making this up -- went on strike. Yes! They went on strike during the World Cup. This has to be one of the most spectacular exhibitions of Frenchness in the history of Frenchitude.

Why did the French players resort to such an extreme measure? Here's a report from an ESPN soccer analyst on the scene in South Africa:

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Sorry! We will have that report for you just as soon asthe colorful vuvuzelas stop blowing, probably in August of 2014.

But for now we must forget about France's problems and focus on the U.S.-Algeria game, as we root for our boys to get out there and win one for their country, or tie one for their country, or, under certain circumstances, lose one for their country.

The match will be played Wednesday morning, and I plan to be watching in a bar, along with many other sports fans who genuinely love soccer, as well as going to bars on weekday mornings. Why don't you come out and join us? Bring your U.S. flag, bring your enthusiasm and bring your patriotic pride.

If you bring your vuvuzela, we will Taser you.

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