During the Commonwealth Games, a few
stories about athletes from other nations managed to slip through the media
net, but viewers were left in no doubt that the event was all about us, our
gold medals and our great athletes.

With the Socceroos now cosily ensconced in
their exclusive $560 a night hotel in Oehringen, there’s not much chance (thankfully!) the local media will
again be so Aussie-centric, if only because Australia won’t be there until the
end of the tournament.

Given the World Cup is an international
event (purportedly, the Commonwealth Games were too, but we have found scant
evidence to support the claim), most of the world’s media are taking a fairly
patriotic view prior to kick-off, and will continue to do so at least until the
group stage is over.

But ahead of the Socceroos’ first game, has
the amount of media coverage tricked us into believing we’re a chance to win
through to the second round? Well, that depends on whether you’re an Australian
fan or a fan from somewhere else, whether you’re an optimist, and how well you
know world football.

For some reason, American commentators
don’t seem to rate Australia’s chances very highly. Sports Illustrated journalist Thomas Rongen
summed up group F pretty succinctly:
“Brazil will win Group F and Croatia will be the runner-up.” We didn’t even rate a mention.

Rongen also rates the Americans a chance to
make it through to the second round, showing that the patriotic bent to the
pre-tournament punditry is alive and well in the States. The English rightfully
expect a decent showing from their lads, with a couple of Brazilians even saying
they think the English have a decent chance of winning the World Cup.
But then, Brazilians can afford to say that.

Just three days before the Opening
Ceremony, it appears we can expect the World Game will live up to its name, at
least for Aussies. For Brazilian viewers, you suspect the experience is going
to be similar to, well, an Australian watching the Commonwealth Games.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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