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Match-fixing
Siva Choy
16 Jun, 2002, The New Paper


When FIFA announced the dates and time and venues for the World Cup matches, the leading experts on international soccer (my friends) promptly drew up their own fixtures for watching the live TV telecasts at home.

Xavier actually produced a chart which he titled Whose House Can Watch Which Match?

Unfortunately, our Tea Cup fixtures underwent a series of revisions even before the series kicked off. Whose House Can Watch Which Match quickly became Whose House Cannot Watch Which Match.

The reasons for not being able to host matches varied greatly.

Slimy Xavier pleaded social inferiority.

"My TV is very small," he said shamefacedly. "Why don't we use Eng's?

He's got one of those digital big screen things with surround sound. Can hear the striker being brought down in the right speaker, can hear the referee's whistle in the left speaker, can hear the crowd boo in the back right speaker and can hear the coach curse in the back left speaker."

In the end, we found out his impotence had nothing to do with size. It was just the result of misguided loyalty - his wife wanted to watch something else on TV.

Sebastian, who had been hosting World Cup matches in his house as long as we remember, muttered that he might have to withdraw his sponsorship.

We sensed it had something to do with his conversion three years ago to a mail order, new-age religious sect in Arkansas.

"If you can promise there will be no betting, boozing or swearing, you will all be welcome under my roof," he said.

"Are you mad?" Eng said. "Then why watch soccer?"

"I'm talking about my religion here," Sabastian said severely.

"So am I!" said Eng.

So we asked End if we could all watch the matches live at his place.

Eng told us we were welcome. But he said there would be a problem with afternoon shows and he mentioned something silly about "office hours" and "work".

"How can you put your work before your religion?" Seb said.

In the end, David suggested that in the interests of domestic bliss, religious harmony and national productivity, Whose House We Cannot Watch Which Match should be revised to Which Pub To Watch Which Match.

"Forget it," said Xavier. "When the pub gives you the bill at the end of the match, you'll find it's cheaper to fly to Korea and buy a ticket. I'm booking a seat at Eng's place."

And so we all ended up in Eng's place in the evening to watch live matches as well as the afternoon matches that had been taped earlier.

Ah, the joys of watching soccer together with friends!

Eng's wife showed great support. She fixed sandwiches and drinks and she not only watched the matches with us, but also commented on them.

Except (a) she commented more than the official TV Commentator, and (b) her comments were, to use a soccer term, a bit off-side.

Here are some excerpts from Mrs Eng's Soccer Philosophy.

  • Why are there more blondes and brunettes amond the Japanese than among the Danes?
  • How can a player take a corner kick when there is a flag is his way? The linesman should move that flag before the corner kick.
  • It would be nicer to replace the linesman with a linesgirl, especially one dressed like a cheerleader. It's no big deal to be a linesman - anybody can run up and down and wave a flag. For that he gets paid?
  • Are there any French played left in the French team?
  • Why do coaches shout instructions to players at all times with such a nasty face? If they are so smart, why don't they play?
  • What kind of people design soccer jerseys? The colour combinations are dreadful, never mind the design and cut.
  • The best way to prevent jersey pulling is to ban jerseys.
  • Soccer players should receive training in drama school so that they can pretend to suffer more realistically when they fall.
  • Lucky this series is not played here. You know how many players will be fined for spitting?

And all that was in the first few matches. Soon, Watch At Eng's House became Yes, But Not With Eng's Spouse.

Right now, I'm waiting for the second half of the match to start. And yes, I'm not in Eng's place. I'm at home, and I'm alone.

Sebastian is home alone too and so is Xavier and the other guys. (Eng is probably not alone, being privileged to have a digital TV, surround sound and his own personal commentator-cum-caterer next to his right ear.)

Xavier just called to ask what I think about the referee's penalty decision. He says he phones Sebastian about the same thing and they argued and he swore at Sebastian. But Sebastian didn't mind since Xavier had sworn over a mobile phone and not under Seb's roof.

Now I've got another call waiting. It's probably Eng, looking for a second opinion to Mrs Eng's.

Ah, the joy of watching soccer together with friends.



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