Football: Cynicism Loses When Popular Culture and High Art Collide; ...but Chief Sports Writer Hyder Jawad Refuses to Kowtow to Retrospective Romanticism

The Birmingham Post (England), September 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

Football: Cynicism Loses When Popular Culture and High Art Collide; ...but Chief Sports Writer Hyder Jawad Refuses to Kowtow to Retrospective Romanticism


Byline: Hyder Jawad

The death of Luciano Pavarotti, that great icon of football (!), sparked the inevitable wave of blind revisionism about the summer of 1990.

How well we remember it: Paul Gascoigne's tears, Cameroon, Ireland, Roberto Baggio, David Platt, Lothar Matthaus, and the BBC World Cup title sequence (starring Pavarotti's very own Nessun Dorma).

But, of course, Nessun Dorma was not Pavarotti's "very own" - and the 1990 World Cup itself was a 31-day study in cynicism and mediocrity. Seldom has a tournament been so romanticised in retrospect yet been so ugly in actuality.

And yet Italia 90 tells us everything about what is important about the World Cup. In the age of television, the images matter more than the product because the images last longer.

We have forgotten how poorly England played against Ireland, Egypt, Belgium and Cameroon. We just remember Gascoigne's tears, the penalty shoot-out against West Germany, and that superlative volley by Platt against Belgium.

Most of all, we remember Nessun Dorma when "Vincero" (I will conquer) is sung three times to form a dramatic crescendo. To complement the denoument, the BBC used footage of Marco Tardelli's goal celebration from the 1982 World Cup final.

By the end of Italia 90, which Germany won after defeating Argentina in a wretched final in Rome, Pavarotti and Nessun Dorma became inextricably linked. Few realised that the song is from the Giacomo Puccini's opera, Turandot.

But that was written out of the story because Puccini was not as loveable as Pavarotti, or as marketable.

Nessun Dorma (Let No one Sleep) was more than opera's most famous "popular" track; it was the World Cup's unofficial soundtrack.

During the 1994 World Cup, Pavarotti was invited to Los Angeles the day before the final to perform. Officially, it was an operatic event but it was sold to the world as a football event - and football people, most of whom had never been to an opera before, littered the audience.

Popular culture and high art had finally collided. So what if the art was more inspiring than the football. It was the images that mattered; and Italia 90 provided images that are unlikely to fade.

It was the same at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. Apart from Michael Johnson's genius in the 200 metre and 400m finals, and Linford Cristie's foolishness in the 100m, what do we remember? For me, the single defining image of Atlanta 96 is Tara's Theme, the BBC's title track, which owes its conception to Gone With The Wind.

No media outlet has a better feel for sporting imagery than the BBC. For them, the link between music and sport started with the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, the soundtrack of which was more successful than the sport.

The first realisation that music could set the scene for an entire tournament came in 1978 when Argentina hosted the World Cup. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Football: Cynicism Loses When Popular Culture and High Art Collide; ...but Chief Sports Writer Hyder Jawad Refuses to Kowtow to Retrospective Romanticism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.