More Sports Humiliation for Putin's Russia
If anything more revolting happened last week than the sight of crazed Russian nationalists whooping it up on the streets of Moscow, and calling themselves "champions," because their national football squad had defeated tiny Netherlands using not a Russian but a Dutch coach, we must have missed it. Only in Russia does reaching the semi-finals of a regional sports tournament qualify as a champion's achievement.
The arrogance was flying fast and furious, as only Russians can manufacture it. Russian Midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov stated: "We have beaten two very strong teams, I think this improves our chances. I want to play Spain [in the semifinal]. We made lots of mistakes against Spain [in the group match] and now we have fixed them very quickly."
Be careful what you wish for, Konstantin.
Nobody even remotely familiar with the sorry legacy of sports in Putin's Russia could have been surprised when Russia was shut out in its next match against Spain, 3-0, and hence ejected from the tournament. Over the course of two matches against the Spaniards, Russia was outscored by a ghastly 7-1 and outclassed in every aspect of the game (this even though Spain's star player David Villa was out of the second match on an injury in the early going).
Except the Russians, of course, who sat there slack-jawed just long enough to realize it must have been a massive Russophobic conspiracy that did them in. Woe to any Spanish person that might be encountered on the streets of Moscow (not that there are any, of course, since Moscow is about as attractive to a Spaniard as Antarctica to a Nigerian).
It seems that Russia's "strategy" for victory -- bribing its players with unlimited access to costly whores -- worked out no better than bribing mothers to have babies has proven to. The team lost, and the population continues to shrink rapidly. So much for the "Russian solution" to everything -- corruption.
And that wasn't the end of Russia's humiliation, either. Both the top-ranked Russian male and female tennis players, as we reported yesterday, were blown off the court in easy straight sets at Wimbledon by opponents who were not ranked in the world's top 100. Neither managed to get as far as the third round.
Strange to say, though, we were rooting for Russian football against Spain. Had the Russians won, it would have been a beautiful argument that by allowing themselves to be led by foreign ideals Russians can achieve greatness. After all, such progress as Russia did make in the Euro tournament this year, getting a semi-final bid, was due in large part to the efforts of the team's non-Russian coach, who sought to make massive reforms in the shoddy program he inherited from the desperate Russians. Now, the Russians will probably say they would have won the whole thing if only they'd had a "real Russian" to lead them. Granted, we would have been forced to endure the cacophonous din of Russians bellowing that winning this tournament "proved" they now ruled the world no matter how man other spectacular failures they might have, but that would have been a small price to pay and actually somewhat amusing.
But in reality, the whole situation is simply a farce. Russia got to the quarter finals by beating Sweden and Greece, teams that had a grand total of one win between them in the tournament and which together don't have half Russia's population. It then got to the semi-finals by beating the country its own coach came from, presumably giving them quite a nice inside track, a country so small it can barely be seen on a map. When Russia was forced to contend with a big boy like Spain, it when down to spectacularly lame defeat not once but twice.
And this is the story of Vladmir Putin's Russia. It simply couldn't care less about reality or actual success, just as was the case in Soviet times. Instead, the denizens of Putin's Russia appear to prefer to live in a world of their own imagining, and to pass of any failure as owing to pure dumb luck. This is precisely the attitude that destroyed the USSR from within, and it will have no different result in Putin's Russia.