2-11: To the Victor Goes the Umbrella

[00:00:01] DG: Ohhh yeah! Welcome back to Game of Our Lives. I'm David Goldblatt. And we are recording this a day after the final of the 2018 World Cup when simultaneously the gods of weather, the gods of narrative, and the gods of football smiled on us. It was the best World Cup final since at least 1986. The highest scoring in 90 minutes since Sweden lost to Brazil 5 2 in 1958. And best of all it ended with the most extraordinary thunderstorm that soaked the dignitaries to their skin. With me, I hope to sing a little chorus of "I can see clearly now the rain is gone," I have with me Al Jazeera's Tony Karon and producer Raja Shah. 

[00:01:00] Raja Shah: Hello, hello David. 

[00:01:02] Tony Karon: Bonjour David. 

[00:01:03] DG: Hello guys. And dialing in from New York, our editor Kanishk Tharoor. 

[00:01:08] Kanishk Tharoor: Bonjour David. 

[00:01:11] DG: Vive la France. Kanishk when we last spoke you said to us there have been a few scheduling issues with this World Cup final. Your first born's baptism going on at the same time. Tell me, was there divine intervention? Did somebody manage to get a message to you in the midst of it as to how the game was going? 

[00:01:30] KT: Well I actually got to see the Perišić screaming equaliser before having to head off to the church and along the way my Bangladeshi cab driver was trying to stream the match on his phone and almost got us into a car accident. 

[00:01:43] DG: That's the kind of devotion to duty I like to hear. First of all full disclosure on this final. Number one, I had 20 quid each way at nine to one on France to win that I put on before the tournament. The sole moment when I actually used my head rather than my heart. Second on the full disclosure front, I watched this final with my Francophone neighbors, the lovely French Katherine and Belgian Pierre. Obviously I had red white and blue face paint on. And I blew at least part of my winnings on a large bottle of French champagne to celebrate. So no- no doubt as to who I was supporting during that game. Tony let's start with you, where were you watching it? How did you feel? What did you make of it all? 

[00:02:32] TK: Well I was watching at a Portuguese pub named in honor of Bartolomeu Dias who of course the, as the coasters on the tables told you, discovered the Cape in fourteen, you know, fourteen ninety something, and I was so happy that Portugal were nowhere near the final. But you know the calamari was good. Now ten minutes from time with France four two up, I was still, there was still a sense that this game could go either way. I mean it was a magnificent spectacle. It was a chaotic game this is a negative defensive France but they're not in the game. They keep giving the ball away. I saw shades of 74, you know where the Dutch are by far the better team, but lose. I saw shades again actually in the results of Euro 2016 semi final where Germany plays France off the park but France wins. And, you know, I'm extremely happy that France won. These were, you know, this is Africa's team. This is Pogba celebrating, Pogba goading the press for all the crap that they talk about him. Lovely. I'm totally thrilled and happy but you know it's really hard to say that the better team on the day won. 

[00:03:39] DG: Yeah it was certainly true that even in the last 10 minutes you felt that if Croatia got it to 4 3 by some fluky goal or a great shot then they had the energy and they had the determination to press it right to the very end. So it didn't feel like two actually was necessarily entirely comfortable. There was something incredibly relentless about the Croatians, no? Kanishk, how did you see it when you actually saw it in the flesh? 

[00:04:05] KT: So it's fun, it's interesting to watch a match that you've sort of received a narrative about beforehand. And I had assumed that, you know, in typical fashion of these Didier Deschamps French teams that after taking a lead, the French would sort of sit on the game, frustrate the Croats, not let them through. But I was so surprised by that second half. How many chances, how many openings, how many threats the Croats posed. So I was, you know, I was immensely impressed with the perseverance of that Croat team. This is a team that throughout the world- throughout the knockout phases, has come back and not been afraid of falling behind and really pushed hard. To be very honest I was actually almost neutral in this game. I wouldn't have minded if either team won including the Croats. I know we've had a lot of vilifying of their fascist leanings on this podcast but I wouldn't have minded if the Croats won. And I was very impressed by them and I felt quite sad at the end for a player like Luka Modrić for whom this is almost certainly the last World Cup. Who played so well, who is really this- this game could have been the pinnacle of his career, and he deservedly won the Golden Ball and he's leaving without the trophy and facing, facing time in jail. 

[00:05:18] TK: I want to throw in something else about this French team in the way that they play. You feel like this is a team of unbelievable talent, unbelievable attacking flair and verve, and they're playing you know with the handbrake on in first gear. I would really love to see this team unleashed. I'd really love to see this generation of players and I really mean a generation because there was this extraordinary thing where at the end of the game, the players on the bench all run onto the field and you're like oh my god, these are players that would make any, you know, any other team at the World Cup. They have 11 players on the bench who could just as well have started. So this generation I think, you know, they could really provide spectacular entertainment as well as success in the next decade. 

[00:06:01] DG: One aspect of this final that we must mention, a final brimming with symbolic politics, was actually a fantastic political pitch invasion in the second half in which four people affiliated with Pussy Riot, the feminist activist collective that's forever getting under Vladimir Putin's skin, stormed the pitch all dressed I thought as comic police officers. That stopped the game for about, I don't know, 30 seconds. I don't know if you saw the pictures on Twitter but there's an extraordinary contrast between Lovren, who is pretty much tackling one of them to the ground, and Mbappe who does a double high five with the other. I just thought that was a very sweet contrast. Did you see that guys? 

[00:06:48] TK: Absolutely and I think there's- this is a brilliant encapsulation of what we may want to call the dialectics of this global spectacle. Because on the one hand you have Vladimir Putin smiling smugly in the stand presiding over this unprecedented global spectacle. You are in Manchester. You are in Mumbai. You are in Nouakchott. You are in New York. You're in Shanghai, Seattle. All points in between. There are a billion people who are literally watching the same five takes that the ref is watching to determine whether that's a penalty. This is absolutely extraordinary and you know Putin is presiding. And then suddenly the same platform is hijacked by this group of punk anarchist protesters. It's just absolutely brilliant. Putin can't control what happens on the field. And lo and behold it turns out that he's given a little bit of a bloody nose at what was to be his you know he's crowning glory moment. 

[00:07:43] DG: The bloody nose was good but it was the drenching that really got me. Kanishk, describe if you can for our listeners who might not have seen it, the scenes during the presentation of the trophy. 

[00:07:55] KT: I mean it was extraordinary. It was something out of a comic book really. You have Putin and then Emmanuel Macron and, oh gosh —  

[00:08:04] DG: The president of Croatia. 

[00:08:05] KT: The the president of Croatia, oh my gosh. 

[00:08:08] DG: Let's get her name. Let's get her name guys. 

[00:08:09] KT: Isn't it. Isn't it. It's a double barrel name isn't it? Can somebody Google it? It's very — this is terrible. 

[00:08:15] TK: You're going to have to work on your Panini book of European anti immigrant nationalist politicians, eh? 

[00:08:20] RS: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. 

[00:08:23] KT: That’s Kolinda, um, Kolinda — the presidents of Croatia and France, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Emmanuel Macron next to Gianni Infantino who is the president of FIFA and of course Vladimir Putin. And arrayed behind them is this sort of completely frozen panoply of Qatar Airways stewardesses, or models dressed as Qatar Airways stewardesses, who are completely dissolving in this torrential rain. But they can't, they can't, they're not allowed to unlock their smile. At which point a flunky shows up with one umbrella which goes over the head of Vladimir Putin. And so I believe this is when the Croatian team is coming up to get their medals and their condolences. And all the other leaders are just getting absolutely soaked but there is Putin under the comfortable shade of a giant umbrella. Happily sort of clapping players on the back, passing the medals on, and making sure that he's there on the stage without getting too drenched. 

[00:09:26] DG: I liked it as well that Infantino who's considerably taller than Putin wasn't able to kind of muscle in and hide under the umbrella next to him because Putin is too small. So it was kind of set at the side of Infantino's head. And just to emphasize, I mean you could actually see rivulets of water coming off of Macron's suit, you know. I mean the water is pouring off of Infantino's head. 

[00:09:53] TK: It looked to me, and I might be wrong, that the stage management of this event went completely awry because there's a moment where the French team have all got their medals. They're all in front of that little holding, you know, the photo op where the fireworks are going to be, and it looks like somebody goes, "Oh damn," you know- well not "Oh damn," "Oh beep, somebody forgot to give him the cup." So Infantino wades into the scrum looking for Hugo Lloris with the World Cup. 

[00:10:22] DG: Somehow in the midst of the pouring rain that has gone by the by. I mean in a way it was just great to see the kind of insufferable polished stuffinness of those occasions completely completely destroyed at that moment. 

[00:10:39] KT: And after- they were drenched in the rain and then that golden confetti comes up and then it sticks to them. So there are these kind of like, gold leaf encrusted players. But then how can you begrudge the gorgeous strapping figure of Olivier Giroud, my heartthrob, lifting the World Cup and then not letting anybody else hold the World Cup for what seemed like five minutes. That made me happy that made me smile. 

[00:11:01] DG: Two other little details on the- on the celebrations. Again I saw on Twitter today a short piece of film. There's a woman with a kind of blondish bob who's standing behind Putin and Infantino and she's got a tray of medals I think. And she's on Twitter swiping one of the medals off the tray and sticking it in her pocket. I mean like this is an era of VAR people. What do you think is going to happen? Check that one out. I don't know who she-. 

[00:11:28] KT: Maybe they had one medal too many

[00:11:33] TK: Oh, that's amazing. But actually now that you mention it, I think one thing that I did notice that I think is also absolutely extraordinary, again I mean you know I'm being the techno futurist utopian here I know, but the selfies. The French players, like no sooner has the final whistle gone then, you know, I think it's Matuidi has his phone out and suddenly it's open season. They're all taking all these selfies and then we're all watching them on Instagram. The degree of access we have to the dressing room now is absolutely unprecedented and it's fun. 

[00:12:10] DG: I want to just draw back a moment and take us to the beginning of the tournament when Gianni Infantino, I thought rather rashly at the opening game, suggested that football was going to conquer Russia. I wonder guys what you make of that argument five weeks later. Has football conquered Russia? Or has Russia actually used and played FIFA and football superbly. 

[00:12:35] TK: I'd have to go with the latter. I don't think football ever changes the culture, economy, or even the zeitgeist in a host country for more than a couple of weeks. Putin is definitely the major beneficiary of this World Cup. I don't think ordinary Russians benefit much more than boosting its- the standing of ordinary Russians in the eyes of people in the West perhaps. But-. 

[00:13:01] DG: I think that's globally. I think everyone has- everyone who wasn't thinking about it beforehand has worked out that your average Russian and Russian civil society is, you know, not a billion miles from everywhere else. Open, generous, warm when given the opportunity. And that's, you know, I wonder does that actually make us even crosser that they have to endure the regime that they live under? 

[00:13:25] TK: No. I mean that in 24- you know that good will and twenty five roubles will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks in Moscow. 

[00:13:32] KT: But do you think it's really changed the narrative about Putin? I mean I don't think anybody on the outside at least is going to think any differently about Putin than they did before. And I also think, I mean I do- we we were talking earlier in the tournament about the possibilities of new kinds of public space, however temporary, opening in Russia as a result of the World Cup. So I don't want to be completely cynical. Football can only achieve so much. A World Cup can only achieve so much. But I do think it's interesting what's happened in Russia and I think it may have consequences down the road. 

[00:14:05] DG: Russia is not the only country whose reputation both on and off the pitch has been transformed and shaped by this World Cup. Tony I wanted to ask you, how are you feeling about the status of African football at the end of this World Cup? 

[00:14:19] TK: You know I guess the hard results would suggest that one should feel depressed or despondent but you know what, we don't think that way. I don't think Africa thinks that way. I was having a fantastic conversation this very day with a Congolese guy on the streets of Cape Town who parks cars. I was trying to get, who does he support at the World Cup? Because you know obviously Congo is not there and I'm assuming his number one would be Senegal. And he's like no, number one Belgium, number two Senegal. He doesn't support France at all. But I mean Africa has always, not only in football, but perhaps more generally, been a little skeptical of the nation state, which is bequeathed by colonialism in Africa, as the foundation of somebody's identity. I mean those things obviously have a place, but they're not absolutely definitive. So I think Africa was very excited by France. By this French team with which many people could identify because, you know, Africa is in a state of migration. Not only from Africa to Europe but even within Africa. Cape Town has thousands of people who are Somali, who are Congolese, who are from Senegal, et cetera. So you know the sense of who we are is a little more complex than the nation states and there's plenty of African football represented at the very top of the game. 

[00:15:40] DG: Doesn't look like Asia is really competing either, Kanishk. I mean with the exception of Japan making it through to the Round of 16. How do you, how do you read that? And how do you read that as an indicator of football more widely in the continent? 

[00:15:54] KT: I thought Iran played very well. I mean they're a very competent organized team. They're quite robust. South Korea we know beat Germany in that quite memorable game. And Japan, oh gosh, I really I find that this Japanese team has so much charisma. And for me the moment in the World Cup that was at once, one of the greatest sporting moments as well as being the moment of greatest heartbreak, and that is Belgium's exquisite phenomenal last minute third goal against Japan to recover from being down 2 0. To win 3 2 in the last minute. And it just hit me, it was such a, it was such a suckerpunch. Because I, you know, fully recognizing that Japan have a lot of imperial history and colonial angst that they've generated as well, they were the one Asian team that had survived into the knockout phase. And they had played brilliantly against Belgium. Belgium who I think are also a wonderful team to watch. And so it was one of those moments where this kind of immense possibility seemed to be opening up before you. And then it sort of slams shut. And the sort of reality sinks in that there's no way an Asian team is going to win. And that was hard to deal with. At the same time I couldn't begrudge that last goal. And as we've discussed before the beautiful movement of Lukaku. 

[00:17:11] DG: Tony what was your favorite goal? You can't have that one. 

[00:17:16] TK: You have to choose your best goals on the basis of what they mean. So the goal for me that was, that had the most meaning was Chucky Lozano's winner against Germany. I mean that was the earthquake. The earthquake, right? Mexico City earthquake. That was just fantastic. And I never felt as good throughout the rest of the tournament as I felt in that moment of absolute joy. Goals that kind of, you were like, where the hell did that come from — Cheryshev against Croatia. That was the most — one of the most beautiful goals of the tournament scored in a team that did not play beautiful football at all. And also you know I think in terms of the virtues of the game, the kind of old pro, the keeping your head when everybody around you is losing theirs, I have to say that Mandžukić goal against England was pretty special too. A goal that made a difference and a goal that was a product of keeping your head. 

[00:18:11] RS: Fighting words. 

[00:18:13] KT: It made me happy too. 

[00:19:19] DG: Well you'll forgive me if my favorite goal was Eric Dier's penalty to finally finally finally win a penalty shootout. My own personal greatest pleasure as you know a kind of trainspotter in this department is that here in Britain, but I would actually say everywhere that I have read the press around the world, this has been the most socially and politically conscious World Cup. The kind of duel conversation that's going on about football and all of the other issues that it speaks to is magnified many times over. I mean it was extraordinary, you know, in the run up to the World Cup final itself to hear a seven minute detailed conversation on issues of corruption and legal process in Croatian football and how this might affect Luka Modrić's performance. At the same time to hear Gary Neville live on television discussing Brexit in the context the World Cup. I mean, you know, we've moved a long way people! This is an extraordinary kind of shift in the way that the game is being consumed and discussed. 

[00:19:23] TK: Could those of us who have taught or written for years about, you know, trying to invest this game with so much more meaning, you know, to assuage the guilt of our pleasure in football, can we at least say it's coming home? 

[00:19:37] KT: I think it also helplessly produced so many moments that beg that kind of analysis. I mean think about the Serbia Switzerland game, right? And the Albanian double headed eagle. Following that with Dejan Lovren's singing in the Croatian locker room against Argentina and we've all become experts on 1990s Balkan politics and the ins and outs of nationalism and its formation in that region. There's so many of these storylines that just produce themselves. And I'm glad that people have been able to take notice but I think it's also just, you know, we're aware of the power of representation that these footballers have, right? And the weight that's put upon them and we're so much, we're so much more alive to it now. Perhaps because of social media. Perhaps those moments that would have otherwise just been brushed aside and swept, you know swept away, swept under the carpet, maybe those moments get magnified because everybody's poring over them in such great detail online. 

[00:20:36] DG: I think you're right to say the digital chorus has been stupendous and incredibly interesting at this World Cup. But I have to say and of course, you know, I'm- I wasn't in the stadium, you know, I'm in Bristol, I'm consuming this on the television. But the nature of the crowds has changed. You know, overwhelmingly neutrals with the exception of a number of Latin American posses basically very small groups of away fans, not particularly organized, not singing very much despite the most desperate miking up from the producers, pretty poor quality atmosphere. And when a few people do finally get it together to generate some emotion or activity, everybody around them then starts taking photographs of them, which at least is a change from them taking photographs of themselves. But I found that absolutely excruciating and I know that the World Cup in the end is not really, you know, it's happening in multiple connected spaces. And the passion and the intensity of it can actually be much greater a thousand miles away. But I think there is a real issue, despite the stadiums being pleasingly full, and this was not the case in South Africa and this was not the case in Brazil where there was serious empty space, I thought the quality of the atmosphere was poor. What did you, how did you read it guys? Kanishk. 

[00:22:02] KT: Yeah so I think that is purely a- that's purely a function of Latin America not doing well on the pitch. This was very much a World Cup dominated by West- by Western Europe or by Europe on the pitch, and Latin America off the pitch. Latin Americans traveled in droves. I mean look at the atmosphere of the first Peru game, Peru versus Denmark. It is extraordinary. You know. Look when Mexico played they said it felt like a home game. Latin Americans showed up to this World Cup and they traveled the farthest distances, they paid the most. Europeans didn't. Europeans really didn't. There was a 40 percent drop off in the number of English people that traveled to the World Cup this year. And so- and I am not going to give you, I'm not going to say why. I think part of it is, part of it is obviously the messaging around Russia in the lead up to the tournament. But if the Latin American teams had gone further, I think you would have had better atmosphere. 

[00:22:58] RS: So the World Cup is over but I think we should have one last What to Watch before we all get out of here. Now I'll spare you the bumper. I think we retired it officially last time. And anyway this one’s going to be-. 

[00:23:07] DG: Hooooray! 

[00:23:09] RS: You never have to hear it again, David Goldblatt. That's my gift to you. End of season gift. 

[00:25:13] DG: One of many Raja Shah. 

[00:25:17] RS: This one's a little different, anyway. As you guys know, you know, most of my sports consuming part of my brain is devoted to basketball and specifically the New York Knicks. Which is, for people who don't know, not a good place to be. This is a totally irrelevant team and they have been for a very long time. But I will say after this last month and really working on this show for the last couple of seasons I am, I'm in. I'm in on football. I even call it football now. Much to the chagrin of my friends but whatever. And so I need a team to adopt. Hopefully one that’s better than the Knicks. And you guys all have different rooting interests. There’s Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal. And so this is more of a Who to Watch. I’m coming to you for your advice, who should I pick? 

[00:26:29] KT: Raja I think you should actually avoid the Premier League, and take advantage of the fact that the Bundesliga is really well broadcast in the United States. And try to tune into one of the teams there. I would say that one of the advantages of watching the Bundesliga is that you get to see fully, often full stadiums packed to the brim, heathing and chanting, huge standing areas which are, which are no longer there in the Premier League, in the top flight of English football. And in many, many of the aspects of the game that people miss in the UK, the ease of access, the cheapness of tickets, and so forth are still alive in the German league. You know like a season ticket to a German team cost a fraction of what a season ticket costs in the Premier League. 

[00:24:49] RS: Which team though? 

[00:24:51] KT: Which team? Well so I have a soft spot for Borussia Mönchengladbach, which is a mouthful, but they're more sort of a, they're sort of like an- they were good in the 70s, so they're much like the Knicks. 

[00:25:04] TK: Not good enough. 

[00:25:06] KT: Yeah you might find some kinship there. 

[00:25:09] TK: So on that theme, you know firstly look I could say to you, as I ought to, as a lifelong Liverpool fan it's like adopting a religion and you have to be ready to go through a lot of pain. You really have to be willing to embrace the collective suffering that is supporting any English team. And in that spirit I'm going to go completely counterintuitive here and actually recommend that you support Arsenal. Because Arsenal is a team, like your Knicks, that have actually long since, you know, had their hands on a title. Had their hands on a championship. They've been getting by on faded glory, Arsène Wenger outstayed his usefulness by about 10 years and- but they're a great team, they've got a great history, they've got a great culture around the club. But what I really like is their new coach Unai Emery is making some very pragmatic choices, some very steely choices. He's basically going to meld a different Arsenal. An Arsenal that does not like to lose, that is going to be gritty, that is going to be steady, that it's going to be very attractive attacking football. I'm predicting that Arsenal finish in the top four this year. Again they regain that place as contenders and I know Kanishk is probably worrying that I'm jinxing it, he may well be right but-. 

[00:26:25] KT: Yeah, completely. 

[00:26:25] TK: I would actually recommend, you know, Arsenal is a smart choice. 

[00:26:28] RS: I mean will- I'm intrigued. What you were saying earlier was worrying me because I already have a team that has a history of losing and is continuously disappointing me. So I would prefer to support someone who's actually going to have some chance of winning something. 

[00:26:41] DG: Oooohhh. 

[00:26:45] (DG, TK and KT talking over each other). 

[00:26:47] DG: Careful dude. 

[00:26:47] KT: You can't approach football that way. 

[00:26:49] TK: It's not the football ethos. You don't-. 

[00:26:51] DG: Like no way. Then you support Chelsea or Manchester City and then look at the mess you're in. 

[00:26:56] RS: I don't like that. 

[00:26:57] DG: You know let's not even mention (whispers) Manchester United. So obviously they're all off the agenda. Nobody can suggest to you that you should possibly support any of those teams. Arsenal Schmarsenal what can I say? Have some individuality a billion people already supporting Arsenal. Discover your inner Jew Raja Shah. I know I don't know your family but I suspect a whole range of neurosis are going on inside it, not dissimilar from many of those in my own family. I think the Tottenham Hotspurs could be the team for you. We're on the up. We're in a new stadium. We've got a very classy range of players, we're playing exciting football unlike Arsenal, we will continue to play exciting football, unlike Arsenal. Hey, and we probably won't win anything. But you know, I think you've got to come over here Raja. I think you've got to get out of San Francisco. You've got to get out of that little studio that I've been seeing you in for the last month, and come and embrace the love. I will personally take you on a tour of a range of footballing establishments here in England. And then you can see who you fall in love with. Think of it as a kind of complex form of Tinder. 

[00:28:11] RS: I like that idea. 

[00:28:12] DG: Who should Raja support? Send your messages to us. 

[00:28:15] RS: Scarves welcome. 

[00:28:16] DG: OK. One last thing to say, the World Cup happens not just in the stadiums, not just in the streets of Russia, but in living rooms, studios, and above all, podcast studios everywhere. To capture this event, we have brought you guests from across 13 time zones, hosts on three continents. We have recorded in cars, hotel rooms, and trains traveling through the middle of Russia. Not to mention a locked car in an upscale but slightly dodgy South African tourist resort. It takes an awful lot of people to put all of this together and it takes an awful lot of work to make it happen. So we are going to give you the listeners a little peek behind the scenes of the Game of Our Lives operation. Raja, you’re in San Francisco, and it isn’t just you there. This is in fact where most of the beautiful people are. 

[00:29:10] RS: So on the other side of the glass of where I'm sitting right now is actually the room where you and Tony recorded the first demo for this show way back last fall. And right now it's where the core of our production team is sitting. So hang on let me turn up the mic in there and let's say hello. So first off we have producer and sound designer Meradith Hoddinott. Hey Meradith. 

[00:29:30] Meradith Hoddinott: Hey hey. 

[00:29:31] DG: Wooo!!! 

[00:29:33] RS: We've also got Associate Producer Jordan Bailey. 

[00:29:35] Jordan Bailey: Hello! 

[00:29:36] RS: Hey Jordan. 

[00:29:38] RS: And our managing editor, Casey Miner. Hey Casey. 

[00:29:39] CM: Hey guys. 

[00:29:39] DG: Nice one Casey. 

[00:29:42] KT: Also let's give a shout out to our social team. Our audience development lead is Graelyn Brashear. 

[00:29:46] Graelyn Brashear: Hey guys. 

[00:29:47] KT: Thanks to producer Kyana Moghadam who also manages our social media. 

[00:29:51] Kyana Moghadam: Hi everybody. 

[00:29:53] KT: Graphic Design and animation is by Sophie Feller. And with me in New York taking care of sound recording here is Daniel Woldorff. Say hi Daniel. 

[00:30:00] Daniel Woldorff: Hello. 

[00:30:01] TK: We've also got a lot of people at Al-Jazeera English who have pitched in, especially on the editorial side. We want to thank Lee Wellings, Tristan Redman, David Child, Ramy Allahoum, Gehad Kenawy and of course Mohammad “Pogba” Alsaafin. And very importantly, recording sound with me right here in Cape Town is Neroli Price. This is a job she does on the side. By day she's an anti-corruption activist, which of course means that she's here stalking FIFA. 

[00:30:31] Neroli Price: Hello. Yeah I got my eye on them. 

[00:30:34] DG: Yeah I bet it keeps you busy. And a massive shout out to our engineer here in Bristol, Richard de Mowbray at the Sound Town studios. Who despite being a dead ringer for Olivier Giroud and being an Arsenal supporter, has my love and wonderment. Say hello to the people, Rick. 

[00:30:50] Rick (NAME): My utter pleasure David. I've got a quote as well for you, Tony. Learning never exhausts the mind. 

[00:30:57] DG: Beautiful thoughts. 

[00:31:00] RS: Hey Rick. I also want to thank producers Lacy Roberts and Jasmine Bauomy, our sound designer Ian Coss, PR maven Amanda Shareghi. We also have to thank sound recordist Anna Sinfield, Otis Gray, and Max Savage Levenson. And of course we cannot forget Houdini, the Jetty office dog. He has been with us through thick and thin. And one day he'll stop barking at me if I'm lucky. 

[00:31:23] DG: Finally, our executive producer is Julie Caine, the general manager is Kaizar Campwala, and special thanks to Al Jazeera's Carlos Van Meek. Our theme music is by Bang Data. Thank you Tony Karon, editorial lead of AJ Plus, but above all the person who got this whole damn thing going on in the first place. Thank you so much.

[00:31:47] TK: I've loved every moment of it. And what else is there to say but what do the cricket know, who only cricket know? 

[00:31:54] DG: That's one for the 1 percent. And thank you so much to the leading figure in the ABE band. I love him so. Our content editor, Kanishk Tharoor. Thank you Kanishk. 

[00:32:04] KT: Thank you David it's been a pleasure. 

[00:32:07] DG: And the man who never sleeps. The man who never forgets. The man who picks up every mistake and every last problem, who forsees it before it happens, who has a plan. The fastidious, the wonderful, the fabulous, Raja Shah. Thank you so much. 

[00:32:25] RS: Thank you David. Thank you. 

[00:32:36] DG: That is it ladies and gentlemen for season two. We are going to take a break. Vacations are in order indeed they are absolutely necessary. Before I finally sign off I want to say, we'd love to hear from you. We'd like to hear what a post World Cup Game of Our Lives should look like. So let us know. Go to the survey on our website. Game of our lives dot FM. Or click on the link in the show notes in your podcast app. I'm David Goldblatt. It's been an extraordinary World Cup. Thank you so much for being with us and listening. Goodbye. 

[00:33:12] RS: All right. Nice job everybody. Guess what I just have a couple of things. 

[00:33:18] TK: Oh no.