Apr 10

Pop World Cup 2010: Group B – Greece 0 Argentina 4

FT/34 comments • 1,003 views

Both of these sides have a single point to show for their first two games, and both are staring an early exit from the competition square in the face. Either side could still qualify but to do so they will need a handsome victory and even then will  require a sizeable win in the Nigeria –  Korea Republic match. It’s one for the statisticians, for sure. Will it be one for the neutrals?

Wait… the Greek manager appears to have a piece of paper in his hands…

This match closes at midnight on Monday 12th April

GREECE: Vegas – “Tous Ponaei” The Manager Says: “In 1885, the delegates of the Football Association gathered to make a crucial decision that was to solidify football as the most important sport in the world (until pop football eclipsed it in popularity). Rather than, as was the custom at the time, restrict the sport to amateurs only, they left the doors open to professionalism through the payment of so-called “boot-money” to participants. It was one of the first sports in the world to do so.

But what’s wrong with amateurism, you ask? On the surface it encourages, perhaps, the proper spirit, fair play, lack of greed. But the backside is equally clear: it is elitist as it it restricts participation to those wealthy enough to afford expenses. Conversely, it also solidifies and ossifies a code of quality, based entirely on the wishes of that moneyed elite, and it restricts progress as their values are the only ones that count. And of course, it helps keep the sport tiny, an internal upper-class affair.

So that decision in 1885 really made the difference that set association football ahead of all the rival codes, and made sure that it would progress much faster in quality and become much more popular than its amateurist rivals. It’s taken many years, but now most other footballing codes have also followed suit, with most recently rugby union limping into full professionalism and apparently a simultaneous surge in popularity everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except in Argentina! Because in Argentina, they still cling on to their amatuerism in rugby, which has cast their rightful participation in the Tri Nations into doubt.

To understand this, it is vital to know that Argentina is one of the countries in the world with the largest income gap between rich and poor. Its elite is to a significant extent cut off from the poor culturally as well, which shows not least in its choice of a different sport to the poor peoples’ football. Amateurist rugby suited the self-image of the wealthy argentinians just fine. No matter how stultefying.

And of course the same cultural gap exists in music.

The destitute in the villas miseria around Buenos Aires listen to cumbia villera music. But the elite for the most part wouldn’t touch that section of the population with a pole. Instead they concoct their own rigid indie music, of which we’ve so far seen two examples presented by the Argentinian coach – and I bet we’ll see a third here! Because if you’re entrenched in those values of the elite, cumbia villera – like professionalism in sport – is seen as crude, stupid, full of rabble. The elites of Argentina persist in their amateurism and their indieness. The two are intimately connected.

Meanwhile, observe Greece. By one ranking, the most egalitarian country in the world. In music, all sorts of artists crossing over genre-to-genre, with little regard for boundaries. And here presented to you, the extreme of popularity (in the best sense of the word) and of professionalism: a group of diverse ethnicity and gender, only recently at the top reaches of the Greek charts.

This is your chance to strike a blow for the notion that pop is as good music as anything else. Like that decision in 1885, I ask you to determine the future of pop football: will amateurism succeed, as represented by the Argentinians, or will the professionalism of the Greek side triumph? This single decision will serve as symbolic for the rest of the tournament, and indeed for the direction taken by the readers of this site in general.”

ARGENTINA: Princesa – “Más Fuego” The Manager Says: “Since no Caribbean teams managed to make it to the World Cup this year, Argentina pays tribute to their sun-kissed styles of play, which include some of the most joyous and effective in the global pop game, in what is likely to be our last showing on this pitch. Dancehall and reggaetón meet the neocumbia scene (Princesa is associated with the legendary female hip-hop group Actitud Maria Marta as well as the cumbia-ghettotech all-stars at ZZK) in an explosion of righteous hip-moving rhythm. Mo fiya!

(Interested parties may wish to view the highlight reel of practices for this game.)

Group B Match 6: Which of these tracks do you prefer?

  • ARGENTINA - Princesa 82%
  • GREECE - Vegas 18%

Total Voters: 68

Poll closes: 12 Apr 2010 @ 23:59

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Commentary Box Analysis
Well! There’s a feeling in the press room that the Greek manager’s outburst was carefully calculated to take the pressure off his team and allow them to play their energetic natural game. But his political attack on the Argentinian Pop FA and pop culture in general has led him to field a team set up specifically to deal with a languid indie formation which doesn’t materialise. Argentina have changed things around and fight fire with, um, “fuego”.  Which team has the fiyapowa to score the goals?

Coming up: All crunch time, all the time at this stage of the PWC: tomorrow we’ll see the return of the English team (whose formation has been decidedly variable so far) against a Slovenia who know their route one BOSH tactics very well indeed.


  1. 1
    Tom on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Goodness me – the Greek manager has read out his opponent’s starting XI at the pre-match conference only to find that not one of those players has taken the pitch. In the circumstances Greece put in a credible performance, full of effort but they’re getting outmuscled here. I’ve enjoyed both the previous Greek tracks and this is fine but it’s not got much distinctive, though I’ll give it another shot before voting.

    Argentina meanwhile have woken up to their perilous situation and are determined to go down fighting. They’re playing a similar reggaeton-influenced game to Honduras’ second track but with a lot more fire and verve – they take an early lead while the Greek defense are still looking at the bench in baffled horror. Can the Greeks pull anything back, let alone the big win they need? I’m not sure.

    The top half of the draw in this competition is brutal.

  2. 2
    logged-out Tracer Hand on 7 Apr 2010 #


  3. 3
    Birdseed on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Oh fuck.

    Well, I was far behind and decided to risk it. :D

  4. 4
    Matt DC on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Good to see the Greek manager resorting to old fashioned MIND GAMES but it may be to distract from the fact that his side are about as route one as it’s possible to get. That said, I think the poor lads are a bit knackered at this stage, I get the feeling there should be a lot more pace in the side in order to pull off a formation like this.

    Liking the Argentinian reggaeton/dancehall hybrid a lot here, but obviously hoping for a draw.

  5. 5
    koganbot on 7 Apr 2010 #

    As someone who seems to be slipping into ever further amateurism myself these days (seems to be more of a market for bad indie than for good music criticism, not to mention more of a market for writing about indie than writing about nonindie), this may explain my affinity in the first two matches for my Argentinean counterpart, who so far has chosen good, inventive semipopular music for which its progenitors may even have gotten paid; anyway, voted Argentina twice already, to little avail; thought the last Argentinian fellow had more variety in his throat and more island in his rhythm than commenters noticed. But each match is new.

    Am considering the possibility that the Greek manager may be taking the piss a little bit, much like his team, the back line doing the wild thing; can’t tell if the striker is grim or merely straight-faced, but the female accompanists stick out their tongues in several directions, distracting the officials while the midfielders plant land mines in the pitch. Good job, I’d say, and I’m entertained – except that far from wounding the opposition, the little explosions serve only to energize the Argentines, who furrow through soil and defenders with equal intensity. From this vantage, seems a win for the Argentines; in the meantime this off-duty scribbler salutes both managers, in the event that we see neither next round.

  6. 6
    Martin Skidmore on 7 Apr 2010 #

    I was involved with a woman last year who used to strip to Tone Loc’s Wild Thing. That relationship ended badly, so I am biased against the Greek entry. Argentina get an easy win, and deserve it, I think, for the bass muscle alone, though the rest is very appealing too.

  7. 7
    Erithian on 7 Apr 2010 #

    I defy anyone not to click through from the opening sentence of #6 on the front page…

  8. 8
    Tom on 7 Apr 2010 #

    You’ve ruined it now Erithian!

    Good SEO work there Martin.

  9. 9
    Erithian on 7 Apr 2010 #


  10. 10
    Erithian on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Something of a one-paced attack from Argentina, rather lacking in a Plan B if the Greeks hold on at the back. And indeed they do, with that greater variety up front scoring them a victory for me despite the Rafa Benitez-style meltdown by the Greek coach before the game.

  11. 11
    CarsmileSteve on 7 Apr 2010 #


    so, a draw for Nigeria and Korea sees them both through, but even a result in that game will see them both through unless:

    Greece Win and Nigeria lose and the difference is less than 26%

    Argentina Win and Nigeria lose and the difference is less than 35%

    If South Korea lose they still go through unless Greece win and the difference is more than 43% or Argentina win and the difference is more than 52%!!! that thumping victory over Argentina has pretty much sealed South Korea’s place in the last 16…

  12. 12
    lonepilgrim on 7 Apr 2010 #

    my earlier comments seem to have disappeared into the ether – so I’ll just say that I tip Argentina to win this. One of the performances of the tournament for me.

  13. 13
    Lex on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Was all ready to vote GRE after their rather fun technocrunch x hip-pop showing and then ARG only went and completely smacked it with possibly the best song of the tournament so far. LOVE and WANT MORE.

  14. 14
    Jonathan Bogart on 8 Apr 2010 #

    It’s pretty easy to get more; her latest album (also titled Mas Fuego) isn’t released on any label. She just posted links to the Mediafire upload on Facebook!

  15. 15
    weej on 9 Apr 2010 #

    Three excellent tracks from Argentina. Surely they can’t go out!

  16. 16
    jeff w on 9 Apr 2010 #

    A storming opening from Argentina leading to an early goal. But even at less than three minutes in length their pattern of play starts to get predictable, which is going to let the Greeks back in it I think. The Greece manager has consistently gone for the slow burners and, after a shaky start, they begin to control the game. That rock solid bass line is giving their strikers the confidence to go out and play. This will be close – which sadly helps neither team.

  17. 17
    Garry on 10 Apr 2010 #

    Argentina reminds me of Lady Sov, but with a different edge… so has my vote.

  18. 18
    Alberto on 11 Apr 2010 #

    Wasn’t charmed by the Tone Loc formation employed by Greece (even though nobody has ever stripped for me to “Wild Thing”), but reggaeton is really not for me and Greeks stage a good come back in the second half. So they get my vote.

  19. 19
    Jonathan Bogart on 13 Apr 2010 #

    Holy shit. Does that mean I’m through to the elimination round?

  20. 20
    Tim on 13 Apr 2010 #

    I don’t think so. It’s an amazing victory but my back-of-an-envelope calculations say you just miss out, I’m afraid. I will allow some of our more experienced stattos make the final call.

    I will be sorry to see both of these managers depart from the tournament (at least as competitors) – both have brought a lot of fun and great music to the game.

  21. 21
    mm on 13 Apr 2010 #

    My calculations show that Argentina would’ve needed to win with 94% here.

  22. 22
    Jonathan Bogart on 13 Apr 2010 #

    How do you figure? Based on CarsmileSteve’s “more than 52% difference” metric @11 (I’m not sure where 52 came from, but I trust the statisticians), there’s exactly a 52% difference between my margin of victory and Nigeria’s margin of victory. Pop football, just like the running-around kind, can be heartbreaking.

  23. 23
    Birdseed on 13 Apr 2010 #

    I knew this would happen when I saw the group draw, Jonathan could just as easily have been through except for that unfortunate song choice in the second round. Greece, alas, remains a bit of a bit-part player everywhere except in Eurovision, but that sort of music doesn’t fly here.

    I might as well divulge some of my other potential choices – any of this would have tickled peoples’ fancies more?

    Master Tempo – Doggy Style http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkLz1yelGXY
    Malamas – Pigipresa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khdcoo3mVvE
    DJ Palmer – Computer Guy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT1e7R0LXas
    Xaris Kostopoulos – Poulaw Trela http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0-6ZS338NI (With the shit entry edited out!)
    Kalia Veneti – Trelli adinamia http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQmoUbpQTAw
    Giannis Ploutarxos – To Fonazo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HCk1Jw3ELE
    And my all-time Eurovision favourite… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWDU9ZWMoEw

  24. 24
    mm on 13 Apr 2010 #

    I’m just looking at the table. After their latest loss Korea’s got 4 points and 169 ‘percent points’. Unfortunately for you, Argentina was last in terms of percentages before this match, with 76. To get even with Korean you’d need 93 percentages in addition to the three points. You’re even in terms of point, but Korea won the match between you two, so 94 to get 170 and go through.

  25. 25
    Tom on 13 Apr 2010 #

    Yeah, Argentina going through at the expense of Korea was the single most unlikely outcome of the group. Amazing credit for almost pulling it off!

  26. 26
    Tim on 13 Apr 2010 #

    Heartbreakingly for Argentina, Steve should have said 62% rather than 52%, according to my (dodgy) maths.

  27. 27
    Jonathan Bogart on 13 Apr 2010 #

    Ah. Well, the fans back home are jubilant nonetheless. They were desperate for a win, and I’m proud we were able to give them such a solid one, even if it means we didn’t advance. There are crowds in the streets of Buenos Aires tonight, all singing Mas Fuego.

    On the flight back, we’ll be arranging some exhibition matches for the squads that didn’t get to see any field time. Strictly for the fans, of course, no sponsorships.

    No more questions, please.

  28. 28
    Matt DC on 13 Apr 2010 #

    Wow that was a thumping! Is that the biggest victory of the tournament in percentage terms?

  29. 29
    Tom on 13 Apr 2010 #

    http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2010/03/pop-world-cup-group-f-slovakia-v-paraguay/ – Slovakia’s collapse against Paraguay takes that honour. (though this one had a LOT more votes so it’s more impressive)

  30. 30
    jeff w on 13 Apr 2010 #

    My commiserations to both managers. Neither fielded a single duff track. This result especially is harsh on Greece.

  31. 31
    koganbot on 13 Apr 2010 #

    Yes, I was voting for the Argentine track, not against the Greek.

    (Of course, I was one of six voters to tick Slovakia in their debacle versus Paraguay, so I’m perhaps not much of a barometer of anything.)

  32. 32
    Jonathan Bogart on 19 Apr 2010 #

    Argentina’s promised exhibition matches now available here. Download and see what you would have played in the second round!

    (I count at least ten songs that would have done better, with the benefit of hindsight.)

  33. 33
    lonepilgrim on 19 Apr 2010 #

    thanks Jonathan – I’m looking forward to these – the only one I know is Juana Molina, whose music Il love

  34. 34
    verónica on 1 Jun 2010 #

    come on!!!!
    this is not an argentinian sound!
    this music is not representative for my people! sorry…
    try again

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