It was Clash of Civilizations Day today at the World Cup. It was Portugal versus Morocco, Uruguay versus Saudi Arabia, and Spain versus Iran. United Christendom (in the earthly forms of Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, and Diego Costa) won 3-nil. It was sort of like the Battle of Lepanto all over again. Kinda, maybe….
The day started out with a shade of ambiguity, as Morocco has been relatively decent to its Jewish community. In fact, if one had to assess the last five hundred years of Jewish history, Morocco would be a few lengths ahead of Portugal.
(The Moroccan fans were even cordial to a couple of Israelis sitting in their midst–until a Moroccan player tossed a slightly used game jersey in their vicinity. Then it was every man–regardless of ethno-religious origin–for himself.)
There was much less of a dilemma with the Uruguay/Saudi Arabia match. Air India flights aside, Saudi Arabia has a long way to go in order to get the nod over a South American country which is relatively democratic and has an unremarkable history of its treatment of its Jews.
By the time the Spain-Iran match arrived, there was no scintilla of ambiguity. In fact, it was quite a pleasure to be able to root guilt-free for a Spanish side that is a joy to watch kick the ball around. No memories of 1391 or 1492 or 1936 clouded my support for La Roja as they dominated the Iranians in all ways, but for the final score. In doing so, the Iranians are now faced with a tall task of beating a Portuguese team that has its sights set on the semi-finals at a minimum.
Tomorrow’s contests feature the Danes against the Aussies, the French against the Peruvians, and Argentines against the Croatians. The Socceroos surely need at least a point in tomorrow’s match to have any hope of advancing to the second round. As for the Argies, if Avigdor Lieberman is correct, then Leonel Messi probably won’t even be able to tie his shoes tomorrow.