France are the World Cup champions!
They beat Croatia 4 – 2 to lift the coveted Cup for a 2nd time in 20 years.
Singapore which was inspired by France’s first win in 1998, to send its own team to the World Cup though – remains a broken dream.
During the 1998 National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong after watching the French victory in 1998 World Cup said he was inspired by a group of players led by Zinedine Zidane who is of Algerian extraction. He further commented:
“Look at the French World Cup football team. In the final against Brazil, I picked Zidane as the most outstanding French player. He is of Algerian descent. Of the 22-players, more than half did not look “French”. They looked Argentinian, Armenian, Basque, Caribbean, Ghanaian, New Caledonian. Some were born in France, but of immigrant parents. Others are first generation French citizens. When they went up to receive their medals, President Chirac embraced all of them as Frenchmen. He sent a strong political signal for multi-racialism and against xenophobia: that in France, so long as you contribute to the French cause, it does not matter what colour your skin is or where you were born.
Last year I told you Singapore would never have a chance in the World Cup, because the rules require all players to be citizens. But after watching the French victory, I have changed my mind. Maybe if we change our immigration criteria to bring in top football talent and make them citizens, then one day we too can get into the finals. In fact we intend to do just this, to bring in sports talent.”
Soon after, Advisor of Football Association of Singapore and Government Minister Mah Bow Tan, set the stage for Singaporeans to dream of ‘Goal 2010’.
“1999 is also an important year as we will launch our blueprint for “Goal 2010, Singapore in the World Cup”. Let us not kid ourselves. The road to World Cup 2010 is going to be long and rough and tough. There are many who say that this is a dream, that it is “mission impossible”, and that we are crazy. I read an ad for Apple Computers which said “Only the people crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do”.
We do not intend to change the world, but our task is no less difficult, so we need more crazy people. I prefer to call them “believers”, people who dare to dream and to make dreams come true, people who are crazy enough to change the world rather than watch the world go by. The FAS has set up two task forces to brainstorm and come up with ideas on how we can achieve Goal 2010. They will be presenting their ideas at a public forum next month to gather feedback.
I call on all football loving Singaporeans to give them your support. It will be the first step in a journey of a thousand miles towards Goal 2010.”
After journeying for a thousand miles though, we never arrived at our Goal – Goal 2010!
Singapore’s FIFA ranking which was 81 in 1998, dropped to 169 today.
Singapore’s Under-19 team were humiliatingly defeated in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) U-19 Championships. That too after FAS controversially approved the U-19 coach’s leave to help the Australian national team, while his own was preparing for the big tournament.
Then there is the big news of MINDEF saying Ben Davis does not get a deferment from National Service to play full-time for English side, Fulham.
While some have placed the blame squarely at the feet of MINDEF for not allowing a young local sporting talent from developing, at least one has said that FAS has to share the blame as well.
Facebook user Michael Ang SportsTalk said:
“MINDEF SAYS ‘NO’ TO BEN DAVIS because he doesn’t even come close to meeting the official criteria for deferment.
With ???????? ⚽ in complete chaos, how could any footballer meet the NS deferment criteria? Athletes granted deferment must have a chance of winning a medal at, say, the Olympic Games.
Perhaps one could argue that FAS is indirectly to blame for Ben’s unsuccessful deferment application, since the kampung association is responsible for the state of ???????? ⚽.”