FIFA defended their referee selection procedure after a horror show from Graham Poll in which he gave five yellow cards to one player, sent off 800 Croatian fans, and forced Australia to play 'two-touch' for much of the second half.
A spokesman said: "What happens is, we put these golden tickets inside candy bars, or inside cigarette packets in countries where FIFA-approved chocolate isn't a big seller. The person who finds a golden ticket gets to referee a group match, unless he is a woman, and the best ones progress to the second round, where they start to get evicted by public vote. The system is theoretically flawless, although we do get a lot of unhealthy referees coming through. Mr. Poll is a 60-a-day man. Maybe we should put the golden tickets inside apples. But then all the referees would be doctors."
Ukraine 1 - 0 Tunizzzzzz
Boo! Get off the stage! Boo!
Germany 11 - 3 Sweden
1) "Sweden just haven't turned up today," said the voice in my head, "Only 4 of their players are involved in the game at the moment. Oh! And one of them has been sent off. The next 55 minutes of my life will be completely wasted."
2) "Nobody likes to see players try to get opponents sent off," said Germany's Torsten Frings, "Except me - I love it. If you think about it, Podolski scored two goals and Ballack ran the midfield, but I got the Swedish player sent off. Therefore I had the biggest effect on the outcome of the match. In the German papers tomorrow I will be named Man of the Match, and there will be full colour photos of me waving an imaginary card at the referee. In Germany that's more beautiful than scoring an overhead kick. Maybe there will be a step-by-step guide to teach young Germans - whom we call Jungdeutchecheats - how to cheat like me. It takes practice, you know. They need to start early."
3) "You don't know what you want," said FIFA boss Sepp Blatter in his post-match press conference, "You've been asking for consistency from referees and now you've got it. If they give every decision to one team, that's called being consistent. Also, you wanted Sezer and Grace out of the Big Brother house, you got it, and now it's really boring. You just don't think things through."
4) "Thank Noah the group stages are over," said oppressed blogger Andrew Girardin, "I had a dream last night in which Henry scored the goal France needed to get to the next stage, and then took the ball into the corner of the pitch where he kept it for 30 minutes, ignoring the whistles of the crowd. Then at full-time he celebrated like he had actually achieved something. Watching every game of the World Cup is ridiculous. It makes me hate the players, teams, fans, TV companies, sponsors, FIFA, sheep, and myself."
Argentina 2 - 1 Mexico
1) And the Angel spake unto him, saying, "Do you want to watch the best football match of all time?" And Andrew said, "Yeah, I suppose." And the Angel said, "No, really! It'll be dead good. Fast, skilful, a wall of noise and colour, and the passion of a lucid dream." And Andrew said, "Will it involve England?" And the Angel laughed, and said, "That's the funniest thing I heard since The Da Vinci Code." And Andrew said, "Can I have extra-time and a sensational winning goal?" And the Angel sayeth, "Sure, whatever. I'll throw Riquelme in as well. But you must prove that you truly want to watch this game." And Andrew repliedeth, saying, "What must I do?" And the Angel said, "You must first sit through games involving England, France, and Ukraine." And Andrew, for he was stupid, said, "That doesn't sound so bad."
2) Mr. Eriksson, do you think it is strange that Mexico can send their centre-back to play as a right-winger and he can do it better than Beckham?
3) Mexico! Gracias, gracias!
4) Next round - Argentina v Germany. Joy!
England 1 - 0 Ecuador
1) England are the least entertaining team in the world, and that's official. "We have a very accurate tool for determining how enjoyable a team are to watch," said Professor Ossie Ardiles of The University of Southampton, "It's based on how many people are watching a game, and how many turn off in despair. England are so bad we've had to make a couple of changes to the formulii we use. What's interesting is that the rate of decrease slows most while the camera is trained on Peter Crouch. I think people find him so oddly-shaped that they can't bear to change the channel."
2) "We might have to say no," said a Cabinet spokesman, "Civil Liberties groups would do their nut." The spokesman was reacting to a proposal thought to have come from TV companies and corporate sponsors which would force repeat offenders to watch England football matches. "It would be cheaper than prison, and the criminals wouldn't be able to turn off like everyone else. But to be honest I don't think anyone's going to buy a Big Mac after watching England, so the sponsors aren't going to benefit. We're looking into it, though."
3) England Expects
Shortly after 4 p.m. Eriksson was pacing the quarterdeck with Captain Steve McClaren, the captain of the frigate Borer. The nearest enemy ships were less than two miles away.
Turning to McClaren, Eriksson said: "I'll now amuse the Fleet with a signal. Do you think there is one yet wanting?" "I think the whole of the Fleet seems to understand very clearly what they are about," answered McClaren.
But Eriksson was already walking across to where Beckham and his signalmen were waiting. He ordered a signal to be made - to "Remember something inspirational someone else once told you", and another to Downing, to "Prepare to run around for all of fifteen seconds".
Then he said: "Mr Beckham, I wish to say to the Fleet, England expects that every man will pretend we played really well. Make it so."
Portugal 1 - 0 Holland
1) "It's very comfortable in there," said Holland's invisible winger Arjen Robben, "But I could do with some pillows." Robben spoke after spending 90 minutes in the Portugal right-back's pocket.
2) Andrew's artist friend Dutch Susan watched the game with interest: "The only thing more beautiful than two teams showing sportsmanship and the Corinthian spirit is two teams who utterly despise each other, doing their utmost to cheat their way to victory in a flurry of red and yellow cards and multiple on and off-pitch brawls. It was utterly compelling."
3) Luis Figo refused to apologise for his 'headbutt' on Mark Van Bommel: "He called my mam a slag."
4) Cristiano Ronaldo left the pitch in floods of tears: "It's not fair, it's just not fair, why did they have to shoot Bambi's mother...?"
Italy 1 - 0 Australia
An immense defensive performance from Fabio Cannavaro was the decisive factor in another baffling match. Bloggers around the world are struggling to think of new ways to describe poor referees and moments of subterfuge going unpunished. Their attention has turned to the players, who are so stupid they think they are above the law, and coaches, who don't react to the tide of events.
Bill Cravers of 'Blogzamillion' writes: "Materazzi gets sent off every single match he plays. Every match he throws elbows, lunges into challenges, and wrestles opponents at set pieces. What is most fascinating is not that Lippi thinks him suitable for the Italian side, but that Materazzi never ever seems to learn. Surely human civilization is most noted for its ability to learn? Are we breeding a generation of anti-learners? People who grow more stupid over time?"
Walmington Crescent writes on his eponymous blog: "Guus Hiddink is the best coach in the world. So we are told. And so it would seem. But is he? Then why did his team have 99% of the possession in the second half but have no shots? Buffon in the Italian goal smiled his way through the game, looking as relaxed as a ham in a hammock. The Aussies seemed scared to win - they looked as nervous as a whale who finds himself in Japanese territorial waters. Hiddink must take the blame."
Pierluigi Collander, on his blog 'ForzaForce', writes: "The players in this World Cup are a photocopy of a photocopy - faded and weak imitiations of their normal selves. For Chelsea, Lampard does not miss from ten yards. For Arsenal, Henry is a taller than average man in a world full of midgets. In Serie A, Luca Toni breaks every record. He scores 31 goals and wears a beard of bees so big Guinness thinks it is a hoax. Come the World Cup, these players run out of ink."
Switzerland 0 - 0 Ukraine ( 0-3 on pens)
The most boring match in history - yes, even worse than Switzerland vs. France or England vs. Anyone - was followed by the worst penalty shoot-out in history. I was forced to read my local newspaper - the one they give away, the one nobody ever reads - for entertainment.