Try as I may, I can't convince myself that I'm all done and dusted with the Fifa World Cup in Russia for another four years.

Something's nagging me days after the smoke has settled with France justifiably beating Croatia 4-2 in the final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Monday morning.

It transcends the trivial brainstorming sessions on whether Croatian midfield maestro Luka Modric, player of the world cup tourney, deserves the Ballon d'Or or it should go to French forager Antoine Griezmann or Belgium skipper Eden Hazard. (For the record, Modric does and Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo is still the best striker in the world).


No, it's to do with how the beautiful round-ball game is wobbling on its axis, if the battle of the 32 nations in the past few weeks is anything to go by.

It's up there with the abuse of animals predicting cup results — Rabio the octopus was sold and devoured despite picking all of Japan's results correctly and Beijing cat White Spot is in moggy heaven after returning a report card of 7 out of 10 — and the use of non-recyclable plastic for grocery bags and packaging.

Here's hoping it doesn't end just as badly for the organisers of the Fifa World Cup which, like it or not, comes across as a gift that'll never lose its novelty.

Right now it's simply a beautiful nightmare — you have a sense of assurance that you will wake up from it at some point.

What disturbs me most after the tourney is the implication — and a degree of acceptance, it seems — that there's nothing distorted about what viewers were seeing unfold on the pitches.

By the way, there's nothing wrong with the advent of the video referee assistant (VAR). It's the right call but what's wrong is the way Fifa is employing it to not only influence the results of matches but also what I believe is redefining the rules of the game.

No doubt it's causing widespread confusion, even among players.

Dejan Lovren (left) reckons Croatia plays better
Dejan Lovren (left) reckons Croatia plays better "football" than France. Here he takes on Antoine Griezmann in the Fifa World Cup final in Moscow. Photo / AP

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren is perhaps the best snapshot of that delusionary state.


"I'm disappointed because we lost the game but played much better football than them," said Lovern, the Liverpool centreback who cast aspersions on the VAR amid claims of a controversial penalty for a handball.

Seriously? Croatia played the tourney with a military precision in the mould of Germany.

But when Lovren asserts the cup upstarts played "beautiful football" and Les Bleus "didn't play football" is he wrong?

After all, what is "football"?

Is it what France, Brazil, Argentina and Spain bring to the stage with passages of razzle dazzle from silky merchants such as Ronaldo, Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Hazard and Raheem Sterling?

I'd like to think "football" is more than just a slogan for propaganda that has spread like a global virus to drive out the demons from anyone who dares to call the game "soccer" outside the United States' borders.

It's tantamount to Western media trying to convince the world US president Donald Trump is somehow a lesser dictator than Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin or that the Statue of Liberty makes America a better tourist destination than the Red Square in Moscow.

But I digress. You see, the Lovrens of the world know no better because that is what they have been indoctrinated to since they started kicking the ball around.

A good part of the world, especially Europe, resort to a regimented type of game that justifies its existence in turning beautiful into ugly through spoiling tactics although the Japan and South Korea types are exceptions because of their sense of discipline.

In Lovern's defence, Croatia had statistically made France look like dunces in the classroom on aspects such as possession, pass accuracy and set-piece play.

Damningly Fifa has granted the cup spoilers time and scope to explore such avenues and implement them but, on the other hand, introduced the VAR to not just engage the masses but also appease the so-called pacifists.

What that means, of course, is that those teams who exude flair — especially South Americans and Africans — will have to go back to the drawing board to factor in an element of gamesmanship.

Players from nations who lost their cool at the world cup and looked clumsy in reacting to crude challenges and seatbelt tackles will now have no choice but to embrace the tactics.

It's a case of if you can't beat them than not only join them but show them you can do it a hell of a lot better than them.

Teams such as England, who have made some strides to find torque from the engine room upwards, will now have to revisit their defensive systems.

On the New Zealand platform, it means the Wellington Phoenix and All Whites need to keep the gap in the spark plugs firing at an optimum level at the coal face but ask former mentor Ricki Herbert to return to show them how to put up the shutters properly before considering playing the ball out from the back.

How Fifa balances its act in the next few years will be interesting, to say the least, to keep factions happy.

It's no secret that the flair players have lost their foothold to European dominance in the crunch stages of the world cup, with the exception of France who have a northern African blend due to its immigrants from former colonies.

Money makes people do weird things so the power brokers will influence how far the game will mutate from its blueprint.

A Colombian fan poses for the TV camera at the World Cup in Russia but Fifa has warned broadcasters to stop singling out
A Colombian fan poses for the TV camera at the World Cup in Russia but Fifa has warned broadcasters to stop singling out "hot" females in the crowd. Photo / Photosport

However, if Fifa can move swiftly to chastise TV camera wallahs who focus on "hot-looking" female fans in the stadiums in Russia than it's safe to say it can act just as efficiently to amend rules that don't enhance the game.

For what it's worth, has Fifa approached some of those eye-catching members of the fairer sex to ask them if they find the cameras offensive?

Maybe it needs to do the same with the rest of the male brigade who turnout in whacky costumes to ensure their privacy is not invaded? What about weeping children in the crowd?

It's discrimination against good-looking people or denting their confidence but that's a different issue to brainstorm another time.

Is there likely to be a tear in the precious fabric of the world's most-embracing team competition to cause a breakaway body from Fifa if the code swivels too far from its axis?

You can never say never to anything, especially if a fair whack of the fraternity start feeling disenfranchised.