From the first set of matches there was a clear indication that there would be a rude battle for the worst team. People in the know always trusted France to take the un-coveted award, which it did brilliantly. But the Italians put a good fight for it and deserve clearly the runner up award of worst team of the World Cup, without even the excuses that teams such as North Korea or New Zealand could offer.
The spoiled brat content of the French team went as far as striking against their coach refusing to train. The detachment from reality, the total lack connection with its fan base have degenerated into a French affaire d'état. Even president Sarkozy got involved. The sad fact is that the French team was a set of guys playing for themselves, for their paycheck and what not, but not for the team, the country or their fans. We learned for example that trainers in France told them they were not obliged to sing the Marseillaise, even at the World Cup. Not that singing the Marseillaise before a match would make much of a difference, but it clearly indicated the general mood, how low had the French football system fallen when discussing singing the national anthem becomes as important as scoring.
The Italians on the other hand suffered from deadly conservatism, absolute lack of innovation and a belief that the World Cup was becoming a birth right of sorts. The question here is not how come the Italians did so poorly this Cup, but how they managed to win it 4 years ago! That they managed to win by, among other things, almost beheading Zidane only postponed the inevitable reckoning, allowing them to postpone by another 4 years any change in the Italian league whose Inter performance this year only hides its general decay when compared to the vibrant Spanish league, e.g. This year they paid the price.
And thus for the first time ever, the winner and the runner up of the preceding World Cup are BOTH eliminated in the first round.
But there is good news and bad news besides those pitiful scenes (I, for one, thought that France should not have even qualified which when all is said would have been a much lesser embarrassment than what happened in South Africa).
The Americas have come out as the main power of the football world! All teams but one gained qualification. Only poor Honduras failed to make it to the second round. Africa barely got one team in. Asia did a tad better and Europe did less well than usual (heck! with France and Italy out, with Germany and Spain having a harder time than expected...)
And the bad news is that Venezuela is not about to qualify any time soon. All the teams that beat Venezuela in the qualifying round did make it to the World cup second round...