Optus’ World Cup: The unexpected virtue of incompetence

While Optus’ World Cup coverage has been poor, it is their peerless level of incompetence that has given us all something greater: Peace through War.



As I sat through last night’s SBS broadcast of the latest English crusade into the ramshackle defence of the Holy Land, I realised something. The chain of fuck-ups to bring us all to the chirp of the referee’s whistle was historic, and daresay it, quite marvellous.

Let me preface this, I’m a shanghaied customer of the Singaporean telco. If I wanted to watch the games, I’d pay the bounty, or be forced to walk the plank of FOMO. I paid the money, the service was poor. But as the kids say, I ain’t even mad though. 

Because it gave us something more precious.

What Optus really offered, was itself. A goat that tied itself to the stake, pointing us to the tastier parts of its flank. Now, Australia, as we know, loves to complain. Especially regarding a service that wasn’t up to mustard. Take a leisurely stroll down the war-torn streets of famous brands’ Facebook pages, or the girth of A Current Affair or Today/Tonight’s programming gut for evidence of our national condition.

However, this whole Optus thing was special because it reached the Mount Olympus of complaint. Because the standard we received for free was better than the standard we paid for, this was a moment where up we could no longer put. It was a moment, as Abraham Lincoln described his own split country (also about the rights of the customer), a house that was divided by itself could not stand.



Optus’ incompetence was a magic wand swept over the continent. Prior to Optus getting its own balls twisted in its own net, we were a country divided. We had clear division. There were World Cup people, and there were non-World Cup people. People loved SBS, people thought SBS were ethnic communists. Malcolm Turnbull was bad, and he can fuck all the way off.

But, moments after Optus’ nervously voided its bowels all over our loungerooms, things changed. SBS was exhumed and heralded as the golden god of football broadcasting (which it was, which is to say that it isn’t now, RIP Les), The World Cup was propped up as a basic human right on par with running water, and Malcolm Turnbull had the greatest win of his political career, doing what we all threatened to do, and called up the Optus Helpdesk to complain.



For this, he was collectively heralded as a genius, and he gained something far more precious. For one amber moment, we shuffled over, and let him huddle over our bonfire, like people. He was one of the lads. Our ivory tower was of equal height to his. Naw.



The beauty of this moment was the meta incompetence that birthed it.

SBS lost the rights to the World Cup, because they couldn’t afford it. They couldn’t, because their funding was cut.

On the Optus side, perhaps the nation could stream sport online more easily if our NBN wasn’t slower than Borat Sagdiyev’s.

Guess which man was responsible for both?


Bow down to your gooooodddd.


But, that’s all background. We got to watch the World Cup for free, for 48 hours. Peace (or uniform complaint) descended on this land, and for that, we should not forget. We can get along.

We just need to keep chasing our meta-scapegoat, our Optus.




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