Soccerball Open Thread

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Well it's tied up at the half, and I have no money on this game (Do they call it a game in soccer, or a match? A scrum? A rubber?), so I'll declare that I'm for France, but that's mostly because I've never been to Italy. Other opinions? Anybody up for re-roasting the why-Americans-don't-watch-FuรŸball chestnut? Any fans of the pro-commie documentary The Game of Their Lives, about the heroic North Korean team of Old '66? Operators are standing by.

NEXT: John Money Dies

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  1. I have no interest in the game, but I can only hope that France will win, to piss off those assholes at the Weekly Standard, who can’t stand to see the French accomplish anything. The Standard has already “proved” that soccer is decadent, not say non-human, because it eschews the use of one of our most human physical features, our opposable thumbs. As if those weenies at the Standard could excell at anything except one of our least attractive human activities, whining.

  2. 1-1 at the end of regulation. Refs have been a bit more likely to let ’em play this game. Zidane’s chipshot was a thing of friggin’ beauty.

    As for using your hands playing soccer, the Italians seem to do it after every slight bit of contact. I haven’t seen acting as prolific as there’s throughout the tournament since Tom Hanks’ multi-Oscar heyday playing variations on a gay retard theme.

    Got to go with hoping France pulls it out. Zidane is worthy, and the Italians are nothing short of irritating. Plus they were handed a gift against the the Aussies and are lucky to even be there.

  3. The Standard has already “proved” that soccer is decadent, not say non-human, because it eschews the use of one of our most human physical features, our opposable thumbs.

    So that would make video games the pinnacle of sports evolution?

  4. That headbutt to the chest that Zidane just threw might be his last play ever on the pitch, and it was a beauty. Here’s hoping his teammates pull it out for him.

  5. Jamie Kelly,

    Still bitter that you were such a lousy athlete you got picked last for the grade school soccer team?

  6. Congratulations to Italy.

    Oh Zizou, why the headbutt?

    *sigh*

  7. Happy Hairy Ball Juggler:
    When I was a kid, only the losers who couldn’t make it in baseball or football went out for soccer. It was basically for the retards who amused themselves by running around in circles. Meanwhile, the rest of us were playing real sports. And I was an all-star athlete in baseball.

  8. happyjuggler0,

    I’d stop biting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. That Wop probably called Zidane Osama.

    And the true winner in the World Cup is, as with everything, Israel.

  10. Now baseball … there’s your sport right there, pallie. Beautiful, poetic, pure, democratic, lofty.

    …boring.

  11. Baseball is democratic? So they vote for who wins each game? ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I read this debate on whether Association Football would ever catch on here this morning over breakfast, and it amused me.

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/worldcup/2006-07-06-soccer-in-the-us_x.htm

    One thing I can’t understand is how a Quadrennial World Championship in the world’s favorite sport can be decided by such an artificial gimmick as a Golden Goal shootout. The NHL has recently added shootouts, but not in the Stanley Cup playoffs. I’ve watched games with as many as 5 sudden-death overtimes that were absolutely gripping. I think the comparison to ice hockey is instructive. The games are similar strategically, and both have an offsides rule. In hockey’s, however, one is rewarded for, not prevented from, getting past the last defender. The handling of fouls and outright violence is more honest, too.

    As for soccer being more “capitalist”, don’t the Euros have actual “Ministries of Sport” in their cabinets? If they avoid subsidizing stadium construction, more power to them, though.

    I have attempted to understand No Hands Football. I read Hornby’s Fever Pitch and David Winner’s wonderful book about Dutch football, Brilliant Orange. My Dad, a high school coach of all sports in a district that only started playing USA-gridiron-style football after he retired, actually had to coach soccer for a few years. I went to several games with him as a child, so the rules don’t really faze me. But I was never encouraged to take up the sport, which my H.S. didn’t play, anyway, outside of gym class. Still, I have more emotional connection to hurling and Gaelic Football than I do to the FA/FIFA/MSL code. I like rugby better, too.

    Match spoiler here

    Kevin

    Anybody seen Once In A Lifetime, the doco about the NASL, the New York Cosmos, and the Great Soccer Scare of the Disco Era yet?

  13. Heh, the White House has to be happy about this. Coalition of the Willing 1, Cheese-eating Surrender Monkeys 0.

  14. I am not much of a soccer fan, but I do not see the criticism that there is not enough scoring. I would rather see a 1-0 baseball game than the 14-11 home run derbies of the steroid era. 1-0 hockey games can also be very exciting. The problem with soccer is that not enough happens between the scoring.

  15. the Italians are nothing short of irritating. Plus they were handed a gift against the the Aussies and are lucky to even be there.

    Comment by: chewy at July 9, 2006 03:58 PM

    that’s b.s. the Italian team played nearly half the game with one fewer player, when a player was expelled for a called foul that wasn’t in fact a foul at all, if you watched the replay, and nearly scored a few times, and likely WOULD have scored if they’d had their full complement. If Australia’s team was worth anything, they’d have been able to score when they were running around with an extra man on the field.

  16. Well, yet another key international soccer match, this time the most important game of all, the World Cup Finals, was decided by penalty kicks. Penalty kicks are the most absurd way to determine a championship that I can imagine. They are barely one step removed from a coin toss in terms of their ability to really determine who the best team is. Its like giving up on a baseball game in the 12th inning and settling it with a home run derby.

    I understand that in regular matches and probably in pool play, logistics require that games not go on for hours and penalty kicks make sense. But by the time you get to the quarterfinals, and certainly the finals, why can’t they just play the freaking game until someone wins? That’s what they do in the Stanley Cup, and in US pro football — each have ways of settling ties quickly for regular season games, but once crunch time comes, they play until there is a winner. In Wimbledon, they settle sets with tie breakers but come the fifth set, they play until someone wins. Its not like the stadium is booked for anything else the rest of the day. And do they really think anyone in the stands is going to get tired and go home? Pro hockey fans will tell you there is no more compelling time in their sport than overtime in a Stanley Cup Final. How great would it have been to have just left the two teams on the field until one was a winner, even if that took two more hours? I mean, they have waited four years for this moment, they can’t put in a few more minutes on the field?

    As an American non-soccer guy, I have really given this World Cup a chance. I was in England for much of the tournament, so I not only watched but got to experience some of the excitement of the populous. And I have, excluding the silly play-acting fake injury thing, mostly enjoyed the games. But they lost me right at the end. Settling their once-every-four-years world championships with ridiculous penalty kicks demonstrates to me that soccer types have no respect for their own game. After just 30 minutes of overtime, they give up on their own game and have teams play a different game to determine a winner. So if they don’t have respect for their own game, why should I have any? Americans are never going to fall in love with a game that decides its championships with the moral equivalent of a coin flip.

  17. Ummm, hey! Elway was great! Wasn’t he?

    …boring.

    Yeah, I can’t get much into baseball either. But since our man, Tim Cavanaugh, digs it, there’s gotta be something good about it.

    Bumper sticker seen here in the Denver area:

    God I miss Reagan and Elway

  18. Americans love football. Americans have no use for soccer.
    Baseball is nearly as boring, and far more sissified than soccer. I’d rather watch golf than either (if you’re going to watch something that’s er, relaxing, there should at least be a ‘no shouting’ rule).

    I don’t know why so many people think scoring makes sports interesting. I personally enjoy the defense more than the offence in most sports. Indeed the rules in pro basketball that drive scores into the triple digits, make the game unwatchable to me. Now college basketball, that is the very best sport that has ever been played. These days, the women’s game is as good as (if not better than) the men’s.

  19. France played the better game, france deserved to win. Any team that can make it that far with that nut of a man in goal deserves to win. And I have to say frankly I am fine with Zidines headbutt, showed some balls, something Italy didn’t do as they constantly flopped, acted, and argued calls. Here is to our racist italian world champion soccer team.

  20. These days, the women’s game is as good as (if not better than) the men’s

    Bullshit. Every city in this country has a pick up game that is better than the WNBA. One of the top college women’s teams scrimmages against high school boys, and regularly loses. Biology has condemned women to playing a boring version of basketball.

  21. GBMD,
    I wasn’t clear in my assertion. I didn’t mean to imply that women could compete against men. I mean that I enjoy watching the women as much as the men. They don’t jump as high, and they may be a step slower, but they are real trained athletes. The offence and defense, strategy and execution, is every bit as sophisticated in the women’s game as the men’s. In fact, I think the inches they give up results in a style of play that works harder for a good look at the rim.

  22. Baseball is a sport for pussies.

    Baseball players aas athletes? Two words: Mickey Lolich

    Racial slur or not, Zidane was an idiot.

  23. At least in England, I believe all stadiums are funded entirely by the team, through bank loans, sponsorship deals etc. Before they started building their new stadium, Arsenal had to buy out the existing tenants on the selected site (and pay their relocation costs to boot.) It should also be pointed out that sponsorship deals are a much bigger deal in Euro soccer than in American sports – even the Premier League has a corporate sponsor, and there are advertising logos everywhere.

  24. Warren,

    All the strategy in the world doesn’t help if the players can’t hit an open jumper. There is a reason that the WNBA has to be subsidized by the NBA.

    Surf,

    Mickey Lolich? You can’t come up with an example from this century? Pitchers do not have to be great athletes and there have been a few stocky guys who make pretty good baseball players (Kirby, Matt Stairs, Kruk) but for the most part Baseball players are great athletes.

  25. France played the better game, france deserved to win. Any team that can make it that far with that nut of a man in goal deserves to win. And I have to say frankly I am fine with Zidines headbutt, showed some balls, something Italy didn’t do as they constantly flopped, acted, and argued calls.

    Excuse me? Did you watch the freakin’ game? France’s only goal came from Zidane’s flop.

  26. When I played baseball I was a catcher. Having a huge outfielder or 1st baseman barrel into you while you try to apply a tag isn’t too wussy.

    Imagine if Prince Fielder were bearing down on you! Ask Todd Greene what that feels like. Shortstops getting out of the way of baserunners trying to break up the double play have to be tough, too. Then there’s the joy of getting beaned with a 90+ mph fastball.

    I ain’t an athlete, lady, I’m a baseball player. – John Kruk

    Kevin

  27. First, the only real sport is professional basketball. Everything else is a game.

    Second, soccer is an abomination. Any game where ties are common is awful, and any game where you actually play for the tie is even worse. Here’s what they could do to fix it: if the game is tied, both teams have to pull their goalies in overtime. Somebody would have to score some goals. And I might even watch.

  28. On the other side of the coin, scoring is so freakin’ common in professional basketball that it has lost nearly all significance and tuning into the last 2 minutes (read: half hour) is sufficient to get the story of the game.

    (See, I can make overly simplistic arguments to make a sport look bad too! I am a MAN!)

    jonathan, apparently YOU didn’t watch the “freakin’ game”, as it was Malouda who allegedly flopped, not Zidane. Besides which, it really doesn’t tell you who played the more positive and technical game to look at who scored under what circumstances. For about 90 of the 120 minutes played, France played Italy off the park.

    As for the floppage, nearly every replay I saw confirmed the call as a good PK. Only one brought it into question. Meanwhile, the referee missed an even clearer penalty later on in the second half, also from a run by Malouda.

  29. Cavanaugh, instead of the pro-commie film, you could read the book by the same title about the 1950 US team beating England (the best team in the world) at the Cup in Brazil.

    They were going to make a film out of it, but the North Korea-story filmmakers stole the title. I can’t remember what they decided to call it in the end.

    Assholes.

  30. What one likes or dislikes in a sport is fairly subjective, so these claims about what is and is not a “real sport” are fairly ludicrous. Of course, maybe they were meant in fun and are supposed to be ludicrous.

  31. David Wells

  32. The reason soccer is a pussy sport is not that it is so much less violent than all other sports (obviously it isn’t) but because acting like a pussy is so highly rewarded (taking dives).

    You can take a dive in hockey or basketball but in both those sports it seems to happen much less often and when it does the reward for it is much less significant to the overall outcome of the game. The only close analogs in baseball I can think of are leaning in to get hit with a pitch (which is kinda the opposite of being a pussy) or sliding to take out the short stop/second basemen when he’s way off the bag (as a certain asshole on the white sox did today ultimately costing the red sox the game some ungodly number of innings later). But anyway it seemed like even in the World Cup games where they weren’t calling an absurd number of fouls over half of the penalties were on absolute bullshift dives.

  33. “One of the top college women’s teams scrimmages against high school boys, and regularly loses. Biology has condemned women to playing a boring version of basketball.”

    Very true. Also true is that the women’s world record for the 100m–still held by the late mustachioed Florence Griffith Joyner and set in 1988–is eclipsed by several state records set by high school boys. In fact, her 10.49 is much much slower than the 10.08 national boy’s high school record.

    So saying that the best women in any sport are surpassed by high school boys is pretty accurate.

  34. You can take a dive in hockey or basketball but in both those sports it seems to happen much less often and when it does the reward for it is much less significant to the overall outcome of the game.

    I thought boxing was the sport where you get rewarded for taking a dive.

  35. My late Uncle George, who was considered a tall man in his prime years, used to opine that basketball went downhill ever since the elimination of the center jump after each basket. He used to win a lot of them, as you might imagine.

    There is diving in hockey, but divers are scorned as the gutless scum that they are. Diving is dangerous, too, as the ref may send the budding thespian to the sin bin. The call can be delayed, too, so, while Olivier-on-skates lays on the ice importuning the ref for a penalty – or even a penalty shot – play can continue, with the weenie’s side effectively a man down. One had better be good at it.

    No surprise that diving is more popular in European hockey than in North America, either. European coaches, especially the Russians were fond of cross-training their squads by having them play soccer. Its pernicious influence is obvious.

    Of course, NBAers who drive the lane and NFL receivers all whine for calls, too. At least the flopping defender in basketball risks something. That’s hardwood he’s hitting, not a grass field.

    Kevin

  36. I didn’t watch (but knew Italy had won when I heard the commotion & fireworks in the neighborhood), but I’d rather see them share the trophy than decide it by — ugh — penalty kicks.

  37. Diving in soccer is very much frowned-upon in the US (yes, there are soccer fans here who aren’t from the Old Country – really!), England and most of Northern Europe. Even in Southern Europe where players seem more likely to do it, fan sentiment is at least split (when your team is not involved).

    Certain parts of South America accept it, certain parts vilify it. Mexico mixes diving with very dirty tackles (against the US, anyway). With the exception of Ghana vs. US this time around, most of Africa seems to frown on diving. Aussies would rather be dismembered before taking any dives.

    The East Asian culture also frowns on it. I’m not sure of the rest of the world.

    FIFA surely frowns on diving, but they don’t do anything about it. They are the gutless wonders.

    Overall, a vast majority of fans would LOVE to see diving go away. Until the incentives (or lack of disincentives) to dive go away, diving will stay, especially when there’s so much at stake for the players, and the countries’ FAs (a whole hell of a lot more than in the NHL, NBA, MLB, or NFL seasons).

  38. I agree that penalties are an awful way to decide a final (or any game – my last playoff game in high school was decided that way and I still remember it almost exclusively for that).

    However, given the money, logistics and other factors involved in putting on an event of this magnitude, what’s the better way, after 120 minutes of soccer?

  39. During the match I was gradually becoming less unsympathetic towards a French victory. And then, Zidane performed his very last act as a football player.

    Good. I’m glad they lost.

    (And btw, football is the “beautiful game”. Cristiano Ronaldo moving the ball down the field… Poetry in motion.)

  40. The games I enjoyed the most were the ones in which the refs let the players play without calling every willy-nilly contact. The first penalty kick France got, I would not have called. The second one that wasn’t called seemed a much more clear penalty. There is so much subjectivity in it. If play were allowed to go on more often, it would discourage players from taking dives, as you have taken yourself out of the action. But then that encourages rough play, since you won’t get called for it. So a tight line has to be walked, but I’d rather see it walked on the lenient side.

    The worst dive I saw this time around was Germany-Portugal, a German player was slightly clipped while driving with the ball. He kept his balance and clearly was back on stride for a couple of steps; then, promptly fell down. I’m sure there was some strategic reason for doing so, but in my opinion he looked like an idiot.

  41. I agree that penalties are an awful way to decide a final (or any game – my last playoff game in high school was decided that way and I still remember it almost exclusively for that).

    However, given the money, logistics and other factors involved in putting on an event of this magnitude, what’s the better way, after 120 minutes of soccer?

    My opinion is that they should play another game tomorrow. Extra time is lame in that the teams are too tired to put on a good show, and penalty kicks suck, so just give everybody a night’s rest and try again.

  42. Haven’t seen the 3rd place match yet, but if there was a German dive worse than ANY of Ronaldo’s I’d be shocked. That man is a complete disgrace to the game and the country of Portugal.

    It’s too bad, as when he actually decides to play football, he’s a brilliant talent. Unfortunately, he would often rather play for an Oscar.

    I, too, enjoyed the games where they let things go more. Interesting that this started to happen after all the riff-raff were knocked out of the group stage. I hate to sound the conspiracy alarm, but after all the whining that the Europeans did 4 years ago, it seems mighty interesting that the cards and the whistles dried up completely in the later stages, when the “upstarts” had been taken out, primarily due to game-changing and inconsistent applications of FIFA’s asinine new directives (see: US v. Italy, US v. Ghana, Australia v. Italy for a sampling).

    In addition to “letting them play” and ignoring dives, punishing obvious dives after the match via video replay using big fines and suspensions will clean the game up significantly.

    Despite Zidane’s act of madness, he will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play. I’m still in shock over it. He HAD to have been provoked, not that it excuses it. I’m thinking an extremely racist remark, or something about his religion or family (HUGE issue with Zidane) was said. Coming from a defender known for being absolutely brutal and nasty, it doesn’t surprise me.

  43. Timon19,

    I won’t let this single event cheat me of my appreciation of Zidane’s career and talents.

  44. Phil Lip,

    Unfortunately for Zidane, this single event will most likely cast a long shadow over what was otherwise a brilliant career.

  45. Solitudinarian,

    Oh, I’ve already seen the hype from the sports reporters about this, as if Zizou had turned war criminal or some such. I suspect though that he’ll keep his silence (as he is prone to do) and that may end up killing much of the speculation on the matter. Anyway, I stand by my statement.

  46. Phil Lip,

    Don’t get me wrong – I wish the best for the guy. It was just the worst possible time to lose his cool and I’m guessing he won’t be allowed to forget it for some time to come.

  47. Solitudnarian,

    Maybe.

  48. I tried to be all “international” and watch the game yesterday. I was only reminded how lame soccer is. Both goals scored were lame – one was granted by the ref, the second on a corner kick – which is somewhat better but still cheezy. Then the ref took a goal away from the Italians. I do not think the ref was bad, but it is the very nature of soccer that made his interpretation the deciding factor in 2/3 of the goals (almost) scored. No other sport is this idiotic. To then decide the game by penalty kicks? What the heck? I could just give you a coin to flip and save us all ten minutes. Mathematically, it is just about as likely to pick the “better” team as seeing which team misses a 90% chance first.

    Soccer is slow motion hockey with a bunch of lame rules played by wusses. Thanks but no thanks.

    PS:) Line changes…for the love of God, why can’t soccer have them…does anyone else find amusement in watching a bunch of dead-tired guys dragging themselves around the field, playing for the tie?

  49. Curious how many of the posters here have actually played competitive soccer? Especially those disparaging the game…not that typing on a blog requires an informed opinion of course ๐Ÿ˜‰

  50. I just hate the concept of the off sides rule. If your sport requires the imposition of a rule that says “Okay, you can do anything you want except beat your defender without the ball,” well, it just seems like a fundamental flaw.

  51. Jason,
    The offsides rule is to prevent cherry picking. As soon as the ball is kicked, you can move past your defender. The NFL equivalent would be a receiver standing offsides before the snap.

    Oh, I’ve already seen the hype from the sports reporters about this, as if Zizou had turned war criminal or some such. I suspect though that he’ll keep his silence (as he is prone to do) and that may end up killing much of the speculation on the matter. Anyway, I stand by my statement.

    That’s a bit of an exageration. He does deserve to get vilified. His team was outplaying their opponent at the end. He’s their captain and he head-butts his opponent in the chest with 10 minutes to go. There is no equivalent to that in any other event of comprable importance* and it was an idiotic move. Most of all, veterans should know better than to do this sort of shit. If what was said to him was so bad, headbutt him during the jersey exchange.

    You may think the criticism is overwrought, but it’s no more than the excessive collective bj the media was giving him before the game. Had he not done that as his swan song, he’d still be getting the collective bj. (Did someone say Zizou for president?)

  52. Mo,

    Not biting.

  53. Gaijin,
    I played indoor soccer for awhile as recently as a year ago. I also coach a girl’s soccer team although I may give that up in the near future. The reason I had to give it up is that I have been fighting the battle of the bulge for the past few years and have been losing more than I have been winning. Soccer is an intense aerobic workout. You simply cannot play it effectively if you are at all fat. That doesn’t seem, to my eyes, to be as true in our national sport. The difference between the amount of ground covered by a baseball player and a soccer player is laughably huge. The only comparable popular game is probably basketball. I simply enjoy soccer more than basketball, because it seems to me that soccer is a sport where short people can still have a chance (look at Ribery and Gattuso, both of whom were prominent players in the final) and that makes me smile.
    Jason,
    There is no offsides rule in indoor soccer. There is a smallish inddor soccer league. Their games are quite a bit more intense than the regular soccer and are worth checking out.
    BTW, the assistant referee stole that goal from ITaly in the second half. THey weren’t offsides at all from what I could see.

  54. mk,
    Big difference with basketball. In hoops, you can take a break and come back in.

  55. Mo,
    I didn’t know that. I’m really learning something here.
    You can also take a break and return in indoor soccer which is one of the reasons why the game remains pretty intense throughout.

  56. Here’s what’s wrong with soccer in no particular order:

    A great play in sports usually requires hands – It’s not that soccer doesn’t have great plays but that they are few and far between. Hands-based sports have tons of plays that can make highlight reels, everything from diving catches in baseball, to no look passes in basketball, to broken tackles in football.

    There’s rarely a sense that a player is going to score even when near the opposing goal – As mentioned above, soccer and hockey are very similar. But even when it’s a low-scoring hockey game when a play is rushing into opposing ice there’s that feeling that something big might happen. Not so with soccer.

    The field is too big – Let’s say my team’s defender strips away the ball and starts the play the other way. So much time is spent getting the ball to midfield and if the ball isn’t turned over (which half the time it is) then it’s into scoring position. Too long, too slow. Basketball requires a shot in 24 seconds. A 99-yard football play takes a few seconds, as does an end-to-end play in hockey.

    Defense can’t score – There are no breakaways in soccer. Besides baseball, every other major sport has someway of turning a busted offensive play into a quick score for the defense. That’s exciting.

  57. “The offsides rule is to prevent cherry picking. As soon as the ball is kicked, you can move past your defender. The NFL equivalent would be a receiver standing offsides before the snap.”

    That’s a streeeetttcchh. D-backs can’t simply abandon their defense by stepping forward to create a penalty on the part of the receiver.

  58. For all this desire to “fix” football, it remains an amazingly popular sport.

  59. I actually agree with a couple of the points that muchsarcasm makes (sarcasm aside). But I can’t help but think that it is TOO easy to score in basketball. The difficulty of scoring in soccer makes those few scores especially highlight reel worthy. The downside being when games go scoreless or when a team wins with a penalty kick.
    Oh, and since when does anything in baseball deserve a highlight reel? If I wanted to see chubby moustachioed guys falling to their knees and grabbing for balls I’ll visit the local bathhouse.

  60. I like soccer just fine. And I’m a big American football fan, too. Have I crossed the streams?

    Honestly, I don’t get the whole argument. Like any other sport/indigenous form of entertainment, you either enjoy watching it and/or playing it, or you don’t. Soccer isn’t any more boring in any objective sense than our principal sports, and there’s no question at all that it takes athleticism and skill to play. I wish we had a better and bigger professional league, but that’s not the case. Maybe someday, when our demographics change or when we actually win a World Cup.

  61. Zidane was first given a titty twister and as they were seperateing the italian guy said something racist. Zidane’s agent says Zidane won’t way what he said but that it will come out within the next week. Also Viera thought about running on the field…as in Henry had to hold him back. Basically the Italians won because of a titty twister and a racist remark not because they played better.

  62. PL and PL:

    No, no, no. We are talking about OBJECTIVE fun here. Get it straight …

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