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Thursday 6 July 2006

Layman's view of football [Lurks]

I'm an Australian right or, I guess, an ex-Australian at any rate. So that means I was brought up in a country where the only people that played soccer were girls. Seriously, the boys played cricket and rugby and the girls played soccer. Well the greeks played soccer too but we thought that was just because they liked the silk shorts but that's another matter. The point is I know fuck all about the game and I've been vocal about how much I don't like it for a long time. However I'm not a complete kill-joy. When it comes to the World Cup, I make an exception and take an interest. Why not? It's a huge event.
To be fair, I've been amazed at the level of skill in evidence. This has got to be the most indivually skillful game played on anything like this scale on the planet. Just by watching them I can almost feel the hours, days, months and years of training these guys have engaged in to get to this sort of level of kicking a ball around. That's what makes it fun to watch and why I've revised my view to the point that I'd actually go watch a game.
However also coming at it from the layman's view, I can see plenty wrong with the game. There's two big issues I have with it. The first is player behavior and the second is how easy it to stalemate.
The first point, diving and stuff like that. I guess football fans just lap this stuff up as an accepted thing but I find it sad and a little sickening truth be told. What you're doing is cheating. In full view, pretending to be fouled. Everyone can see you do it but because this whole game is stuck in the dark ages of having refs on pitches calling the shots, they get away with it. I see no reason why the sport has to let itself down in this way. Get refs on cameras. Award fouls on diving as well as the rest of the shit. Get this cheating junk out of the goddamn game - surely it would have occured to FIFA or whoever it is that runs this shit by now?
The other issue is the stalemates. The bottom line is that it's too hard score in a modern environment. Nothing has changed about the game specifications wise, I'm told, for hundreds of years. Since there men are taller, fitter, skills are better. Any which way you look at it, having a 90 minute game and then going to an extra 30 minutes and it's still a draw - it's too hard to score. Particularly when the absurd rules of the World Cup mean that it goes to this deeply silly and random penalty shootout stuff to get a decider.
It seems doubly absurd to me that a game which is all about tactics, skill and teamplay ends up getting decided in the end by something so random as a point blank kick at a goal.
Strangely this stuff, even from a layperson's point of view, would seem easy to fix. Use refs on video with radios etc to rule on fouls, penalise diving and generally make it clear this is unacceptable behavior. Secondly, make the goals bigger. Why not? Sure at a lower level the game might end up with more scoring but it's more scoring on both sides. What possible downside?
Maybe, even probably, I'm missing something. However as it stands I think that stuff needs to be fixed to win me over completely. Well, actually, I might be a bit harder to please since I'm not keen on foreign talent being bought for so-called local clubs but at least they can fix the basics?


  1. My flabber is ghasted. Lurks. A footie fan.
    All it takes is some decent games :) anyway.
    Goal sizes were set around 1900, I've a book on the history of Scottish Football where it makes the point about players physique and the goalmouth. It;s an obvious change. 10% all round the goals would be a big plus.
    But there have been lots of advances to make football better, the lighter ball makes more goals for a start. Better footware makes bending the ball easier so you get more goals from set peices.
    Diving is a disgrace, but you'll find it's more prevalent outwith the UK. If you do attend a footie match, of a decent level, in the uk you'll hardly see diving. Certainly not at the level to which the portugese descend.
    FIFA have a directive which states the rules must be applicable planet wide. Thats why technology hasn't made a big entry into football. The rules are the same in the sunday league as for the EPL/SPL La Liga etc...
    Eventually they'll fold, there's already a 4th official trackside. It'll come that they review vids and radio the ref. But football very much relies on the flow of the game, if it's broken up to often the game invariably suffers.
    More punitive punishment is required for people though. You can take a yellow card knowing that it's saved a goal and yet stay on the pitch. This is shite frankly.
    Sinbins are required in exceptional circumstances, 5/10minutes off as well as a yellow would stop cynical hacks.
    Subs as well, too often you see a team make a tactical change. Then a guy gets hurt and they're left with 10, but have fit guys on the bench. If the refs and both teams physios decide the guy cant continue, because of a yellow/red challenge, then you get a free substitution.
    Free kicks. A ref in south america invented his own spray, he marks 10 yards out then sprays the ground. Wall must be placed there, it dissolves naturally within minutes. Loads of time saved and no-one can complain. Is it being used worldwide? Is it fuck. Daft, it'd be a great innovation to the game.
    As for penalties love or loathe them they are the best way to finish a match. If they've played for 2 hours the body can only take so much. Then it comes to nerve, skill and bottle. Pretty fitting way to finish when sheer endeavour hasn't overcome the opposition. TV has schedules to keep you know.
    I've a great email about rule changes which might interest you here

  2. That pretty much echoes my own feelings on this game that everyone else discusses while I just smile politely through whole conversations. My birthplace, Gloucestershire, much like Aus has Rugby (for the burly) & Cricket for those adverse to tucking their heads under men's bottoms.
    During my teens I took up basketball, in which unlike football the referees have control of the game. Unsporting play can be penalised with a technical foul for which the opposing team can get free throws etc & you can be sent off for swearing, backtalk to the ref or dodgy/overenthusiastic fouls. The result is that the players have respect for the rules, each other & the referee. This is in complete contrast with football where players at the highest level operate without a shred of professionalism or sportsmanship. This obviously filters down the levels & to the fans as acceptable behaviour. There's an piece in todays Times where various figureheads whinge about the fact that some thug player was prosecuted for punching another player on the pitch. I'm all for it if it will raise the standards of a game that I only view with contempt at present.
    And yes, it could do with upping the goal rate that gives some games that "sorry dear, I couldn't manage it tonight" feeling. Just without going to the other end of the scale like basketball where individual goals don't usually count for much & so make it less spectator friendly.
    Perhaps after 90 mins and extra time they should give them guns? ;)

  3. Good thoughts there lads. My suggestions:
    1) After 90 minutes and extra time they have to play Football Manager 2006 on huge screens.
    2) In all premiership matches the players should come on to the pitch at end of the game to receive their wages (with the amount flashed up on the screens ) while the crowd pass judgement on whether they deserved them of not....