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?