View Full Version : World Cup Thoughts

06-26-2006, 06:09 PM
Call it the ageing process but I have not watched virtually every match of the World Cup as I would have in the past.

Everyone's raving about the Argentinians and it is true that their performance against Serbia-Montenegro was awesome but they are capable of being stifled. As the Greeks demonstrated in Euro 2004, play tight and ugly (I remember Norway v Italy in 1994 when the Norwegians appeared never to have strayed past the half way line) and hit them on the break once you draw them in.

Brazil have been disappointing. So much talent but striving to gel as a unit. Ronaldo is definitely overweight and out of form (he hasn't been so great at Real Madrid this season) BUT I wish him well. I hope they come alive now we are in the knock out stages.

The English have been very disappointing yet they've got the results. Could they do what Italy did in 1982 -start off poorly but develop as the tournament progresses and win it? They don't look like winners at the moment so let's see if their perpetual conquerors Portugal can be humbled this weekend.

Very pleased for Ghana. First time qualifiers but they have an illustrious place in African football history. They were the kings of African football in the 1960s (at national level) and I remember the clubside Ashanti Kotoko winning the Champions Club tournament twice in the 1970s when the North Africans were pretty dominant. Shame they have to tussle with Brazil at an early stage.

The match I enjoyed the most so far has been Argentina v Mexico.

Here are two links:

Official FIFA World Cup Website:


Democracy Now: The World Cup -War, Peace and racism


06-26-2006, 06:55 PM
Somebody's playing soccer somewhere?

06-26-2006, 07:21 PM
"Somebody's playing soccer somewhere?"

Hey!! That's a deliberate provocation.

Uhmm, I'd say 'bout a couple of billion are watching some guys play football in stadia across Germany........


Budweiser are running a series of gag-adverts on the Independent Television (ITV) channel and it's not an edifying sight for any self respecting Yank. You have these two nerdy American studio types; one sports anchor and the other an analyst constantly putting their foot in by for instance, expressing their surprise at the Dutch not playing "soccer" in wooden boots.

As the catchphrase goes: "You do the Football, we'll do the Beer."

06-27-2006, 01:44 PM
I like guys who watch soccer once every four years, expounding about "matches" on "the pitch" and scores that are "level, nil-nil." It does bring out the pretentiousness in sports fans like few other events.

06-27-2006, 02:10 PM
Like another famous German once said..."I know nothing..............."

I am glad that some on the board follow the Cup matches, that way I can say I have friends that are really into soccer....

I just never developed an interest in the sport.

06-27-2006, 02:40 PM
"I like guys who watch soccer once every four years, expounding about "matches" on "the pitch" and scores that are "level, nil-nil." It does bring out the pretentiousness in sports fans like few other events."

O.K, O.K., so 0-0 and 1-1 is not impressive to one presumably weened on 120-119 basketball matches and 28-20 Gridiron scores but you savour each goal all the more because they usually don't come in torrents.

"Pretentiousness"? You surely cannot be talking about anyone who lives and breathes football in Rio or Wolverhampton or Bremen or Accra or Tehran. Some low scoring matches can be boring, true but it's all about the level of incident (misses, fouls etc) and skills (neutralising the oppositions formation, dribbles and spectacular goals).

You must be referring to some bloke who wanting to differ from what I presume to be incessant talk about baseball, Gridiron and Basketball develops a 4-yearly interest in "soccer." There's one in every crowd.

Hell, in the knock out stages of any competition, when the match is level they have penalties which frequently develop into sudden death -a test of nerve, fortitude and skill. Nothing pretentious about that my good man........

07-02-2006, 05:18 AM
Well, it's 'Vive le France.' The French team who have been so disappointing since they lost thier world and European titles respectively in 2002 and 2004 in pretty ignominious circumstances are now truly resurgent; even resurrected. Zinedine Zidane has not played well for the past couple of seasons for the underachieving Real Madrid side and like Patrick Viera and Lillian Thuram seemed to be on the wane. Thierry Henry has also been suspected of failing to rise to the big occasion. In contrast to their woeful displays in the earlier matches, their performances against Spain and now Brazil were awesome in terms of grit, skill and organisation.

Contrast this to the tearful end of the English who have some remarkably talented players but who failed to live up to standards expected of them. England can't do penalties. Jinx or training? Do Englishmen become more stressed than Germans or Portuguese when it comes to sudden death? I don't want to go there but the true reason for failure has to be with the system used by the manager. It's simple. The raw material is there but it is always a struggle fitting this player in and so on.

Very disappointed with the African performances -apart from Ghana's display against the Czechs and also the Ivory Coast. Problems of making European based players gel with players from indeginous leagues and also the fact that even when most of the players are based in European leagues some are in the higher divisions while most are not. Local leagues simply need to be developed and be freed of political interference.

It is also a shame that the South American super powers, Argentina and Brazil are out. This was supposed to be the tournament of Ronaldinho. Just like things came together for Maradona in 1986, the feeling was that this world cup would likely be the culmination and consolidation of his professional rise (albeit that he was a world cup winner four years ago).

But Brazil failed to play like Brazil and I hope that France now go on to win it provided they continue with the style and substance they have displayed in their last two matches. The 'rainbow' team of 1998 which won the world cup consisted of Armenian, African, African-Caribbean, Polynesian, Basque and Gaelic players and appeared to symbolise a template for the success of multi-culturalism. That became somewhat tarnished with the poor displays in recent major tournaments and the riots that shook France recently. Here's a chance to shove one down Jean Marie Le Pen who claimed there were too many 'coloured' players in the French team; just like they shoved it down the Spanish coach Aragones whose motivation tool for one of his younger charges was to exhort to the player that he was better than that "black shit" -the remarkable Thierry Henry.

In truth it is anyones world cup. Germany are a great tournament playing nation and will be formidable with home backing but the Italians cannot be underestimated. Will we have a semi-final like the great one of 1970 when Italy triumphed 4-3 against the Beckenbaur led Germans. The 'Kaiser' played one armed that match. Portugal should also not be overlooked inspite of their poor performance yesterday because they'll have Deco and Constatina (?) back.

My tip? Germany v France would be the dream final. You can see the cliches from a mile Teutonic Technic versus French Flair, Blitzkeig etc, etc

07-09-2006, 03:54 AM
Looking forward to the France v Italy final today. I guess my day is going to be built around the event.

Italy won a great victory over Germany in the semi-finals, a game some are ranking among the best in world cup history. I'm not sure that it ranks along West Germany v France (1982), West Germany v Italy (1970), Italy v Brazil (1982) or France v Brazil (1986), but it will be justifiably remembered.

The France v Portugal semi-final wasn't as exciting as the French encounters with Spain and Brazil but it was satisfying to see the great Zidane and his 'ageing' cohorts dispatch the threatrically obnoxious cheaters from the Iberian peninsula. Truly appalling to see professionals fall to the ground like they've been blasted by a shotgun in the hope of winning a 'free kick'.

As to the final, my head says Italy but my heart wants France to triumph.

The Italians are quite formidable -as always in defence and midfield but now they've discovered a goal scorer in Toni -if he scores and wins it for them today, he'll be raised on a pedestal like Paolo Rossi and Toto Schillaci were in previous times.

The match fixing scandal will be alleviated if they win -I think I heard that Milan and Juventus may escape relegation if the national team wins! Yo have to say that football scandals in Italy merely reflect the sort of underhanded stuff that goes on in politics (former prime minister Berlusconi -that outlandish oligarch- is to stand trial for corruption) and society.

Winning would unite the fractuous tendencies of the society which is divided between prosperous north and poorer south -temporarily at least. You cannot overestimate what sport can achieve but a victory may have more profoundly bearing consequences for the Italians than the French for whom great changes were predicted after their 1998 victory only to be unmasked as a mirage given the continued social and economic inertia and divisions in the society represented by the continued popularity of the far right leader Jean Marie Le Pen and the recent riots.

Anyhow, I'm hoping for a good match -an open, high scoring match although with the strength of both defences, I won't be holding my breath for this to come to pass.

07-09-2006, 05:27 AM
I'm not a soccer fan all the time, but I've really gotten into the World Cup. The passion, the energy, the high fitness levels, it really is quite extraordinary to watch. I've compiled a collection of World Cup goals on videotape that I watch over and over again. Hearing GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL calls on Univision, the team celebrations after soccer goals compared to the individual and selfish celebrations in American football, it's been good.

But the diving, lack of goal scoring, and blatantly bad refereeing are driving me nuts. This is the lowest scoring World Cup since 1990. Most of the teams are hesitant to attack and bring midfielders up or use two forwards. And the clutching of ankles after every tackle is just ridiculous. I would like to see more yellow cards given to players that dive. And while refereeing can be bad in all sports, the refereeing in some of the World Cup games has been downright criminal. Where does FIFA get these refs? Aren't they supposed to be the best?

I agree Ade that the Mexico-Argentina game was the best of the tournament. Rodriguez's goal is one of the best I've ever seen. It's almost as if he didn't even look. If that was a semifinal or final game, it might have been considered the greatest World Cup goal ever. The Germany-Italy game was well-played, but the last 20 minutes before extra time and the first overtime were downright boring and a lot of stalling was going on. Ballack was completely spent. Italy finally began to push more in the second overtime and the winning goal was a thing of beauty.

I'm rooting for Zidane today, so although I'm not a fan of the French, I hope they win. With the defensive styles of these teams (Italy has allowed only an own goal this whole tournament and France has allowed only two goals), I would be shocked to see more than 1 goal in this game. But please, please, please I pray the game does not go to a shootout!!


07-10-2006, 04:52 PM
Well, Deepak, are you still a fan of Zidane'?

We are still waiting to find ot the reason why he 'billy goated' Materazzi of Italy? The feeling is that Zidane, of berber-Algerian origin must have been seriously slighted to have reacted in such a manner. Did the Italian abuse Zidane's wife or mother? Did he issue a racial slur? There is a rumour that he might have referred to Zizou as a 'terrorist'; this after twisting one of Zizou's nipples!

Of course Zidane disgraced himself but many are just as disgusted at Materazzi, who may feel must have uttered an unspeakable provocation.

It may be a secret which Zidane keeps for years. Meanwhile to pre-empt any specualtion that he may be racist, information circulates that Materazzi's best friend is Obafemi Martins, the Nigerian forward at Inter Milan.

It's all rather remeniscent of the spat (or should I say 'spit') between Frank Rikyaard (Netherlands) and Rudi Voller (Germany). Rikyaard is as gentlemanly a person as you could hope to find (Zidane has lost his temper in the past and stamped or butted players who provoked him) spat at Voller several times. Sending one last wad into Voller's elaborate perm as both men were sent off in 1990. The Dutch wanted to believe that it must have been a racial slur, but as far as I know, what caused those extraordinary scenes is still a mystery.

As I said in my pre-final preview, my head said Italy would win but my heart wanted France to win. It was not the greatest match but was absorbing because it was full of incident culminating in the penalty shoot-out.

The result confirms that the world cup rotates between a select group of footballing powers, namely, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina. Only Uruguay have fallen from that pedestal and the English; well the English only have 1966 on home soil to win. France's win and second final are in recent history together with a European championship victory in 2000 so they rank above the English.

You are right about the low scoring nature of the tournament. If I'm correct, the group stages had an OK average -it is getting to the knockout stages that we see the low scores.

Anyway, I enjoyed it like all world cups, the only regret is not seeing a truly great team win it or play in it.

07-10-2006, 05:23 PM
Tried watching soccer for essentially the first time ever for this World Cup. I was disgusted by how much every player hams up injuries in an effort to draw a penalty. Akin to what the gals of the NBA do to draw a foul, only soccer players are definitely more melodramatic.

07-10-2006, 06:28 PM
Todd is right about the histrionics - they do get over the top. Did anyone notice that the one team that didn't do that was the British squad. They just play without any theatrics.

One of the main reasons Americans don't get into soccer is the scoring. The smartest thing the NFL ever did was awarding 6 points for a touchdown & one point for the PAT.

If they hadn't done that a lot of NFL games would be 2-1 or 3-2 point affairs.

By giving the 6 points for the TD it gives the ILLUSION of high scoring games. For instance if they only gave one point per TD a team could score four TD's & have only 4 points instead of 28. The NFL never would have become as popular if they hadn't adapted the 6 pts. per td rule.

It's psychological. I bet if soccer had adapted something like that early on it would be much more popular in the U.S.


07-10-2006, 07:31 PM
In the Scotish league they often achieve NFL-like scorelines without having to resort to that sort of nonsense, but they still only get half a dozen people watching the games.

07-10-2006, 08:28 PM
Soccer does just fine without the US. It's the most popular sport on earth. The last thing anyone is going to do is mess with the game just to get a couple hundred thousand fickle NASCAR fans to tune in.

07-10-2006, 09:05 PM
While I wish there was a viable way to increase scoring,
I believe that well-played, hard-fought soccer games are
very compelling. I like watching the surprising Germans
more than any other team in the 2006 WC. They played
a very attractive and an effective brand of soccer
throughout the tournament.

- Chuck Johnston

07-11-2006, 02:00 AM
As the eternal naysayer, I have to point out that my feelings about the whole "greatest event in the world" coincided very closely with Jim Rome's on his ESPN program today: "THIS is what you folks waited four years to see? 700 games scoring all of 20 points, with the ultimate championship being decided by penalty kicks? By which goalie guessed right more than his opponent? Why not just forget next year's NBA finals and flip a coin to choose a winner?"

What amazes me most is not why the native born U.S. citizen has failed to hug "football" to his bosom (there are plenty of immigrant kids kicking around that spotted orb in parks and school yards nowadays), but why this apathy has any impact whatsoever on the rest of the world. You guys just can't stand the fact that our usual response is a casual "Who cares?" shrug. Why is that? Nobody else but the Japanese and Cubans dig baseball, but we don't get all butt-clinched over that, do we? And who else ever watches real -- excuse me, American football? A couple of Canadians?

Rue our ignorance if you must, but how about allowing us a little downtime for the next four years . . . before the Big Party restarts and some midget from Bumfuzzled, Croatia wins "the biggest thing in recorded human history" by tripping and accidentally nose-knocking that silly ball into that silly goal in hour eleven of "sudden death" overtime? Just a request. PeteLeo.

07-11-2006, 06:33 AM
The obvious reason why it would be nice if the US public took more interest in football is money. You've got lots of it.

Another reason is that, apart from Australia, America seems to be more fanatical about watching sport than any other country. It's interesting that these are possibly the two biggest countries in which football isn't one of the top one or two sports.

07-11-2006, 07:14 AM
I've always thought soccer is so popular everywhere else because it's so cheap to play - all you need is something round to kick at to get some semblance of a soccer game going.

Five years ago I spent a month in Egypt, where poverty is truly sickening in many places, and a guy like me (6'4" and blond) brought the beggars out of the woodwork everywhere I went. But another thing I saw everywhere I went was soccer - kids, adults, everywhere there was a pick-up game going. People are always more interested in sports they participate in themselves.

In North America, sports is purely about money anymore, almost never the love of a game. To outfit your kid to play hockey, you have to drop about $500 on equipment and another few hundred for the league fees. Baseball fees for kids are off the charts, ditto lacrosse. Everyone is squeezing you for money. And the athletes themselves in the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL are a bunch of coddled, greedy crybabies. Guys leaving a team that developed them because the $8 million a year can be topped elsewhere. It makes me sick.

When Gordie Howe signed with the Red Wings was back in the 40s his signing bonus was a team jacket. Until the 1970s the Thurman Munson ideology ("I'm just happy to be here") was the prevalent theme for professional athletes. It's a different world now, and it's turned me off of salaried sports almost completely. While I'm no soccer fan (I nearly started a brawl once in a pub when I kept calling it "kick-ball"), these folks that are all about the game, rather than the money, may have one up on North Americans. A lot purer love of their sport.

07-11-2006, 09:49 AM
Pete: But Jim Rome is a well-known asshole.

The diving and whining are problems, but there is a hell of a lot more skill involved in heading a corner kick into a tiny sliver of goal or artfully bending a direct kick around a wall of players than in watching tubby Shaq jump a couple feet in the air and dunk a basketball. At its best, soccer is a beautiful game and the WC is the only event of its kind that brings the whole world together. That alone makes it worthwhile.

Soccer has not caught on in America because the average American dolt sports fan, who spent yesterday eyes glued to the Home Run Derby, has the attention span of a fruit fly and can't invest the time to watch the flow of a game develop. Same reason ice hockey is floundering in the US. Same reason non-KO punchers are rarely known outside their own families. If there isn't a boo-yah moment (HR, car wreck, injury-inducing hit) at least once every ten minutes, we nod off like we've got sleeping sickness.

07-11-2006, 01:47 PM
And this should bother the rest of the world, why?
I'd rather muck sewage out of standing water than sit through curling, Sumo, or cricket, but I don't begrudge those who enjoy those "sports." Don't hate me because I'm beautiful -- uh, I mean, don't hate me because I think soccer sucks. PeteLeo.

07-11-2006, 03:12 PM
I'd like to talk about why we don't like soccer. It isn't our fault. Not this time.

And all of you Americans that want to apologize for the rest of us for how embarrassing we are we remember you. You were the kid that tattled on everyone. In college, you took to reading obscure authors and carrying a belief system that was incongruous to everyone else to make yourself feel smarter and you patronized everyone at parties by drinking odd drinks no one else drank when you weren't complaining about what the conservatives were doing to America and how you were going to move to Guatemala.

the rest of us understand it is less important to appear to be open-minded than it is to arrive at your own principles. We don't pander to soccer people as if by doing so we appear less embarassing. WE decide what is good or not. That is the why the world looks to snip and snipe at us. Soccer is being used as a vehicle. Don't be fooled by why we half-ass it.

Soccer is not unpopular here because we are idiots. No. It is not popular for the same reason we don't eat as much goats here as in other parts of the world: variety, choice and good old fashion "this stinks". Americans can spot something that sucks from a mile away and even if we are wrong we rarely change our minds about it. In fact, most things that we do like we quickly don't like anymore...or as much anyway. This dismissiveness angers the rest of the world because the rest of the world has long had the corner on dismissive, snooty, aloof behavior.

I'd like to see me go through life saying to everyone who doesn't like me or get me that it is because they have some impairment. The next time my fiancee tells me she hates the Simpsons I'll tell her it's because she doesn't understand it. If she, like me, knew how good it was, she'd like it. Since she doesn't, I can only feel bad for her. The UN is good at things like this.

The average dolt American sports fan..is that really someone in particular? Seems a bit murky to me. I get people not liking America. After all we have more food than anyone else and weapons and money. you rarely hear anyone who doesn't like America talk about anything good about it. But one of the good things is we don't like soccer.

When one speaks of American dolts, they really mean the average human who has a vast array of various sports of which to choose from for his entertainment. Sometimes Canadians count in this reckoning too, but they like to play both sides of the fence. Anyway, average american dolt means translated from the Euro an average person in a nation where arm wrestling is NOT the "other" most popular sport..where entire weeks off to go sleep under a vine is not an option..plus about 12 cents..milipedes or something metric.

The average person who, when given a choice of sports... sports that incidentally consist of more than land and a ball.. decide to follow the ones that are not mind-numbing? Remember when Joe Namath threw a ball through a tire swing? He used his hands. As Americans, we like hands. They are what makes us as human beings unique. We celebrate being a nation that made it on its own thanks to our hands. The notion of a game where your hands are not able to be used is silly to us.

Americans also have to hear about how hard soccer is to play. How it is gruelling and tough. We don't doubt it. Other things gruelling and tough include tarring a driveway, writing a letter if you are a man, playing the children's game 'telephone' with only 3 people for an hour, as well as shopping with any female over the age of 10 and talking about what other people do for a living at a holiday gathering or party.

As soon as you try to sell us on it, we know you are aware of why we don't like it, and we feel justified. Belittling us, aside from being the national past-time of virtually every country that requires we do the things they dislike, is juvenille behavior however.

I watched some of the World Cup and one of the things I found interesting was a parallel to our sport of Baseball, leased out currently to the Japanese: you can sit and drink and pay attention or not and enjoy yourself if you are there.

Enjoy yourself for the rest of the world means often brawling. For shame! Especially you Europeans. I hate to lump you all together but shouldn't a sub-continent built on affectation and grandiosity and kings and all be better behaved?

By the average dolt American Sports Fan I think you simply mean: groomed person with the correct sporting priorities. And you're jealous. We also don't get into watching people at the DMV. If soccer is so great, and we don't like it..be happy. Who wants us around anyway? I'd be happy if we agreed, as a planet, to exclude the USA from the World Cup and that soccer never be spoken of again.

Most of the world loves soccer. Popularity makes right then. I recall Hootie and the Blowfish being extremely popular.

Not liking soccer shouldn't breed such aggressive name-calling behavior! I would hate to think what might be thought of us here if we also came clean about mimes. A lot of us Americans used to like rolling a wheel down the street with a stick. Until 'toys' were invented.

What bothers the soccer fans about us who don't like it (apparently covered by American Sport Fans) is the appearance we are be contrarian. Rest assured we are not. As for not being able to comprehend the game, let us not forget we as a nation number many who spend many hours a week changing the oil in cars made somewhere else.

And for the bad rap we as a nation get: You don't see us going around saying anyone who likes Techno, doesn't like KFC, has frosted hair or is named "Claudio" are dolts. Do you?

As for Hockey, I know many people who love the game. Love it live. Love to play it. It is hard to watch on TV for spouses and wives because the puck is small and no one likes wacthing and explaining.

In fact quit trying to compare soccer to Hockey. Hockey's decline is poor marketing, poor salary strucutre and the problem of currency and TV. And most of us, incidentally, don't consider the home run derby a reason to riot..those who watch it usually watch it for the same reason we watch anything: it's on TV. So let's not compare having it on TV to soccer and it's fans. Must you always insult to try to smooth failure to win our approval?

Now, leave us alone for not likeing Soccer..and stop playing basketball...and learn why there is more action in the average minute of baseball than in football (American with the helmets that is), and why betting makes sports popular.

We American sports fans are, like our nation, a humble bunch. Notice how we allowed your World Cup to be played without our interference?

Finally please no one pray for Barbaro. He is a horse no matter what Ann Currie says. and if you have time to pray for a horse, you hvae wasted time praying for a person. Speaking of horse-racing.. I don't care about that either... and another thing

<white noise>

07-11-2006, 03:51 PM
Excellent rants, erm I mean, justifications from both PeteLeo and Sharkey. I appreciate their respective standpoints. One of my maxims in life is you can't force me to like anything just to go with the crowd.

If truth be told, then Gallicrow took the words right from my pen -the rest of the world regrets America's lack of interest in Football, less from their sense of failure at spreading the sport as it were through a proseltyzing missionary zeal as it is to their inability to muscle into the financial breadbasket the American economy offers.

Well, Todd did try and we must laud him for his effort and I agree with GorDoom that something psychological must be afoot due to the manner of scoring. There are some really tight Gridiron games in which there are few touchdowns but the game scores tend to make double figures.

The English play a fast,aggressive game which makes for having the most exciting football league in the world often at the expense of the overall development of individual skill. It is true to say that the playacting viewed with disdain by the English as a 'continental (European mainland) problem' is largely correct.

Much of this is essentially cultural. Our tastes in so many things particularly the sports we like tend to remain entrenched for the rest of our lives.....

07-11-2006, 03:51 PM
pete,i don't think anyone does actually care that America(or any other country)does not like or have football as it's number one sport.

It's one of those topics that only comes up on Internet forums for banter and is trundled out by hack writers on the eve of every world cup.

In fact most football fans i would wager don't even care about football itself in any of the other major leagues outwith their own.Many only follow a single club and only the hardcore keep up with sport as a whole.

Pondering about why x country doesn't care for football just doesn't happen..in Britain anyway.I'd be very surprised if it was any different for any other country.

On an unrelated note....zidane is the most overrated player i have seen in 30 odd years of watching the sport.

07-11-2006, 04:08 PM
Now all these wusses are going to try to censure the Italians for saying mean things to anger Zidane. If you ask me Zidane = Zidunce.

07-11-2006, 04:19 PM
"Zidane"? The chest-butter? I thought his name was "Sardine"? Oh well, I guess I just ain't got no couths. PeteLeo.

07-11-2006, 05:12 PM
Soccer has not caught on in the US for one simple reason: Americans have the attention spans of fruit flies. If something isn't raising a big hoo-ha for the highlight reels (car crashes, home runs, highlight-reel hits) every ten minutes, people tune out. US fans can't follow a flow sport like soccer or hockey. It requires people to sit still and actually pay attention. Now, the Tivo will shrink the attention span even more for the next generation, for whom the National Getting-Hit-In-The-Head-Till-You-Bleed League may very well be the biggest money-maker.

07-11-2006, 05:53 PM
Nah. Americans are fine. Our attention spans are terrific. However, just as I would look at a person transfixed trying to actually see the wind a bit askance, so too am I with soccer-defender. The problem is not with the audience. It is with the product for the audience. Americans don't sleep in drawers like is ocassioned in Japanese hotels...but that doesn't make the lack of embracing such a product of small discomfort tolerance. Rather, we don't need to do it.

We used all of our civic pride up in the other sports. Sports with hands.

Soccer is simply losing in the free-marketplace of sports. It's not our fault. Really. Our attention spans are geared to normal pace. The sport fails US. We are not unworthy. It is the sport that has not found favor. And that's ok. In the marektplace...soccer is losing.. in America, with no demagoguery, dogma, and with variety..it fails.

Where else is a variety of professional and amateur sports played to the degree of America? I am sure someone will duct-tape an answer to defy that but I stand firm.

Lacrosse is a regional game. I like it very much. I could say it isn't big anywhere else because no one knows about it...or I could claim the rest of the nation, and the world is not geared towards 'flanking-burstable' sports. Is it a regional game because the world has an aversion to stick games? To Native-American inspired activities?

Hurling is about as violent a sport as there is. I do not see it sweeping America.

I for one can draw a disticntion between hockey and soccer. In fact I don't know anyone who feels they are similar save for low scores. I can follow hockey just fine. Hockey is fast, intriguing and has weird things like equipment which prevents it from appearing to be an activity arbitrarily placed within an arena.

Flow sports. Flow is obviously another, less direct way of saying 'simple' or 'pedantic'? Soccer is on its own island. It is not hockey. Hockey is great. People that think hockey stinks like it compared to soccer. Everyone likes to think they have a reason about why soccer hasn't caught on but all fail to address the fact that perhaps it isn't worth it to us on its own merits.

If soccer had random isolated violence, or attention grabbers, it would still be unpopular with TV viewers. You don't see people tuning in to watch the NYC subway crowds,..muggings and all do you? TV cameras are not usually tuned in on watching a kid trying to catch a grasshopper, turning this way and that..unable to secure it.

American sport fans' attentions are actually what should be the world standard. The flies are actually circling around the soccer match. I think it is great the world loves it. I think it is fine we don't. Why we don't really doesn't have much to do with attention spans. We just don't care and we don't think it's worth watching.

We have so much variety, we need to stay on top of it all. Soccer just isn't fitting in.

07-11-2006, 06:33 PM
Look gentlemen, at the end of the day, more Football is played within the borders of the USA at youth, senior and professional level than Gridiron is played in the rest of the world combined. I guess that proves conclusively which is the more popular sport.

If some don't like it fine.

One little question though. If there is a tendency for Americans to be dismissive of sports which do not involve the use of hands, then why in the hell do they style it 'football' when the foot is hardly used???

Seems to me that a better name would be 'Handball' and if that is already patented, why not call it 'American Handball' or 'Throw Ball'?

07-11-2006, 08:41 PM
check my "tongue in cheek" in the title of my first post.

The last I will say on this popularity matter is that more people in the USA and the world on a daily basis don't drive BMW's than do. I am not sure that means given the choice they wouldn't trade their civic in for one if the cost was the same.

Also, few people in the USA actually drive a Stock Car. Still, it (NASCAR) SEEMS quite popular.

I think everyone should play soccer. It's fun. It's cheap. Good workout. I don't expect playing it to equal people wanting to watch it.

Football is often called "Tackle Football" which I like as a name actually.

07-11-2006, 09:24 PM
In North America we call football... football.... because it is played with a football.

How much simpler can it be than that. Euro football is played with a soccer ball. Never made any sense to me.

Both sides of the fence Sharks? Can't get a post in without getting your little anti-Canuck shots in, can you? Well I've been to New York state many times. You are all rude.

And lacrosse isn't internationally popular? Is this true? It can't be. It has everything - high action, high scoring, legal cross-checking and brawls. It is the epitome of why sports are fun!

07-11-2006, 09:27 PM
No anti-Canuck shot! There was no shot! It was all for you!!!! Because you get it! And I know you are burning to convert us to metric road-signs.

Anyway, I would really like to enjoy Soccer. I suppose it is all what you grow up with.

My HS was about the only one in the area without a lacrosse team. We did win state soccer titles. We as in the school. Not me. I rna track. Now THAT was exciting.

Are we really rude? I apologize for all of them who are.

07-11-2006, 09:35 PM
I get it Sharksman.

I don't like soccer. I don't want to like soccer. My oldest wants to play soccer. I will allow this.

And when I was growing up we were just changing from imperial to metric. I am of the last generation that knows both systems equally well. I can convert pounds to kilograms in my head. I can convert mph to kph the same way. Ditto ounces to milliliters and feet/inches/yards to centimeters and meters.

But don't ask me what the greenback is worth today. I wish you guys would stop fucking around and figure out what your interest rates should be doing (normally this wouldn't bother me, but I need to import some thermal printers, and I'm trying to get my timing right....).

And not all New Yorkers are rude. One even failed to tell me to go fuck myself when asking for directions. Only told me to go beck where I came from and take my Ontario plates with me.

She was such a nice old lady.

07-12-2006, 02:22 AM

07-12-2006, 09:47 AM
Lacrosse isn't popular because it requires fans to follow the action up and down a field where no scoring is taking place.

I can think of one pretty big way that low-scoring hockey and soccer are similar. Negligible ratings. Nobody watches. Know what kind of rights fee the NHL was offered by TV networks for its games? $0. Yup. WNBA gets more viewers.

If you doubt that the US sports world is being swallowed up by a highlight-reel mentality, just ask yourself why the Slam-Dunk Contest and Home Run Derby are getting to be as popular as the respective All-Star games?

07-12-2006, 11:26 AM
No scoring in lacrosse DC? I go to a lot of pro games and the usual scores are about 12-10. Sometimes you see teams score over 20 goals. It a tremendously high-scoring game.

07-12-2006, 02:40 PM

Brazil's World Cup winning team of 1970. Back row from left: Carlos Alberto, Felix, Piazza, Brito, Clodoaldo and Everaldo. Front row from left: Jairzinho, Gerson, Tostao, Pelé and Rivelino.

07-12-2006, 02:56 PM

Edson Arantes Do Nascimento and Manuel Francisco Dos Dantos. Pele and Garrincha.

Two legends, Two Immortals.

If 1958 belonged to Pele, then 1962 was Garrincha's world cup. Brazil never lost a match when both played together. An astounding fact....

07-12-2006, 03:19 PM

Diego Maradona kisses the world cup as captain of the victorious Argentinian team of 1986.


Johan Cryuff of the Netherlands. Only Pele and Maradona rank higher than him in my humble opinion.


A famous moment of sheer skill as Cruyff begins a twisting movement which drags the ball away from his decieved and soon to be forlorn opponent.

Like Hungary in 1954 and Brazil in 1982, the best team of the 1974 tournament failed to lift the trophy. And why did Cruyff fail to play in the next world cup in 1978? Was he threatened by right wing elements in the Argentinian junta? Did he decline to go for political reasons? Cruyff's association with Barcelona FC, the voice of the Catalan people during the post-civil war regime of Franco would not have endeared him to Phalangists and Fascists.

07-13-2006, 03:37 PM
Italy's Marco Tardelli about to embark on his famous celebration after scoring against West Germany in the 1982 final.


07-13-2006, 03:44 PM
Nigeria's Rashidi Yekini after scoring the first in the 3-0 victory of Bulgaria in 1994


07-13-2006, 03:53 PM
Great pics, Ade! Really enjoyed them.


07-14-2006, 02:41 AM
Ade, I echo that. Great pics!

Yes, I lost a lot of respect for Zidane. No matter what Matarazzi said, Zidane put the French in a bad spot. Players trash talk, and if they know they can get under someone's skin, and Zidane is known to have a temper, they use that fact against the player. Plus, Zidane was probably disappointed that he missed the header about 5-10 minutes earlier that the Argentine goalie made a lovely save on. If Zidane had gotten tossed in the first half, Italy might have scored the goal and Zidane would have been the poster child for the defeat. I remember the anger British fans had for Beckham when he got himself thrown out of a medal round game against Argentina and England lost on penalty kicks and Zidane would have been blamed as well by his homeland fans.

That said, I don't know why this thread has become more about soccer bashing. As an Indian, I enjoy cricket and Americans could care less about that sport as well. So what? Every country has its pride and its favorites. Australia is a huge rugby nation and they have the #1 cricket team, India, Pakistan, West Indies, etc are obsessed with cricket, Japan loves its sumo wrestlers, Canadians worship hockey, Kenyans are into distance running, France loves cycling, Thais enjoy Muay-Thai fighting. The world is different, and they gravitate to different sports. Just let it be as it is. We don't need to make excuses as to why the US doesn't embrace soccer. That said, it is fair to point out that the highest attended World Cup in terms of average attendance was the 1994 World Cup held in the good ole USA.

BTW, the Cricket World Cup takes place in 2007. I wonder if the same people on this board who were willing to sample the Soccer World Cup without knowing much about the sport will do the same for cricket.


07-14-2006, 02:46 AM
Nigeria's Rashidi Yekini after scoring the first in the 3-0 victory of Bulgaria in 1994


Ade, real quick I remember taping this goal and it is somewhere in my videotape collection. Was this the goal where the Nigerian was onside, one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and juked him. I remember Andreas Cantor going crazy after that goal and the player did a nice dance move after scoring. Or was this the goal where the cross acroos the goal mouth beat the goalkeeper and the Nigerian player followed it into the net? I was rooting big-time for Nigeria in the 1994 World Cup and in general I love the free-flowing style of the African soccer game. The Nigerian team was so good, whatever happened to them?


07-14-2006, 01:33 PM
Thank you GorDoom and Deepak. My pleasure.

Yes, Deepak, he disgraced himself. Shouldn't have allowed himself to fall into Materazzi's wind-up trap. You're right about the aftermath of Beckham's run in with the Argentine Diego Simeone in he 1998 tournament. It's part of the English tradition to scapegoat players who let down the team (England played 10 against 11 men for most of the match -which went to extra-time.) Zidane's position appears to be different as the French seem to love him even more.

"Soccer" bashing? Well, I was informed that it was tongue-in-cheek banter so I guess one does not take it as a curmudgeonly reactionary like conversation in the mould of a Pa Steptoe or Archie Bunker. Hell, I could careless!

That's why I'm taking the opportunity to post some vintage pictures which remind us all of what Pele appropriately defined as "The Beautiful Game."

You're right about cricket and other sports which dominate the psyche of different nations. I mean the Scots could careless about cricket but also, there are many Englishmen or Spaniards who will be very quick to correct your bearings if you take it for granted that they are all Football 'nutters'. They may love their Rugby or cycling too much!

About cricket, I'm on and off with it but like Rugby Union I do get excited when there is a battle of nations. In recent years I think the Australians and at certain points, the Pakistanis have been the best in the world since the decline of the West Indies. (I know that the Indians are usually unbeatable when you play them at home -and they just broke a long spell of not winning a test series against the West Indians on West Indian soil.)

Some attribute the decline of the West Indies to the Americanisation of their sports culture -specifically the influence of BasketBall. Others disagree and simply believe that the once formidable scouting and coaching system declined. My mum's from the Caribbean, so even though I was never heavily in to cricket, it was always exciting seeing the likes of Viv Richards, Malcolm
Marshall, Clive Lloyd et al strech out the period of Test domination ushered in during the era of Sir Garfield Sobers.

Are you a cricket historian? If so here's a question: Which team do you think is the greatest ever; the West Indies side of the 1970s/1980s or the Australian side of the 1990s?


I don't think you tend to have a cricket v baseball argument like you have Football v GridIron. There are Rugby league and union supporters who do follow GridIron.

07-14-2006, 01:52 PM
Ade, real quick I remember taping this goal and it is somewhere in my videotape collection. Was this the goal where the Nigerian was onside, one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and juked him. I remember Andreas Cantor going crazy after that goal and the player did a nice dance move after scoring. Or was this the goal where the cross acroos the goal mouth beat the goalkeeper and the Nigerian player followed it into the net? I was rooting big-time for Nigeria in the 1994 World Cup and in general I love the free-flowing style of the African soccer game. The Nigerian team was so good, whatever happened to them?


Deepak, the pictured goal was a mere tap in from a cross which came from the right wing. There were two other Nigerian strikers who also appeared to have been in a position to score from that very cross -they were practically queueing up to slot it in.

The goal you are talking about was I think the second goal of the match and the scorer was Daniel Amokatchi.

What's happened to Nigeria? They 'allowed' Angola to qualify at their expense. Much of the fault appears to lie with the Administrative body and the tactics and selection by the (now sacked) Nigerian coach of the time.

Nigeria went out of the 1998 finals owing to overconfidence. I don't know if you watched the exciting battle with Spain which Nigeria won 3-2. However, they cockily assumed Denmark would be a walkover before they faced Brazil in the quarter finals. Talk about miscalculations and counting your chickens before they're hatched! The Danes roasted them 4-1. In 2002, you may recall that they were in the so-called group of death with Sweden, England and Argentina and they missed out.

It's all about building the infrastructure, removing political interference from Nigerian football administration and nurturing talent at home. It is only when that is achieved that Nigeria -with its enourmous human resources will become a permanently established footballing power.

Watch out for John Mikkel Obi who has now joined Chelsea after a big dispute between Chelsea and Manchester United over which one of them had signed him from a Norwegian club. He was impressive for Nigeria in this year's African Nations Cup and looks like being a massive star of the future. With young guys like him and Obafemi Martins, the future could indeed be rosy.

07-14-2006, 02:12 PM

The first goal of Geoff Hurst during extra time of the 1966 final which made the score 3-2 to England is one of the most enduring world cup controversies. Did that ball actually cross the line? Nobody knows for sure (although I seem to recall a programme some years ago which utilised modern technology and appeared to conclude that the whole of the ball did NOT cross the line.) Not even the most vehement English supporter is not convinced beyond doubt but they always pay homage to the 'Russian' linesman who confirmed it as a goal.

The linesman was in fact an Azerbaijani, then part of the Soviet Union. If he recieved a yearly stipend (in pounds sterling currency) in a brown envelope until his death, I would not be surprised.....

07-14-2006, 02:43 PM

The Dutch team of 1974 were the purveyors of what was termed 'Total Football;' that is the ability of team members to slip into and out of different positions while retaining the shape of the team's formation.

With their generally shoulder length hairstyles which was complemented by beads and beards, they looked more like a freewheeling hippie commune than an international level team of sportsmen. Legends like Johan Cruyff, Johnny Rep, Johan Neeskens, Aarie Haan and Robbie Rensenbrink were culled mainly from Ajax Amsterdam and Rotterdam's Feyernood, although Rensenbrink played for Belgian club Anderlecht.

They defeated Argentina and Brazil. They dazzled in contrast to the West Germans who started the tournament badly and were in disarray when East Germany beat them 1-0 in the group stage.

On the eve of the final, rumours, believed to have been planted by German sources alleged that Dutch camp was so relaxed that the players were observed 'entertaining a bevy of topless beauties by their hotel swimming pool.'

Not surprisingly, wives such as Mrs. Johan Cruyff were placing frantic calls to their partners. It appeared not to work because the Dutch started the Final in masterful fashion forcing their opponents to concede a penalty in the first minute and scoring from the ensuing spot kick. Amazingly, not a SINGLE German player got a touch of the ball until Germany's goalkeeper, Sepp maier picked the ball out of the net!!

However, the German machine responded. Although at first outplayed, they contained the Dutch onslaught and won a dubious penalty which they converted. Germany won 2-1 from a Gerd Muller shot. As in 1954, the Germans had beaten the 'best' team of the competition to win the cup.

07-14-2006, 03:17 PM

Brazil, after losing the cup in 1974, came to Argentina in 1978 looking formidable but without the flair with which they are traditionally associated. Under an Anglophile coach, Claudio Coutinho, they played a more rugged and physical European style game. Roberto Rivelino was still around but the star was expected to be Zico who was either injured or failed to perform. A center forward called Reinaldo could have been a massive star but at the time, as indeed throughout his short career, was injured.

Argentina were under pressure to perform, not only from fans and the nation but from the newly installed military dictatorship led by General Videla. Brazil, if I remember correctly, were in a second round group with Argentina and Peru. They drew 0-0 with the Argentinians but beat Peru by a large scoreline. Argentina needed to beat Peru by at least 3 clear goals to qualify.

How would they achieve this? There are two theories although both may be true. One was to bribe the Peruvians or their goalkeeper (Quiroga) who was Argentinian by birth! (If I remember correctly). The other was that the Argentinian dictator himself visited the Argentinian dressing room. He did not issue any threats but the visit unnerved the players who interpreted it as a 'win-or-you-pay-the-consequences' silent threat.

Argentina won 6-0 and reached the final. The way someone put it, if Argentina had to score 8 goals to win, they would have done so.

Brazil, although undefeated, went home rather sourly.


There were a succession of BBC world cup documentaries in the run up to the competition. I missed the first half of the one dedicated to Argentina but someone informed me of a rather funny anecdote told by Mario Kempes, the top scorer of the tournament. Kempes, like many Argentinians was not unaffected by the reign of terror instituted by the junta in their urge to liquidate all forms of left wing opposition. I think one of his friends became one of the 'Los Deseparacidos' (The missing ones). During the celebrations after their world cup final victory over Holland, someone dared Kempes to feel his (Kempes's) 'balls' just before shaking hands with Videla at the obligatory presidential reception. I am told that the next part of the documentary depicted a picture of Kempes shaking hands with Videla with what appeared to be a secret betrayed by a certain look in his eyes........

07-14-2006, 04:06 PM

The rivalry between Argentina and England is often fraught with bitterness. This started in 1966 when host nation England narrowly defeated the South Americans by a single goal after the sending off Argentina's captain who had to be escorted off the field of play by a detatchment of police officers. Alf Ramsey, the English manager, famously referred to them as 'animals' and stopped one of his players from exchanging shirts with an Argentinian after the match. The Argentinians felt cheated by the sending off and were tremendously aggrieved by what they percieved as a racial slight.

When they met in 1986, the rivalry and bitterness had been excacerbated by the defeat of the Argentinian military in the battle for the Falkland Islands / Malvinas Islands. (There was a possibility that both teams would meet in the 1982 finals in Spain just after the war had ended!)

Diego Armando Maradona demonstrated his genius of skill and of deception in a matter of minutes through two goals.

The first should not have been a goal but the referee failed to spot Maradona's arm as the anatomical part which put the ball past the English keeper. He did not know for sure if he would get away with it, but he ran towards a corner flag and began celebrating. The linesman failed to see it and Argentina were awarded a goal.

It was reflected in Maradona's coment: "un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios" (a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God).

There is today little or no guilt by Maradona or Argentinian fans. To them, it was just desserts for the English 'oppressors' who had actually transplanted the game in Argentina much in the manner as they had done in Brazil.

There is an element of culture here. The ability to decieve an opponent or judges in any endeavour (tango competition or anything) by thinking they have witnessed something which in fact did not happen is something which is lauded -if you can get away with it!


Maradona's winning goal in which he swerved around half a dozen opponents before cooly slotting the ball in the English net is one of the most sublime pieces of play ever witnessed on a football pitch. The work of an undoubted genius.

07-14-2006, 08:42 PM
Thanks for the news on Nigeria. I don't remember specifics because I am only into soccer during the World Cup, but they had tremendous talent on that team and I guess they just got complacent and lost their hunger. Fat cat syndrome. But they were one of the faster teams I have seen, and they took lots of chances and got into the highest scoring games. Hopefully a semblance of that Nigeria team will be back in future World Cups.

For some reason, I could visualize those goals when I saw that picture of Yekini in the net. And I even remember Amokatchi now that you mentioned him and that was the goal I was thinking of.

I am not a cricket historian in any way (trying to even watch a match with the timing and college courses in the way is pretty hard here), but I do remember going to India as a kid, watching the West Indies, and thinking that Malcolm Marshall was going to bowl out India for a 100. I feared him as an Indian fan.
I will probably get more into cricket as we approach the World Cup, and I'm trying to put pressure on the Indian groups here on campus to buy the Whole tournament and show it in an auditorium to get the cricket and non-cricket fans involved (and selfishly, me as well!)


Deepak, the pictured goal was a mere tap in from a cross which came from the right wing. There were two other Nigerian strikers who also appeared to have been in a position to score from that very cross -they were practically queueing up to slot it in.

The goal you are talking about was I think the second goal of the match and the scorer was Daniel Amokatchi.

What's happened to Nigeria? They 'allowed' Angola to qualify at their expense. Much of the fault appears to lie with the Administrative body and the tactics and selection by the (now sacked) Nigerian coach of the time.

Nigeria went out of the 1998 finals owing to overconfidence. I don't know if you watched the exciting battle with Spain which Nigeria won 3-2. However, they cockily assumed Denmark would be a walkover before they faced Brazil in the quarter finals. Talk about miscalculations and counting your chickens before they're hatched! The Danes roasted them 4-1. In 2002, you may recall that they were in the so-called group of death with Sweden, England and Argentina and they missed out.

It's all about building the infrastructure, removing political interference from Nigerian football administration and nurturing talent at home. It is only when that is achieved that Nigeria -with its enourmous human resources will become a permanently established footballing power.

Watch out for John Mikkel Obi who has now joined Chelsea after a big dispute between Chelsea and Manchester United over which one of them had signed him from a Norwegian club. He was impressive for Nigeria in this year's African Nations Cup and looks like being a massive star of the future. With young guys like him and Obafemi Martins, the future could indeed be rosy.

07-14-2006, 10:59 PM
In the 1986 World Cup game between Argentina and England,
the English goalkeeper was Peter Shilton, who also was a
great player. In fairness to Argentina, they were the better
team on that day even if Diego Maradona's "Hand of God"
goal should have been disallowed. After all, Maradona's
second goal in the game was a classic.

- Chuck Johnston