by Daniel Greene
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
Determined to become a soccer fan with the onset of the 2014 World Cup, and appreciating the convenience of having the games played in western hemisphere time zones, I have immersed myself in the recent World Cup matches. After all, I had grown up in Germany, watching German and English soccer, and even joining my school team in playing against German schools. It was indeed fun, but I also played baseball and American football, which were more fun (for an American kid). The football experience was unlike anything that could have been gained in the US. I played cornerback for the Nuremberg Eagles, and our home field was the Nuremberg Soldiers’ Field where, 25 years earlier, Hitler was addressing his massive party rallies.
After my German experience, American soccer never seemed to have the aura or attraction of European soccer, so I had great hopes that watching the World Cup would bring that aura back. But after watching about 20 games, and being exposed intensely to the game, I’ve found that there are four very annoying aspects of soccer. Each one of these individually is a game killer; taken together, they make a farce of this sport. These issues are: 1) flopping; 2) shoddy officiating; 3) shoot outs; and, 4) soccer players can’t dance.
Soccer players are without a doubt among the best conditioned athletes in the world, allegedly running 8.1 kilometers per match. FIFA knows this as they install GPS trackers in the mohawks of every player. This mileage, however, does not apply to Lionel Messi, Argentine star. Focusing on him for one entire match, I determined that he walked 7.5 kilometers; jogged .5 kilometers; and ran for .1 kilometer, although that was only done in celebration after scoring a goal. And Messi scores frequently; he just makes his teammates do all the work.
Turkey hunters get more of a workout than some of these guys do, and I’ve never seen a turkey hunter flop.
Soccer is called the beautiful game in the same spirit that all babies are beautiful, particularly if they are yours. For those who are not closely attached to this ugly baby, watching a soccer game is 90 minutes of tedium, watching drama queens do their best (worst?) to win the game not on talent, but on histrionics.
The flops (fake injuries, to the uninitiated) are absurdities of play-acting meant to deceive the ref. A defender will make a malicious tackle on the attacker, then fall to the ground writhing in paroxysms of agony to convince the ref that it was the defender who was fouled. You will actually see these buffoons look around to verify that the ref is watching, and then go into their death throes. The topper is when the trainers bring out the magic water, spray the wounded part (always the shin, no matter if the player was contacted in the shoulder or hip), and then the crippled player is magically healed.
Flopping is supposed to be punished by a yellow card, but never is. Some say that the flopping is just as bad in the NBA, although that is considerable exaggeration. And the NBA is attempting to deal with floppers through fines, although the fines amount to pennies to these guys, even to the NBA’s poorest (and we’re talking Hillary Clinton poverty here; only a few million a year).
In the 2010 World Cup final of Spain vs Netherlands, the Netherlands’ Nigel de Jong delivered a kung fu kick to the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso in the most flagrant show of intentional malice seen in a World Cup match in decades, and de Jong was given only a yellow card. The flagrant, deliberate, and harmful nature of his action demanded a red card and expulsion. What kind of sport throws out the rules of play in the championship game of all championship games?
This year, Team Mexico (El Tri) has been abused flagrantly four times by officials. They’ve had two goals canceled by very wrong offside penalties; and two penalty kicks denied when Croatian defenders committed obvious hand balls in the penalty area, which the ref ignored. If El Tri can get past the referees in upcoming games, these guys will win it all.
Watch the goal-front action on any corner kick, and you’ll see more mugging and below the belt thuggery going on than in any NFL game dog pile. These actions are ignored by the ref, and make a farce of the game rules.
FIFA’s tie breaking formula of penalty kick shoot outs is as meaningful as deciding a tied football game with a series of 30 yard field goal attempts. There are 12 substitutes on every soccer team. Play them in as many overtimes as it takes to score a goal. Take goalies off the field in second overtimes. Otherwise, just toss a coin to determine the winner, or have the respective captains decide the game with 3 rounds of rock-paper-scissors.
Soccer Players Can’t Dance
Soccer players don’t know how to celebrate a goal. Soccer’s ubiquitous “fall on your knees and slide” routine was old 50 years ago. But then I saw last weekend why soccer players don’t try to dance. When Nigeria scored against Bosnia Herzogovina, their attempt at a team line dance was cringe-worthy and embarrassing. Watching these feeble celebrations makes me appreciate NY Giants Victor Cruz and his salsa dance (which he does in honor of his late grandmother, who taught him to dance salsa, and loved TD dances).
Futbol players, take some dancing lessons from American football players. Those guys play the truly “beautiful game”.
Image: Courtesy of: http://adm2372mtxyz.wikispaces.com/AR-+Evolution+of+the+Soccer+Cleat+3
As an army brat, Daniel Greene has lived around the world. He earned a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University, volunteered to serve in the US Army as a medical tech during Viet Nam, then began a varied career. He belongs to no political party, as he believes in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; the constitution; the bill of rights; a vitally strong America (both morally and militarily), and the need to actively defend those institutions, and no political party supports those tenets.