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On globalization, tactics, and the new football game

By cribeiro in Op-Ed
Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 07:20:30 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Love or hate it, football - or soccer for the Americans - is the biggest pro sport in the world. It has been practiced in almost every country for a long time, and has shown a remarkable stability in its rules since its creation as a sport, more than one century ago.

If the rules are stable, the game itself is still evolving. Football is now a global sport. Players from all around the world play on the world's top leagues. The World Cup is now a truly global event, smaller only than the Olympic Games, which is also a remarkable achievement for a single sport. The globalization of football has led to big changes on the dynamic of the game, changes which have made the game that we watch today a different spectacle to watch than the one from a few decades ago.


Football - or soccer, as Americans name the game - is the most well loved professional sport in the world. It's international association, FIFA, is the second largest sport body in the world - only the International Olympic Comitee has more members. It's also a sport governed by a strange mix of stability and change. The rules of the game changed very little since its inception more than one century ago. At the same time, the game dynamics changed a lot, to the point where the game that we watch today looks completely different game from one played 20 years ago.

There are several reasons for such big changes in the game. Over the last decades, physical conditionment has improved a lot; athletes are now able to run faster and longer. These advancements allowed new tactics to be adopted. Although the size of the field is still the same, as it is the number of players, the field looks much more crowded now than before. Tactics are strong focused on defense, and avoiding a goal is regarded by many as more important than to score your own. Although important, those changes were not surprising; some of them were already under way since the beginning of the development of the sport, and just picked up more importance as the game grew more competitive.

Besides these changes - related to the physical ability of the players - there were other changes, more visible in the past 20 years. Football is a global sport today. People watch games from other countries every weekend, and the biggest stars are recognized worldwide. Even in places as remote as a buddhist monastery on Tibet, it is possible to find young fans of the sport. Kids all around the world revers players as Ronaldo and David Beckham as pop stars. The following is not limited to the stars, though; the top teams (such as Real Madrid, Juventus or Manchester United) are also widely recognized, and you can see people wearing their shirts at almost any street of the world.

The globalization also brought a new dynamic to the football played worldwide. Coaches now have access to detailed information about every possible opponent. It goes beyond videotapes and scout numbers; in the World Cup, athletes that play on the same team - being from different nations - are sometimes on opposite sides in a match, and are able to give their coaches a personal account about the characteristics of the adversary.

Taking all these phenomena into account, one can see that the game of football played today is global in nature. There is no more the 'european style', or the 'brazilian style', or the 'asiatic style'. There is a single main style, focused on strong defense and counter attacks. What is left are some small variations on the style of the attack. This theory is defended by experts such as 1994 Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, and is based on some simple and pragmatic observations:

  • You can only score if you have the possession of the ball, therefore making imperative to take the ball from the opponent as soon as possible;
  • If you don't let the opponent play, he will not score;
  • The farthest away from your own goal you take the ball, the better; the opponent is kept away from your goal, and you are closer to theirs.
Parreira also observed that the main difference between the top teams and the others is still the quality of the players. The catch here is that it is not enough to have top level players; a team must work together as a fine piece of machinery. Even then, talented players are the ones who can make a difference, with a brilliant play that dismantle the opponent's defense. This ability is specially needed for attack, he observed, because the basics of defense are the same whatever the team. In the end, the difference between a winning team and the losers is that winners have someone who can decide the game in a single outstanding play.

The new dynamic of the football can be easily observed on the Korea/Japan World Cup; in fact, it is the ultimate reason for the fall of some of the favorite teams, such as Argentina and France. Those countries were studied by their opponents for a long time. Surprise, one of the elements of a winning campaign, was not on their side. On the other hand, some of the underdogs played at a surprisingly good level; not only they made the life of the favorites harder, but they have shown that good coaching does make a lot of difference, specially for defense. At the same time, never was the quality of the forward players so decisive as it is now. With well positioned defenses, the result of the game depends on the capacity to seize any opportunity you have to score.

Teams that have such decisive players - Brazil, German and Spain - have made it longer than other teams. Spain only lost its quarterfinals match against Korea due to direct interference from the referee - an unfortunate factor that still plays a major role on the result of the game. On the other hand, top teams such as France and Argentina retired early from the tournament, due to their inability to score on decisive moments. Even England felt this problem, as they lost to Brazil in a game where they had only two chances to score (as counted by the scout), and seized only one of these chances. The US team is another good example that comes to mind, as they had lots of chances to equal or even beat Germany, but missed all of them; in the end, they lost the game by the minimal count, as the Germany team scored in one of the few chances they had.

In the end, one can love or hate this new football game; however, it is clear that the game is here to stay. The chances for changes in the rules are minimal, and all evidence points that defenses will become even more important in times to come. In this game, the ability of forwarders and strikers to keep cool under pressure is essential. In a 90 minutes game, they may have only a single chance to score - and they'd better make it.

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Poll
Who is going to win the 2002 World Cup?
o Brazil 32%
o Germany 17%
o Korea 12%
o Turkey 2%
o I don't care 34%

Votes: 147
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On globalization, tactics, and the new football game | 94 comments (73 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
Off-topic question (4.66 / 3) (#3)
by acceleriter on Sat Jun 22, 2002 at 08:25:19 PM EST

Is soccer (to avoid confusion with the Madden '97 variety of football) infested with the same "vote taxpayer financing for a stadium or we're out of here" mentality as football in nations where it enjoys popularity?

If not, at least I'll be at worst apathetic to it rather than ardently opposed to the sports that exhibit that mindset in the U.S.

Not sure if I understood... here's my take. (5.00 / 4) (#9)
by cribeiro on Sat Jun 22, 2002 at 09:30:38 PM EST

If I understood what you said, you are opposed to taxpayer financing of stadiums. Well, most football stadiums worldwide are at least partly financed by the government. I really understand why many people are concerned about that, but still there are some reasons for such investment, at least for countries such as Brazil. Please keep in mind that I'm trying not to take sides here, but only to describe the situation.

First of all, the sport is really popular here. So, even if some people disagree with the decision to invest taxpayers money, a lot of people would support it. That's a democratic decision, isn't it?

There is also a strong historical component; although football is a relatively old sport, it's not nearly as 'pro' as the main American sports, due to the local culture. In Brazil, most teams are still modelled after the social clubs that originated them, and thus have simply no means to invest a huge amount of money to build a world-class stadium.

Finally, one has to remember that big stadiums are normally built for big events (such as Olympic Games or FIFA World Cup). These events generate a lot of income for the local economy. In this sense, by building the stadium, the government is in fact making a huge investment on the economy. While the argument is debatable in practice (nobody knows exactly how much money is spent, and how much money is made, making economic analysis impossible in practice), the theory seems fine.

[ Parent ]

Stadiums and taxes (4.00 / 3) (#13)
by acceleriter on Sat Jun 22, 2002 at 10:00:29 PM EST

You're right--I am generally opposed to taxpayer financing of sports stadiums. If the financing for the stadiums were passed by referendum, I would agree that it's a democratic decision--and in some cases, that's been the case here. But in other cases, tax money has been spent on stadiums without a direct vote of the people on the matter (yes, those responsible could be voted out if sufficient public outrage existed, but that's not the same as getting a direct vote of the people).

It does sound like sport in Brazil is composed of somewhat more sympathetic (dare I say sportsmanlike?) characters than we typically have in professional sports here.

Thanks for your thoughtful reply!

[ Parent ]

Sportmanship, amateur x pro sport character (5.00 / 2) (#15)
by cribeiro on Sat Jun 22, 2002 at 10:18:15 PM EST

It does sound like sport in Brazil is composed of somewhat more sympathetic (dare I say sportsmanlike?) characters than we typically have in professional sports here.

Well, there has been ups and downs on this particular aspect. In many senses, the structure of Brazilian football is still amauterish. As I said in my previous post, most teams were structured around social clubs, and still preserve this structure. From one side, this leads to a more spontaneus approach to the sport. A lot of people work with the team because they have a real commitment; some of them would say that the work for the love of it. On the other hand, some big teams are open to exploitation by opportunistic people. Lack of serious professionalization is a big problem here; there is no official balance report to verify the team accounts, as the law is still too shallow in this area.

One of the main advantages of the 'social club' approach is the stability of the teams. In the US, a team moves to another city whenever it gets a more advantageous proposal. In Brazil (and in fact, in most of the other countries), teams are local, and are loyal to their base community. So you will never see big teams move to other cities. Another important advantage is that it allows any community, even small ones, to have semi-professional teams, based around the social club of the community. This gives a chance to young players to show their skills, and to fight for a chance in the bigger teams. There is nothing like the high scholl - college - draft - pro sequence that is normal in the US, and that seems so artificial to me.

[ Parent ]

Taxpayer funding of stadiums (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by aphrael on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:10:04 PM EST

I don't object in principle to taxpayers funding stadiums. I do object when teams say, basically, "build us a new stadium or we'll go to city [x]".

[ Parent ]
Teams do not move to a new city - except in US (none / 0) (#94)
by cribeiro on Tue Jun 25, 2002 at 10:14:37 AM EST

Well, there may be other countries where it happens - Canada is a good candidate, but I don't know. But as far as I know, all the great football teams in the world belong to a community, and stay in the same city for a long time. They are even named after the city - for example, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United... In Brazil, team names are not usually connected to the city, but are otherwise so entrenched in the communitiy as to be impossible to even think about moving to a new city.

As for taxpayer-funding, it usually goes like this: the teams keep pushing for it for a long time, until they get it somehow, either through political pressure, or because there is a big tournament coming, and then the government decides it is time to build it. Also, in many cases, the stadium is owned by the municipality itself, which is also a good topic for discussion (whether a city must or not own a stadium). It is also common to have not funding, but donation of land, which can be acceptable depending on the conditions of the donation. The process may be tainted by corruption, but it is never like you point out for the US case.

[ Parent ]

effects of TV? (4.66 / 3) (#18)
by khallow on Sat Jun 22, 2002 at 10:48:40 PM EST

I wonder how modern sports have been changed by the "needs" of TV. I seem to recall that American football, baseball, and basketball had all accomodated changes so that the game would be more appealing to TV broadcasters. Don't recall any details though.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Not Changed Much (4.50 / 2) (#56)
by tlhf on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 02:17:00 PM EST

Although the rules of transfers, and the rules on contracts of players have been altered massively to cope with this globalisation, and EU worker's rights laws, there has been no in-game rule changes to help TV companies. The game is of two 45 minute halfs, which are screen uninterrupted. Adverts are usually placed before and after the game, and breaks at the start and end of half time. There are no 'time-outs', or ad breaks. The flow is continous, with the occasional pause when a player is injured.

This shows the difference in attitude between the US, which has ad-breaks introduced into it's sports, and the football* playing world.

tlhf
xxx
*Soccer Football

[ Parent ]
Match Scheduling. (none / 0) (#81)
by Ranieri on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:33:38 AM EST

Quite a number of major European leagues adapted the match schedule to the demands of a pay-TV audience. In Italy for example selected matches are aired on Saturday and Sunday evening.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]
But (none / 0) (#85)
by tlhf on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 01:29:58 PM EST

To be honest I didn't really think about that. There's probably quite a lot more changes such as that, except even subtle to notice. But the example you gave is more of an external rule change, rather than an 'in-game' change such as induced TV breaks. It doesn't make a massive difference to flow of the game, just the situation in which it's played.

tlhf
xxx

[ Parent ]
A serious question. (3.28 / 7) (#21)
by kitten on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 12:39:52 AM EST

Wouldn't it be a better world if people devoted even a fraction of the time, effort, and energy that they devote to soccer, to something even mildly useful or beneficial?

(This goes for all other sports, as well.)

Obviously I'm not a big sports person, but I do understand why people like it. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, either: Go, have fun, get excited, cheer your team on, do whatever.

But for fuck's sake, people: It's a game.

When all is said and done, so what? One country gets to say "Our team chased the ball around better than any other country's team." I'm sorry, I just don't see why this matters; it doesn't really change anything.

For a while around here, people were automatically voting down any stories related to September 11, because they were sick of hearing it. Well, I'm sick of hearing about soccer and the World Cup. I'm more sick of hearing about it than I am of hearing about the WTC - at least the Sep 11 issue has real ramifications that matter.

So, a nice -1 from me.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
the beautiful game (4.85 / 7) (#24)
by hoskoteinos on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 01:36:21 AM EST

Wouldn't it be a better world if people devoted even a fraction of the time, effort, and energy that they devote to soccer, to something even mildly useful or beneficial?
1) It's a release. It's fun. And fun is a useful and beneficial activity. Why don't we just make kids do "productive" work all day instead of playing? Because they'd be maladjusted robots otherwise. We need fun; we need creativity; we need release from everyday worries. Again, this is beneficial, and even necessary -- not just time-wasting.

2) The World Cup encourages a global camaraderie. Small countries, big countries, rich countries, poor countries -- doesn't matter: let's get together and kick a ball around; maybe something beautiful will happen.

3) It encourages national pride -- pride in a good sense. If we can't agree on which jerk to elect into office at least we can agree that we'd like to see our boys score some goals.

4) It's the beautiful game. A good footballer is an artist not just a jock who can kick a ball into a net. It's a wonder to behold sometimes.

[ Parent ]

You totally missed the point. (3.00 / 4) (#26)
by kitten on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 01:52:45 AM EST

It's a release. It's fun. And fun is a useful and beneficial activity. Why don't we just make kids do "productive" work all day instead of playing? Because they'd be maladjusted robots otherwise. We need fun;

Yeah, okay, that's why I encouraged people to have fun with it. I didn't say it should be abolished, now did I? Did I say we shouldn't ever have sports?

No. What I said was that we should have some fucking perspective. Yes, sports can be fun, but to sit and obsess over it as though the outcome affects anything? Spare me.

The World Cup encourages a global camaraderie. Small countries, big countries, rich countries, poor countries -- doesn't matter: let's get together and kick a ball around; maybe something beautiful will happen.

Beautiful like what?
You mean like riots, killings, and endless, endless bickering and petty arguments from people who don't understand that it's just a fucking game?

It encourages national pride -- pride in a good sense. If we can't agree on which jerk to elect into office at least we can agree that we'd like to see our boys score some goals.

And then when our team loses, we're going to bitch and bitch and bitch about it nonstop and form all sorts of wild conspiracies, or say we were disgraced and dishonored and whatever else.

A good footballer is an artist not just a jock who can kick a ball into a net. It's a wonder to behold sometimes.

Looks to me like it's just a jock who can kick a ball into a net. If you want beauty in physical accomplishments, go to the ballet.

mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
you optimist, you (5.00 / 4) (#31)
by hoskoteinos on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:35:18 AM EST

Yeah, okay, that's why I encouraged people to have fun with it. I didn't say it should be abolished, now did I? Did I say we shouldn't ever have sports?

You said it's not a bad thing, but also implied that it's neither useful nor beneficial. That's how I understood your post, at least. I obviously agree it's not a bad thing, but I also think it is both useful and beneficial.

No. What I said was that we should have some fucking perspective. Yes, sports can be fun, but to sit and obsess over it as though the outcome affects anything? Spare me.

One shouldn't obsess overmuch on anything, but there's nothing wrong with getting excited about a (usually) friendly competetion. Most of what I see surrounding soccer is excitement, not obsession.

And most outcomes of most activities affect nothing lasting. So what? Working an office job, reading a book, lifting weights, painting a picture. There are still benefits to partaking in them. Who's to judge whether the office worker is better than the hospice worker or the soccer player?

Beautiful like what? You mean like riots, killings, and endless, endless bickering and petty arguments from people who don't understand that it's just a fucking game?

People get carried away about all sorts of things: religion, politics, philosophy. That doesn't mean these are not worth pursuing and getting enthusiastic about.

And then when our team loses, we're going to bitch and bitch and bitch about it nonstop and form all sorts of wild conspiracies, or say we were disgraced and dishonored and whatever else.

Some teams do this, sure. But they look like sore losers even to fans. Most teams accept their losses gracefully and move on (look at the US).

Looks to me like it's just a jock who can kick a ball into a net. If you want beauty in physical accomplishments, go to the ballet.

You should watch more carefully. Beauty can be found in all areas of life. It isn't limited to ballets and museums any more than knowledge is limited to libraries and school campuses. No need to compartmentalize things.

[ Parent ]

Obsess? (4.00 / 2) (#33)
by pwhysall on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:42:21 AM EST

Like you obsess over AYB? Like that MATTERS?

Football is the only global game. It's the only time a country like Senegal can meet the likes of Germany and be on absolutely level ground.

Sport matters. Sport matters because if we were all working onorously but righteously for A Better World, we'd be hollow shells. There's supposed to be more to life than this, right?

We need to take our sport seriously for the simple reason that international sport, the kind that has 500 million people watching at a time, costs a lot of MONEY to organise.

I'd have thought you'd understand that part, even if you'll never understand the offside rule in a million years.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Really? I think not. (4.00 / 2) (#60)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 04:55:41 PM EST

It's the only time a country like Senegal can meet the likes of Germany and be on absolutely level ground.
Really? You mean they actually limit themselves to spending the same amount of time and money on training and practice? They each have the same size pool in which to search for talent and ability that can be honed?

Somehow I think not.



[ Parent ]

Really. (4.00 / 2) (#66)
by zocky on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:02:48 PM EST

Well, Senegal did beat France. Money just doesn't matter that much in world cup football.

Football is a game that anybody can play anytime anywhere. So you have poor kids all over the world becoming great football players

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Level ground (none / 0) (#68)
by vectro on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:56:19 PM EST

That's not true. I'd say a hockey rink is a lot more level than a soccer field. The former is brought to a level equilibrium by the forces of gravity; the latter is constructed. And soccer fields have to have good drainage, a concern which ice rinks don't share.

In fact, as far as field sports go, soccer's no different than football. Baseball, on the other hand, clearly does not have level ground: You've got the bases, pitcher's mound, etc.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

ice (none / 0) (#70)
by macpeep on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 02:17:55 AM EST

Yeah, but you don't see Senegal playing against Finland in the world championships in hockey, do you? :)

[ Parent ]
Maybe not, but (none / 0) (#89)
by vectro on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 04:24:57 PM EST

Slovakia took the world championships this year. If you look at a map, you'll see that hockey is less of an international sport - entirely a European event, with the exceptions of the US, Canada, and Japan.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Art. (none / 0) (#91)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:51:13 PM EST

Whoever has seen Pele, holding that ball for what seems an eternity, and passing the balll to the right wing for a phantasmagoric Carlos Alberto, has as only point of comparision Russian ballet, Argentinean tango or Spanish flamenco.

No, football is not art, but it can sometimes look suspiciously like it.
---
_._ .....
... .._ _._. _._ ...
._.. ._ _ . ._.. _.__

[ Parent ]

Don't like football? (3.50 / 2) (#30)
by pwhysall on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:29:22 AM EST

Ignore it then.

Stop whinging about it, and let the rest of the planet get on with enjoying the footie.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Sport is the new religion (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by noogie on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 06:44:03 AM EST

It gives people something to follow, something to believe in I guess. People need something.


*** ANONYMIZED BY THE EVIL KUROFIVEHIN MILITARY JUNTA ***
[ Parent ]
It's a rare moment of global unity (5.00 / 2) (#47)
by bc on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 09:19:55 AM EST

Remember, this sporting event is bigger than the Olympics, and the final will be watched by something like 25% of the world's population. That's *big*, it's very rare, and the degree to which it draws the world together to watch a single spectacle is unrivalled. In this sense, it does matter.

But for fuck's sake, people: It's a game.

Who exactly are you accusing of taking things too seriously? Or is this just a gigantic, enormous straw man where you will believe what you want to, because it makes you feel suoerior? Please by all means continue, but no need to bring your imagination here.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

What "matters". (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by kitten on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 05:02:19 PM EST

. That's *big*, it's very rare, and the degree to which it draws the world together to watch a single spectacle is unrivalled. In this sense, it does matter.

Nobody, including myself, denies this. My point is merely that the final outcome of the game affects nothing. No matter who wins or who loses, in the final count, nothing really changes.

I can understand the attraction to sporting events even if I don't like them or partake myself. Still, I object to the fact that watching what amounts to people chasing a ball around takes precedence over more pressing issues.

It disturbs me that thousands of scientists, goodwill workers, free-clinic third-world doctors, etc, donate enormous portions of their lives to helping others and making lasting, tangible contributions to society (or, to be fair, detracting from society - but this, too, "matters" in the sense that the results have real-world ramifications).. yet they are unsung heroes. Meanwhile, it's easy to find a chap on the street who can rattle off endless stats and facts on this sports team or that.

The final result of the World Cup has no more bearing than the final result of the Magic: The Gathering tourny in the comic shop down the street. (Eric won by attacking in the final minutes with a Shivan Dragon and using an Icy Manipulator to block his opponant's counterspell.)

And I'm seeing a lot of others in this thread spew forth high-minded rationalization about 'global unity' and suchlike, that countries interacting with others in a competitive but friendly way fosters international amicability, etc, etc, etc. Does it bollocks. Mexico is royally pissed at the US for defeating them, for example; other countries hold grudges against each other for the outcome of particular games as well. It's easy for the victor to look serene, but rarely do I see the defeated say "Ah, well, good game, guys."
(Remarkably, the US was one of those rare examples. After being defeated by Germany, the US got on with it's life, rather than dwelling on it like some other countries I could mention.)

Despite all the holier-than-thou pseduointellectual highbrowing about 'bringing the world together', it just doesn't work that way; more importantly, the fans aren't viewing it that way, minus a few pretentious holdouts. It's an excuse to get excited about something, and that's fine - just don't pretend it's something that it isn't.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Pesimistic (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by bc on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 05:45:58 PM EST

Sure, lot's of people in the world do wonderful things, and aren't praised for it, and certainly there are lots & lots of things far more important than football, or any other sport.

Plenty of people lose all sense of perspective when it comes to football. I know this for sure, where I live the two big local teams (Rangers & Celtic) have fanatical supporters, and the rivalry between the teams is based, originally, on the rivalry between religions, Protestantism and Catholicism. When things get too overboard, as they have in the past, with pitch invasions, riots, stabbings, and so on, then it's fairly obvious that people are taking a game too seriously. Even then, it isn't the fault of the game so much as that the teams concerned have become totems for far older prejudices. Still, I'd rather the ricalry between the Catholic and Protestant communities, in this instance, remain confined to the pitch (and they mostly are), rather than spread everywhere and get out of control, as in Northern Ireland. I am not arguing that football has somehow "saved" SW Scotland from sectarian, terrorist violence similar to that of Northern Ireland (it's much more complex than that), but I do think it provides a mostly useful pressure valve, even though very occasionally it fans aound the match will be violent, even now.

There are plenty of other instances of football being very important politically and culturally. Spain, under Franco, had two huge teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Real madrid was the "national" side, almost, backed by Franco and an instrument he used to keep the people happy as they stomped to victory again and again (like the games in the Roman colloseum, almost) across all Europe. Barcelona were, and are, the symbol of the Basque community, and were much despised by Franco, and were another great team, on the working men's social club model originally, that defied the fascists again and again and helped the Basques hold their heads high.

Similar has been seen all over the place, football teams being very important politically. A team in East Berlin, in the old days of the Cold War (forget the name, can't be bothered looking it up:\) was a font of anticommunist agitation. The Stasi would visit on match days to note who was in the crowd, heh. Other examples would be Solidarity on Poland, which did a lot of recruiting in the football terraces, Dynamo Kiev in the Ukraine defying the Nazis in a rigged match, called "the match of death", the spread of football in Apartheid South Africa and the unity that it helped foster (no really!), various famous international events with political ramifications, perhaps the most absurd being an actual war that broke out between Honduras and Ecuador after a football match between the two decided by a dodgy penalty decision (but mostly motivated by completely different issues, like, umm, immigration from one country to the other or something, forget).

In point of fact, football in many places has been, and will remain to be, very politically important indeed, for better or worse.

However, in some ways I agree with your post. Yes, international aid workers and terrible events here and there around the world should get more attention. However, if they are to, why single football out as something that should have less attention? There are many, many frivolous and silly activities, and almost all of them are taken too seriously by a few, just like football. It needn't be a zero sum game, you know? People can pay more attention to one, while not paying any less attention to the other. Eh, I'm getting incoherent.

Anyway, I think the aidworkers, scientists, and third world doctors don't want to be disturbed right now. They're watching the World Cup!

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Just start the commotion. (3.00 / 1) (#63)
by kitten on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 06:11:10 PM EST

Yes, international aid workers and terrible events here and there around the world should get more attention. However, if they are to, why single football out as something that should have less attention?

Because that happens to be the event that's getting the most attention at the moment. It wouldn't do for me to bitch about something else equally as frivolous, now would it? "Eh?" people would say, "What are you on about? We're not even doing [that] now! We're watching football!"

Nor do I think football needs to be zero-sum. I do think people need to have some perspective. The world is not going to be different one way or the other, no matter who wins or loses the World Cup. That isn't to say it needs to be abolished or that nobody should ever pay attention to it, but it'd be nice if they could get it into their heads that it's only a game, full of sound and fury, but signifying not a damn thing.

And for all the talk of 'the beautiful game', it looks to me like just another excuse for overzealous nationalists to hold grudges against each other while foaming at the mouth with jingoism and crazed bloody vengeance.

Rather silly, you ask me.
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Barcelona are Catalan (none / 0) (#77)
by Sharrow on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 07:37:11 AM EST

There are plenty of other instances of football being very important politically and culturally. Spain, under Franco, had two huge teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Real madrid was the "national" side, almost, backed by Franco and an instrument he used to keep the people happy as they stomped to victory again and again (like the games in the Roman colloseum, almost) across all Europe. Barcelona were, and are, the symbol of the Basque community, and were much despised by Franco, and were another great team, on the working men's social club model originally, that defied the fascists again and again and helped the Basques hold their heads high.

Barcelona are not Basque, they are Catalan. The Catalan culture was despised by Franco, mainly because they sided against him in the Civil War, and the football rivalry is part of that. Even today, the worst thing that a Barcelona player can do is to join Real Madrid. Just ask Luis Figo.

--


I've got green eyes, red hair, and I'm left handed. A hundred years ago, I'd have been considered in league with the Devil.
[ Parent ]
A question (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by jig on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 07:59:54 AM EST

Still, I object to the fact that watching what amounts to people chasing a ball around takes precedence over more pressing issues.
Answer me this: What good is spending your whole life toiling away to build the perfect house if after it's finished you die?

-----
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get ye all

[ Parent ]
effect of games on society (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by turmeric on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 11:25:09 AM EST

probably the only positive us-islam thing that has happened in recent memory is the US vs. Iran soccer game a few years back.

It is not obvious, but little things like this build up good will. When two parties never ever interact with each other, and then some problem rises up, then they are more likely to make hasty depersonalized decisions against each other. But if they have interacted before, then they are more likely to see each other as people.

Thats why world cup soccer can be important in the larger scheme of things. It brings people together who would otherwise never talk about or care about each other. Sure, it brings them together in a 'frivolous' way, kicking a ball around. on the other hand, frivolity is a wonderful way to initiate contact between two peoples, because there is nothing big 'at risk'.... it helps breed familiarity for when things really are going to be 'at risk'.



[ Parent ]

Football is part of society and many communities. (5.00 / 2) (#58)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:16:18 PM EST

Football has a long tradition of being part of the community. This is specially true in  Europe and South America, where you can trace the history of the football clubs for decades, that history is closely related to the town or state where the team was born.

In the US professional teams can be bought and sold and relocated according to what economy dictates. In football that is unthinkable.

People get involved with their teams at an emotional level, and this emotionality, this tribality, is translated easily into unconditional support for the national team.

Being the only truly global sport, football offers an arena (term used almost literally) where people can "settle" old scores in a normally harmless way.

Then you have Senegal gaining some dignity after beating former colonial power, France; England, taking revenge in the name of the UK (bar Scotland) for the Malvinas war; Mexico being denied the opportunity to avenge once again all the wrongdoings of the US and Japan making sure that the re-posession or the Kuriles Islands begins with the defeat of the Russian occupier.

Mr Eriksson, the coach of England put it better: when asked how was he motivating his players for the game against Argenitna, he answered "actually I have to under motivate them, I had to make them understand that they were just playing football, not reanacting the invasion of the Falklands".

Silly? Yes. Interesting and absorbing? Absolutely yes. But unless you don't understand that football is not only the game, but also a cultural manifestation, then it is impossible to understand what the fuzz is all about.

People some times need a catharsis, a big event that unifies them. This very often is a war. we are painfully aware of the power of war to unify people.

Or it can be a football match.

Also think how tremendously useful as an escape valve from the monotonous lives that most people lead is to immerse oneself for a couple of hours in this great drama, where Korea beating Portugal, Italy and Spain in a row is possible.

Yes, opium for the masses, but somehow is one opiate less harmful than many others humanity has tried before.
---
_._ .....
... .._ _._. _._ ...
._.. ._ _ . ._.. _.__

[ Parent ]

One global style?? (4.66 / 3) (#23)
by hoskoteinos on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 01:15:43 AM EST

Gotta take issue with this one:
Taking all these phenomena into account, one can see that the game of football played today is global in nature. There is no more the 'european style', or the 'brazilian style', or the 'asiatic style'. There is a single main style, focused on strong defense and counter attacks.
This is stated way too broadly for my taste. Maybe in certain ways styles are becoming similar, but even a neophyte soccer enthusiast could tell the difference between the way, say, Brazil and Germany play. Brazil's game is light, creative, spontaneous, risk-taking, forward-thinking. Germany is hard, physical, disciplined, powerful, defensively-minded. Saying everyone plays the same "global" style might sound nice, but it doesn't have much basis in reality.

Speaking as a soccer neophyte... (3.00 / 1) (#25)
by jjayson on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 01:41:06 AM EST

I have seen a couple Brazil and Germany games and I cannot distinguist the style from them.  I wrote a diary the sitaution.  on the attack, both teams do the same: they have alot of dead time in the middle of the field until somebody can control a long pass, they hold the ball near the corner or on the perimeter waiting for players to flash up the middle, then they kick a lob to those steaking players hoping the player can get a head or foot on it to hit the ball in the net.

-j
Better than E r i c since 1980.
You better take care of me, Lord
[ Parent ]
i stand corrected (3.50 / 2) (#32)
by hoskoteinos on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:37:25 AM EST

okay, then I'll just say people who have had a good amount of exposure to soccer can tell the difference.  :)

at least, I can...

[ Parent ]

Yep [nt] (4.00 / 2) (#42)
by noogie on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 06:54:35 AM EST




*** ANONYMIZED BY THE EVIL KUROFIVEHIN MILITARY JUNTA ***
[ Parent ]
Even a 'global style' allows small variations... (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by cribeiro on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 02:39:38 PM EST

If a sport goes to the point where you have to be an expert to identify the formation in use, either the sport is too complicated - in such a way that only experts will ever understand it - or all the teams are becoming more and more similar to each other. American football is on the first class - you have to study tons of formations to get a clue on what's happening. Football is going the second way, and that's why only old-time fans are able to notice the differences. They're now too subtle, which justifies the thesis presented in the article.

BTW, just because the article argues that we now have a 'global style', it does not mean that we do not have regional differences. They will still play an important part, but as the details that decide the game.

[ Parent ]

Word (4.00 / 2) (#69)
by BlackStripe on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 12:46:31 AM EST

The styles being utilized are dramatically different. Corea are running a 3-4-3 for chrissakes, I can't even remember the last time I saw that used by a team that made it this far. I know offensive formations (remember the 2-3-5 lol) were popular in the early days through the 1960's, but the game has become a lot more defensive since then. While I agree teams have generally followed this shift, Corea have not and it is a major part of their success. Even against world class teams like Italy and Portugal they keep coming with their three strikers and agressive wing mids. Most other teams on the international level run a 4-4-2 which usually becomes a de facto 4-5-1 after they score a goal. Italy take this to an extreme where they turtle in and play all out defense right from the start. Are there increasing similarities in the way most teams play the game? Sure, but there are a lot of teams out there that are really exciting and provide a refreshing sample of what football can be. Peace.

Blackstripe out.

"I normally take garbage records to the range and blow them away with my rifles."
- the one and only Johnny Juice Rosado

PS - I can't believe I forgot Japan! They ran a 4-3-2-1 at several points in the tournament. That is a rare one. You can't even pick it in FIFA 2002!

[ Parent ]

*more* defensively minded? (4.33 / 6) (#27)
by jjayson on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 02:07:32 AM EST

I am an America sportsfan, and I am trying to learn about soccer and why people enjoy it so much.  I even wrote a recent diary entry concerning my efforts.

One of the large problems I have is the random nature of scoring and winning.  That fact that there are so many games that are decided 1-0 or 2-1 seems to show that there is already enough defense in the game.  When a team is getting 6 shots on goal in 90 minutes, it seems like it is time for some serious thought on how to improve this.

In basketball a single bad call and decide a game, but that fact that it will account for less than 3% of the total scoring in the game means that there were ample opportunities the team had to make sure they were never in that situation.  In soccer you are talking about that one bad call being responsible for 100% of the scoring.

-j
Better than E r i c since 1980.
You better take care of me, Lord

If you're basing that on this World Cup, (3.66 / 3) (#34)
by fraise on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 04:00:16 AM EST

... you're right in noting that a bad referee call can seem to change the result of a large number of matches. However, this year's World Cup has had exceptionally questionable refereeing - usually it's not like this.

Otherwise, low scoring is not a sign of randomness, but of skill. Ask any die-hard football (soccer) fan and they'll tell you that usually, the best games are the lowest-scoring ones - even zero-zero games. It all depends on the quality of the teams, their tactics, possession, and several other factors. This is a game that's about playing, not just scoring. That probably sounds weird, but it's the best way I can describe it, myself being an American who knew very little about football/soccer only four years ago.

[ Parent ]
most games are low scoring, not just the good ones (4.66 / 3) (#38)
by jjayson on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 04:55:14 AM EST

I didn't say that low-scoring was a sign of a poorly played game, I said that the low-scoring allowed randomness to be a greater aspect of the game.  A single mistaken call is more likely to change the course of the game, than in sports where scoring is more prevalant.  I gave the exaple of a bad call is basketball being responsible for 3% of the total scoring in the game, but in soccer it can be (and often appears to be) 100% of the scoring.

Ask any die-hard football (soccer) fan and they'll tell you that usually, the best games are the lowest-scoring ones - even zero-zero games.
This says nothing.  Most of the games are this low scoring, so most of the bad games are low scoring, too.

It all depends on the quality of the teams, their tactics, possession, and several other factors. This is a game that's about playing, not just scoring.
The idea of strongly defensive games being good can be true of any sport.  Look at the 90's Bulls in the NBA, even though they had the best scorer in league (Michael Jordan) they were univerally praised for their defense more than anything else.

It is just that with so few shots on goal, when the "teams, tactics, possession, and other factors" only account for a difference in two or three scoring chances, the score becomes a poor discriminator of ability.  Bad calls and random luck begin to affect the game too much.

-j
Better than E r i c since 1980.
You better take care of me, Lord
[ Parent ]

but (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by spacejack on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:17:48 PM EST

I don't think soccer is about proving who's best. Maybe this is why Americans don't really dig it..?

[ Parent ]
Who's best? (4.00 / 2) (#73)
by Master Of Ninja on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:46:33 AM EST

I don't think soccer is about proving who's best. Maybe this is why Americans don't really dig it..?
I have to disagree... Why the championships then? And why do the Italians and Spanish scream daylight robbery? (I funnily enough think that the ref robbed them both)

The truth is that in professional football players, teams and countries do play to see who's best. But the best doesn't always win.

[ Parent ]
lies (none / 0) (#90)
by spacejack on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 07:39:34 PM EST

Soccer is a soap opera for men.

[ Parent ]
goals are incidental (4.16 / 6) (#35)
by hoskoteinos on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 04:22:40 AM EST

In my opinion, it's the process of watching plays unfold, seeing what creative things players can do with the ball that makes it worthwhile. The flow of the game is much more evident in soccer than other sports -- because they hardly ever stop playing. No time-outs, rare stoppages, occasional substitutions. Spontaneity is a must; too much strategy is a waste of time. This is why I can't watch American football: play, stop, plan, plan, play, stop, plan, play, stop, play, stop, etc. Basketball's pretty cool though (it would be better without timeouts!).

The scoring is not "random". Usually it reflects the extent to which one team dominates the other. Occasionally a team will get fluke goals or biased calls and not "deserve" to win, but not all the time. There's a reason Brazil has won more World Cups than any other country.

That said, it is unforunate that bad calls can ruin a team's chances of winning. Perhaps FIFA should consider the use of video replays like other sports have done.

In the mean time, as one of the US announcers mentioned, bad calls eventually come around. The US got away with a handball against Mexico, then were on the receiving end when a German player prevented a US goal with his hand. (Whether it was intentional is debatable of course.)

[ Parent ]

Thank you (none / 0) (#74)
by kvan on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 05:05:36 AM EST

This explains exactly why soccer doesn't do anything for me; something I've been trying to pin down for a long time. I happen to love the extremely strategic nature of football, but don't care for the loose flow of soccer. Of course, being Danish, this means most people consider me mad :)

"Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, most do." - Bertrand Russell


[ Parent ]
exactly (none / 0) (#75)
by jjayson on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 05:55:48 AM EST

In the mean time, as one of the US announcers mentioned, bad calls eventually come around. The US got away with a handball against Mexico, then were on the receiving end when a German player prevented a US goal with his hand. (Whether it was intentional is debatable of course.)
Just what I said.  Randomness in winning.

-j
Better than E r i c since 1980.
You better take care of me, Lord
[ Parent ]
That's where the fun lies (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by inerte on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 04:30:16 AM EST

A common place phrase about football is 'It's a box full of surprises'.

Football is so simple, yet the best sometimes doesn't win. Much is written about this, but my personal opinion is that altough I've played, and a lot, I still can tell what every World Cup player must do to.

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato
[ Parent ]

goals (3.50 / 2) (#71)
by macpeep on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 02:32:10 AM EST

I agree entirely. I'm a big hockey fan (which is probably not a big surprise since I come from Finland) and in hockey, there's close calls and action happening just about every 30 seconds. A typical 60 minute game sees about 80 shots on goal and maybe 8 goals. Saving a goal is really up to goalie skill, reaction time and positioning but while goalies save a lot of goals (=close calls and spectator excitement) there are still lots of goals in a typical game.

Now soccer on the other hand.. Very few goals.. 0-0 is not at all uncommon and a disproportional amount of matches are decided with a penalty shot contest. The action occurs mostly on the midfield and there aren't a lot of close calls (compared to hockey anyway). And while on the topic of penalty shots.. the goalie stands no chance on saving those shots. It's pure luck and you see goalies diving the wrong way a lot since they are totally guessing where the shot is going. Well, they have to.. that's the only way they stand ANY chance of saving the shots

I don't care all that much about the violence in hockey (though I'm not really bothered by it either) but at least it's usually fair. Not nearly as much diving and faking as there is in the world cup.

I too have been thinking about how "broken" soccer seems. I don't know how to fix it though. At first, I thought making the goals bigger would be a good idea to increase the number of goals. But then that would make penalty shots totally impossible to save. Perhaps the number of players should be reduced? Perhaps there should be hockey style 2 minute penalties? I don't know.. But the game does seem broken..

I know how arrogant that sounds, seeing as it's the most popular sport on earth. However, after a season of hockey, I can't help but feel pretty bored when I look at the soccer games. There's no where near the same "oooh" and "aaaah" in the games as there is in hockey. I'm sure lots of people (most, even) would disagree with me... I'd like to know why. :)

[ Parent ]

Hockey: (none / 0) (#86)
by leviramsey on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 01:58:08 PM EST

Soccer done right

:-P



[ Parent ]
The hypnotic nature of football (5.00 / 2) (#80)
by cribeiro on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:23:21 AM EST

Looking back at the first editions of the World Cup, one can see that huge scores were much more common. We had few 0x0 draws, but it was not uncommon to heard about 5x3, 4x4, or similarly 'big' scores. As the game evolved, these scores have been turned rarer, but still happen - we recently had Brazil 5 x Costa Rica 2, and Uruguay 3 x Senegal 3.

However, not always big scores mean a more exciting game. An 8x0 massacre like the inflicted by Germany over Saudi Arabia can be incredibly boring. As some people pointed out, the more important feature of football is the flow of the game. Sometimes a team is not playing very well, but then starts to build up a pressure against the opponent; it takes a few minutes, but it gets stronger and stronger, and then when you see they are suffocating the opponent team in their defense camp. In American Football, you have well defined attack - defense turns. Basketball is closer to football in this respect, as the dynamic of the game change, but then there are other big differences.

In short, football has a hypnotic character; a good game hold you glued to it watching, looking at the movements. It is a relatively slow game, if compared to basketball or hockey. This slowness allows for something different; as you watch, you attempt to predict the next move; you see players flying by, waiting for the pass that won't come; you see incredible chances of scoring that leave you thinking: 'I could have scored that one'; and so on. As for the movements, it's pretty much like seeing a complex piece of machinery moving, but then you have magic moments of creativity that turn the game upside down. And all of this without breaking the game flow, without time outs to change your strategy, with no chance to change the entire team, and without pauses for ads. Hey - that's pretty much like real life, don't you think?

[ Parent ]

that is true of all sports (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by jjayson on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 12:17:24 PM EST


In short, football has a hypnotic character; a good game hold you glued to it watching, looking at the movements. It is a relatively slow game, if compared to basketball or hockey. This slowness allows for something different; as you watch, you attempt to predict the next move; you see players flying by, waiting for the pass that won't come; you see incredible chances of scoring that leave you thinking: 'I could have scored that one'; and so on. As for the movements, it's pretty much like seeing a complex piece of machinery moving, but then you have magic moments of creativity that turn the game upside down.
How is this any way unique to soccer as you claim.  Whenever I see a basketball game, you will get the exact same experience in this regard.  Have you never seen somebody streak down the lane or roll away from a pick with their arms extended looking for the pass that never came? Haven't you ever seen the player coming off the low post pick and confused the defender's rotation that left somebody wide open for a 3 foot shot that you seem them blow saying to yourself, "I could have hit that!"  Too many people think that soccer has some special qualities, when in reality it offers much of the same that traditionally American sports offer.


And all of this without breaking the game flow, without time outs to change your strategy, with no chance to change the entire team, and without pauses for ads. Hey - that's pretty much like real life, don't you think?
That is just rhetoric.  Anything can be compared to life if you try hard enough.  However, I would have to say no.  In life you can take a break and rest for a while before going out and trying it again: I am taking a 6 month break from work right now.  In life you do have time to create detailed plans and execute them.  You do have time to change your team in and out. I don't see this similarity you claim.

However, not always big scores mean a more exciting game. An 8x0 massacre like the inflicted by Germany over Saudi Arabia can be incredibly boring. As some people pointed out, the more important feature of football is the flow of the game.
This is a falsely drawn conclusion that keeps being echoed.  Just because a large scoring game is a blowout is boring doesn't mean anything.  If soccer games were 8-8, that has the same potential to be a excellently played game if the rules were set up for that.  Sure, under the current game structure it probably means that the teams have no defense, but that is not what I was referring to; I am taking about a change in the rules that would fascilitate more scoring not at the expense of quality.  These are clearly independant conditions.  Also, maybe the best scoring games are 1-0, but more games have a similar scoring, so most of the bad games are 1-0, too.  This proved nothing.

-j
Better than E r i c since 1980.
You better take care of me, Lord
[ Parent ]
Scoring as a measurement of effectiveness (none / 0) (#87)
by cribeiro on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 02:29:14 PM EST

I believe we mostly agree on lots of stuff, and that's why the little differences become so important. While writing my post, I had in fact a thought about comparing basketball and football; in some sense, the way the game develops is very similar. You have moments in the game that may last for a few minutes, with one team doing pressure over the other one; after some time, the defense relaxes a bit, and it's the other team turn. I decided to omit it from my post, because it was already becoming a bit too long - a few more paragraphs and it would become a story on its own.

Also, my comment on 'real life' needs to be understood in the right context; I was comparing the uninterrupted flow of play in football to the constant interruptions in, let us say, American Football. That's one gripe that most football fans have with American sports in general: too many interruptions, too many ads, etc.

Finally, (in my opinion) the main difference between bastketball and football is that, in the first, scoring actually reflects how dominant a team was; on the other hand, scores in football measure how effective teams were. Shoot twenty times, miss all, zero goals. Shoot only once, hit it, you scored the winner. You may contend that luck plays a much bigger role in football than in basketball, but then, it's pretty hard to be effective in any activity if you are unlucky.

[ Parent ]

soccer vs football (3.00 / 5) (#28)
by ShadowNode on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:23:48 AM EST

Canadians, and I believe Aussies also refer to it as soccer. "American football" is a misnomer, as there it would seem to refer to the Usian variety of the sport (we'd then need to refer to Usian American football and Canadian American football).

I propose we refer to the sports as hooliganism (soccer), and retarded rugby (football).



AFL (3.50 / 2) (#41)
by daniels on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 06:51:41 AM EST

And shithouse Old Boys' Club Aussie Rules (rugby league), and shithouse povvo Aussie Rules (rugby union), and football - Aussie Rules.

Confused as to what I'm talking about? Try here. Bereft of a club to support? Try this team of young guns.

(You of course have to remember that the rugby league/union split evolved from a class war, where league was the old boys, and union was the blue-collars).
--
somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now
[ Parent ]
Sociology of League and Union. (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by driptray on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:15:49 PM EST

You of course have to remember that the rugby league/union split evolved from a class war, where league was the old boys, and union was the blue-collars.

Actually, you'll find it was the other way around, and still is.

Union was the original (amateur) game. A break away league was started with the aim of being professional, allowing working class players to make a living. The new league modified its rules in response to commercial pressures, while Union stayed much the same.

Now that Union has gone professional in the last decade we can expect that this class-based difference may wither.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
[ Parent ]
Rabbitoh's and US Footy (none / 0) (#76)
by cam on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 06:56:38 AM EST

A break away league was started with the aim of being professional, allowing working class players to make a living

The South Sydney Rabbitohs got their name because the players after the game would go rabbit trapping to help feed their families.

Most Americans think what Australians call football is soccer too. The AFL appears on US television and is well known. Oddly enough Americans consider it dangerous because it is played without padding. I think a helmet makes for a more dangerous weapon than flesh. Then again I played for the New York Magpies back in 1998 at the US National Championships in the USAFL, and got my leg broken in Cincinatti which only seemed to confirm most Americans opinion of the dangerousness nature of the game of AFL.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Troll (3.66 / 3) (#37)
by inerte on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 04:38:31 AM EST

Poll results, 41% doesn't care.

While 33% of the world watch it, USians don't know what's going on.
</troll>

<fact>
A 1994 poll showed 85% of Americans didn't know they were hosting the World Cup. :-(
</fact>

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Plato

Teams lose matches - period (3.00 / 4) (#44)
by 8ctavIan on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 07:28:59 AM EST

Spain only lost its quarterfinals match against Korea due to direct interference from the referee - an unfortunate factor that still plays a major role on the result of the game.

A major US sports writer who covered European sports (whose name I wish I could remember) wrote that one of the major turn-offs of soccer for him was the 'blame the referee' mentality. I am a big fan of soccer and of baseball. The outcome of a baseball game is influenced to a large degree by the umpires (equivalent to referees), however I don't see such a degree of lamenting of bad calls by losing teams in US sports like baseball.

I watched the USA-Germany match and there was a really bad call by the referee that should have resulted in a penalty kick. Did that really cost them the match? In the final analysis, no. The USA didn't win because they didn't score any goals - period. Spain lost to Korea because they didn't score any goals either. Then, during the penalty shots, they sent in a player (Joaquin) who was completely exhausted and unable to do what he was supposed to. It was an error to have him do that. Teams lose because they are the ones who commit the errors - not the officals.


Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. -- H.L. Mencken

I am reminded of a story... (5.00 / 2) (#45)
by MickLinux on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 08:55:04 AM EST

I am reminded of a story about how an umpire in the major leagues made an error -- during a close call in which the player made it safely to the base, he called "Safe" and jerked his thumb over his shoulder.

He then turned to the player and said, "I'm sorry, but you're out.  You'll have to sit down."

The player argued, "But I was safe by a MILE, and you called safe."  He looked at the first baseman for support, and got it.  "Even he knows I was safe."  

The umpire answered "Yes, but I accidentally made the sign for "OUT" with my hand, and 20,000 fans know that you're out.

The player went back to the bench without further argument.

Yep, bad calls can even rule the day.  But umpires are judged based on the validity of their calls, and they only advance by performing well.  

Indeed, there was a case where an umpire made a bad call in basketball, perhaps around 1989 [maybe involving Notre Dame?], and the regional sports commissioner was there, and attempted to overrule the call.  However, the next day, the scores were reported as if the call had not been overruled, because of the point that -- even if the referee makes a bad call -- it is still part of the game.

In the end, love em or loathe em, referees are part of the game, bad calls and all.

Just keep repeating to yourself: (... land of the free and the home of the brave...)


[ Parent ]

Not true (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by Buenaventura Durruti on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 09:37:48 AM EST

There's a lot of guys that claims they has a mighty pennis. Although many of them lies, someone could really have a mighty pennis. Generalizations are always wrong.

In a soccer match the winner should be the team that makes more goals, Spain yesterday made two goals that was nullified by the refeere although both was legal as it was clearly appreciated on TV.

Moreover, one of these goals was made on extra time and, by the rules of this world cup, it was a "gold goal" (a goal that ends the match with the victory for the team that has made it).

So, no matter where in other matches refeere is unjustly blamed, but in this match Spain do lost because refeere "mistakes".


[ Parent ]

I was about to edit that sentence. Seriously. (3.00 / 1) (#49)
by cribeiro on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 09:38:28 AM EST

The main gripe people told me about while the article was in the edit queue was about this particular sentence. I didn't intend to offend Koreans, who have been playing on a very good level, and deserved the qualification to the semifinals by scoring all their penalty kicks.

What I intended to point out is that Spain has a terrific forward line, and that they could have made it was not because some bad calls. The Spanish press is crazy about it, and I think I just got a little on their side... but I agreed with previous comments, as much as agree with yours. Unfortunately, I could not edit the story as I wanted to.

[ Parent ]

goes the other way too (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by dalinian on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 12:19:32 PM EST

I watched the USA-Germany match and there was a really bad call by the referee that should have resulted in a penalty kick. Did that really cost them the match? In the final analysis, no. The USA didn't win because they didn't score any goals - period. Spain lost to Korea because they didn't score any goals either.

But one reason why the US and Spain didn't score is precisely that the referees made those bad calls. In football, you don't get that many chances of scoring in one match. And if those few are wrongly taken away, of course you don't score.

I admit that in those two matches you mentioned the mistakes of the referees didn't have a really big effect. At least Spain should have been able to score anyway (but then again, without their best striker, Raul, it was hard).

But the big issue is that if you get punished for your own style of play, scoring becomes next to impossible. For instance, the Italian striker Inzaghi is known for his fast runs. In this tournament, some assistant referees clearly didn't have that much experience of this style of attack, and many perfectly legal scoring attempts were flagged offside. An incident like this (but with Damiano Tommasi) also happened in the extra time of Italy-Korea, and the Italians were denied an almost certain golden goal.



[ Parent ]
soccer exacerbates bad calls (3.50 / 2) (#65)
by jjayson on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 06:12:59 PM EST

With so few scoring chances in soccer, one poor call by the referee has major impacts in the game.  When you are only getting six shots on goal the change to equalize against a bad call is almost eliminated.

In basketball, one poor call will only account for maybe 3% of the total scoring, but in soccer with many 1-0 games, a single call can be responsible for 100% of the scoring.  This makes winning almost random at times.

Hockey is the closet comparison to soccer, probably. In three periods of hockey you will see at least 30 shots on goal.  This insults the game from poor calls.  Also, the balance of power is with the goalie in hockey when faced with a one-on-one situation, but in soccer it rest with the attacker.  This makes for a very stange situation: you have very few scoring opportunities (i.e., scoring is very difficult), but penalty shots or other one-on-one situations mostly go to the attacker (i.e., they are comparatively easier).  This makes referr and bad calls impact the game more than other sports.


-j
Better than E r i c since 1980.
You better take care of me, Lord
[ Parent ]

but not only that (none / 0) (#79)
by dalinian on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 08:16:43 AM EST

In basketball, one poor call will only account for maybe 3% of the total scoring, but in soccer with many 1-0 games, a single call can be responsible for 100% of the scoring. This makes winning almost random at times.

True. But to me, basketball seems like a very repetitive game. The best players are not the ones with incredible skill and the ability to make creative decisions that have a major effect on the game. Instead, the tall players have a significant advantage.

Football is random at times. But this also allows for the individual star players to shine. Players like Zinedine Zidane are not good because they have practiced so much, or because they are tall, or anything like that. They are good because they can read the game, and make the creative decisions that result in important goals.

Now, if more goals were scored in a football match, the bad referee wouldn't have such an impact. But it would also make the game less interesting, because the individual skill and intelligence wouldn't have an effect anymore either. You would only need players that can shoot hard, tackle hard and run fast for the whole 90 minutes.



[ Parent ]
leaps in reasoning (none / 0) (#82)
by jjayson on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 12:02:25 PM EST

There is no reason to believe that a higher scoring game takes away from the skill.  Why?  Given more opportunity to score, above the pathtic six shots on goal, would give players the ability to show their skills to a greater extent, it would seem.  With so few scores, the strategies are limited just by opportunity.  I still see soccer much more homogeneous than basketball or even hockey.  The number of formations maybe roughly the same, but the ways in which players interact and plays are run is far more numerous in basketball just by the nature of the rules: e.g., is soccer and basketball there are give-and-gos, but basketball also has the concept of the pick and the variations springing from that like a pick-and-kickout and pick-and-roll.

If you think that basketball players are goo because of height, you severly underestimate the creative play-making ability of the players.  Michael Jordan may have been a tall guard, but his inspired moves and immense talent to create scores was what everbody watched.  Mike Bibby is 6'2" and one of the best players in the league.  These are not isolated incidences, either.  Yes, basketball players are taller than average, but this is not what makes them great.  It that were true Minute Bol at his 7'2" would be a phenominal players, scorer, and play-maker.  He is not.  Shaq is great not because he is a 7' 350lbs beast, but because he is so atheletic in that such a large package.  True, he wouldn't be the same if he was 6'6", but it isn't height that makes him the player he is.

Almost any sport can have creativity and atheticism, that is what makes them interesting to watch.


-j
Better than E r i c since 1980.
You better take care of me, Lord
[ Parent ]

building (none / 0) (#84)
by dalinian on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 01:01:47 PM EST

Given more opportunity to score, above the pathtic six shots on goal, would give players the ability to show their skills to a greater extent, it would seem. With so few scores, the strategies are limited just by opportunity.

Yes, they could show their skills better, but only some of the skills: shooting and goalkeeping come to mind. If there were dozens of scoring opportunities in every match, there would be no need for creative star players. And because the opportunities are rare, goals taste even sweeter. In basketball, scoring points is expected from every opportunity, and usually the failures are best remembered.

A true star player in football is the one that can in a 0-0 match create that one scoring opportunity that enables a striker to clinch the match. If every player could create such opportunities, no team would need creative midfielders. The best players in football usually play in the midfield, or between the midfielders and forwards.

It's interesting that both basketball and hockey lack midfielders. (At least I think so... well, hockey does anyway.) They both are about attacking and defending, and not as much about building as football. I admit this not a "right-wrong" type of question, but in general I believe that football requires more creativity than basketball or hockey (even though they both require creativity as well - Wayne Gretzky and Jordan are good examples).

Minute Bol at his 7'2" would be a phenominal players, scorer, and play-maker. He is not.

I admit I have never heard of him. But would he be in the NBA (I assume he is in the NBA), if he was much shorter? Football players can be very short (like Maradona) or tall (like most goalkeepers and some strikers), and height (or the lack of it) doesn't affect their abilities at all.



[ Parent ]
goal free (none / 0) (#92)
by aphrael on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 09:06:15 PM EST

I watched the USA-Germany match and there was a really bad call by the referee that should have resulted in a penalty kick. Did that really cost them the match? In the final analysis, no. The USA didn't win because they didn't score any goals - period

Ahhh, but that particular call would have been in response to a rules violation on the German side; without that rules violation the US would have scored a goal. :)

[ Parent ]

Have to disagree (4.50 / 2) (#46)
by HenryR on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 09:09:41 AM EST

One global style? I don't think so. A connoisseur could easily tell apart Brazil and, say, South Korea. To my untrained eyes, basketball is much more homogenous in terms of playing styles.

Even more pronounced is the difference in styles between each country's respective leagues. The English Premiership is known for frenetic, hard games (which perhaps have a lack of skill), where the Spanish league is becoming renowned for the skill of its players. The Italian Serie A typically features slower, more tactical games based on solid defence (and it is this league that probably comes closest to your global style).

It's a bit redundant to argue that teams haven't succeeded in the world cup due to their inability to score. Well, duh. France were a great disappointment as an attacking force. But consider Uruguay, who scored five goals in their three games and failed to progress (contrast with England's two). By reducing football to a simple "score more goals than the opposition" formula you capture the essence without any of the details of the game.

Henry
----------------------------
http://www.desiderate.co.uk

Such changes take time, but are impossible to stop (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by cribeiro on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 10:16:46 AM EST

The evolution of the global football style is still underway. I agree with you in the sense that is still possible to discern the teams by the play style, even if they change jerseys and wear masks just to fool the audience. However, it's getting increasingly difficult to do so. This edition of the World Cup has shown us an inflection point, where this change is already so deeply rooted as to be impossible to revert.

I track the beggining of the last wave of changes to the 1990 World Cup. I regard Spain'1982 as the last 'old-time' tournament; 1986 showed some transition, but by 1990, the game had changed a lot. Many experts say that Italy'1990 was the worst World Cup they ever saw, full of boring games, teams with total lack of imagination, and a defense-only mindset.

Since then - passing through US'1994 and France'1998 - the game has evolved towards the global style. It is increasingly more difficult to tell the main teams of the world apart. I concede that the local culture is still a very important factor, and I believe that it plays a big role on the style of the game around the world. However, the global style is here to stay.

[ Parent ]

Interestingly Enough (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by VoxLobster on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 11:54:38 AM EST

A connoisseur could easily tell apart Brazil and, say, South Korea

South Korea is playing their football a lot like the great Dutch teams of the 70's...I think they called it Total Football... It's great to watch. I think they have a dutch coach as well.

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar
[ Parent ]

soccer exacerbates bad calls. (4.50 / 2) (#64)
by jjayson on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 06:11:45 PM EST

With so few scoring chances in soccer, one poor call by the referee has major impacts in the game.  When you are only getting six shots on goal the change to equalize against a bad call is almost eliminated.

In basketball, one poor call will only account for maybe 3% of the total scoring, but in soccer with many 1-0 games, a single call can be responsible for 100% of the scoring.  This makes winning almost random at times.

Hockey is the closet comparison to soccer, probably. In three periods of hockey you will see at least 30 shots on goal.  This insults the game from poor calls.  Also, the balance of power is with the goalie in hockey when faced with a one-on-one situation, but in soccer it rest with the attacker.  This makes for a very stange situation: you have very few scoring opportunities (i.e., scoring is very difficult), but penalty shots or other one-on-one situations mostly go to the attacker (i.e., they are comparatively easier).  This makes referr and bad calls impact the game more than other sports.

-j
Better than E r i c since 1980.
You better take care of me, Lord
[ Parent ]

Finally, an interesting article on football (3.66 / 3) (#57)
by mr nutter on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:01:30 PM EST

Like most other residents of the UK I've had to endure a deal of jingoistic foaming about this game for several weeks now. Talk of "the beautiful game" seems to be characterised by emotive and vague language including "the spirit of '66", "national pride" and similar claptrap.

This article on the other hand has something new to say, though perhaps a mention of the huge business that football has become and the way football terminology has crept into the vernacular ("own goal" springs to mind) would've been good

Nevertheless, since it has gone to the vote, +1

Soccer is the TCP/IP of team sports (4.75 / 4) (#72)
by jbond23 on Mon Jun 24, 2002 at 03:42:53 AM EST

And will eventually take over the world, even the USA, with it's minimal hardware requirements, wide implementation, stable ruleset but mostly because anyone can play anywhere.

On globalization, tactics, and the new football game | 94 comments (73 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
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