Much as I've tried over the years to get into the game of soccer, I just can't. The sad truth is that as a spectator sport, soccer plainly sucks.
Now before you get off on a rant and tell me that it's the most popular sport in the world, let me say that, in and of itself, that fact is wholly unimpressive.
Rice is the most popular food in the world, but I wouldn't sing its praises either.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world simply because it appeals to the poor. That is why over one quarter of a billion people participate.
One ball and an open space is all it takes. As for rules, any idiot can catch on quickly, kick the ball into the net and score a point, most points wins. For most nations, soccer is the only recreational sport that the country can afford to support and so soccer balls are provided for recreation in refugee camps, slums, poor villages and neighbourhoods across the entire world. In fact if you're in Liberia, you can even kick around a human skull, failing a ball. It makes perfect sense that soccer has a world-wide appeal, but it doesn't make it a great game.
Soccer suffers from some very basic and fundamental flaws. First and foremost is its LACK OF SCORING. Last Friday's opening World Cup matches yielded a grand total of two goals between the two games - not very exciting.
Soccer invented the the term 'NIL' to replace the word 'zero' to somehow denote that not scoring a goal is some sort of an achievement. An English fan once explained to me that soccer is a game of anticipation, not action. Arghhh....
Of course soccer has not come to grips with the fact that TIED GAMES (DRAWS) ARE A COLOSSAL BORE. Every other major sport in the world has figured out a tie-breaking formula and while soccer does use the 'Golden Goal" formula sometimes, the preliminary rounds have already provided the dreaded 'Kissing your sister' result all too often.
THE FIELD IS WAY TOO BIG, it takes so long to get to the opposing goal that almost all the time is wasted in the neutral field. For fans in the stands, it's a snooze-a-thon, players look like Lilliputians and even when an exciting play is executed, hardly anyone notices.
The large field leads to inept refereeing, the officials are almost always too far away to get the call right, leading to comically bad decisions that affect the outcome of the match all too often.
In fact referees are so far away from the action that players have perfected the sickening art of diving, or faking, to the point that the very integrity of the game is in jeopardy.
Take a look at this video of soccer's finest, doing their thing.
How can any parent encourage their children to grow up and emulate a bunch of dishonest pansies, who flop around the field like beached whales, trying to cheat without any scruples or embarrassment.
When referees occasionally do catch someone diving, the player is given the ubiquitous yellow flag, or a warning, instead of being kicked off the field immediately. So diving pays.
Of course soccer refuses to use video replays to aid in making crucial decisions as compared to NHL hockey and American and Canadian football. The use of video review in sport has made the games infinitely fairer and yes, even more exciting.
Had any sort of video review been used, France would have had the most famous 'hand goal' reversed in its preliminary game with Ireland.
The reputation of professional soccer is set to take a stunning hit as allegations of widespread game-fixing are surfacing. Perhaps soccer with it's less than genius fan base can survive this type of scandal, but I can imagine the reaction in North America of the news that players of a professional team threw a game deliberately.
Even the slightest whiff of impropriety brings down the wrath of the league on any miscreant, just ask Pete Rose.
Investigative journalist Declan Hill, who authored The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, says match-ﬁxing in professional soccer is organized primarily through the multi-billion-dollar illegal Asian gambling market and is widespread. Ecchhh!. Link
Aside from all this, it boils down to the fact that soccer remains uninteresting to those not born into the game. Although easy enough to understand, soccer has little appeal to native born North Americans, who shun the game despite the best efforts of promoters to hawk the game.
North America's most important professional soccer league draws an average of just 16,000 per game and is heavily dependent on foreign immigrants as a fan base.
The world cup or "Mundial' is a time for North American immigrants to flaunt their national pride by flying flags on their cars and cheering for the home team in ethnic bars and restaurants. If you live in Toronto and Montreal or any city with a sizable immigrant population, you're now being treated to wildly enthusiastic display of support and adoration for the old country.
To all of you, I say, Enjoy!
Native Canadians will be sipping beer by the pool or cottage, contemplating the upcoming NHL free agent bonanza on July 1st and the NHL draft.
As for the world Cup of Soccer. zzzzzzzzzzzzz.