Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup Soccer---Bah Humbug!

Having just witnessed another fantastic NHL hockey playoff come to an end, and now watching the hoopla surrounding the World Cup of Soccer in South Africa, I cannot escape the feeling that, well quite simply, soccer is one boring experience!

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.

Not only is the lack of scoring a problem, but the LACK OF SCORING OPPORTUNITIES make the game almost impossible to sit through. It's a rare game that has more than six or seven scoring chances that get fans out of their seats, compared to a hockey where an average of between thirty and forty shots are directed at the net, each game. The reality of all this is that fans have to get rip-roaring drunk to sit through the tedium of a soccer match.  And so many drunken mobs of SOCCER HOOLIGANS roam the streets before and after matches with the stated goal of causing mayhem and destruction. Anything to make the soccer experience more 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.


  1. Considering that Canadiens fans are similar to European soccer fans in many respects, I find the critique of hooliganism interesting (I say this as a Habs fan myself)

    In Minnesota, we have developed an interesting rivalry with the soon to be departed Montreal team due to an amateur photographer photographing Sandro Grande choking Mauro Biello. We also have established a tradition of taunting Adam Braz, another MTL native.

    As an outsider, I must say I find Montreal's soccer culture impressive, with 55,000 fans coming for the memorable win against Santos Laguna in the spring of 2009 before the epic collapse afterwards. Whether or not you choose to like soccer, I believe the sport will grow in your home city, and North American soccer fans are generally appreciative of the fan culture that has developed there.

    There are plenty of reasons to like or dislike soccer, although I will say in Canada we American MLS fans (of which I am one) happy to have new MLS teams in Vancouver and Montreal in the next two years to go along with the excellent Toronto fanbase.

    I do find one comment interesting, you seem to use the fact that soccer is popular as a critique of it. Yet in a previous post you extolled the praises of American popular music (the one about the Militant Francophones complaining about Anglo-Americans at the Quebec City music festival) on the basis that millions of people like it.

    So when it comes to endorsing as "world class" anything that is pushed by the mainstream American music industry is worthy of "first rate" status, even though it takes little creativity of the mind to slavishly follow the Black Eyes Peas or a washed up political trainwreck like Paul McCartney. In that case the fact that so much of the world like soccer is an indication of its banality.

    Whereas atleast in the North American context those that follow soccer are worldly and cosmopolitan, and tend to have high levels of geographic and cultural literacy. Quite the opposite of the folks who follow the NBA, who tend to worship celebrity.

    A curious standard of judging the merits of popular international music and sport indeed...

  2. Editor: “When referees occasionally do catch someone diving, the player is given the ubiquitous yellow flag,”

    It’s a yellow CARD, not a yellow flag...LOL

    Your criticism of soccer’s shortcomings on the refereeing side and the cheating being part of every soccer player’s repertoire are valid. I wrote about it on my blog last year (post entitled “The (not so) beautiful game) and pointed out the same issues.

    But you seem to be part of the “old guard” holding down the last fort. The last of the Mohicans resisting the inevitable.

    What you point about soccer being a simple game (for the “poor”) is what makes it great. The beauty of soccer is that all you need is a ball and a field. No need for any pretentious equipment that takes half an hour to put on. On top of it there is no stoppage of time in soccer and no idiotic side shows. There is just one thing and nothing else – the match.

    Although with the great talent that Americans have for making a spectacle out of every sporting event, the game of soccer has been slightly corrupted in North America. I find that here, the parents don’t send their kids just to play the game. Here, everything is organized into leagues and kids always come equipped with cleats and soccer uniforms. There is no spontaneity, like in my days – where we would just get together and have a game. No fancy equipment, no organized tournaments, sometimes no goal posts but our school bags. I never see it here but on my last trip to Paris I saw 50 or 60 of guys playing 3 games side by side on the lawns right in front of L'Hôtel National des Invalides. The guys weren’t wearing any uniforms, and.....used their school bags for goal posts. It made me extremely happy and brought back great memories. And made me think that maybe I should move back to Europe...;)

  3. "First and foremost is its LACK OF SCORING"

    And tie games as well.

    They should do it like in the NHL and end it up with sudden death shooting barrages.

  4. It's war by proxy and it is a poor persons game...that is why it's so popular. Anyone and everyone has a shot a making it big.

    The diving is a cultural thing, they thinks it's acceptable.

    Not my idea of fair play but he who am I. If you win by cheating so be it. It won't mean as much.

  5. Soccer is a poor man's game. That's why it is so popular.