Support Our Advertisers


« Five World Cup Matches You Can't Miss This Week | Main | Group H Preview: Spain vs. Honduras »

Note To Soccer: Please Step Your Game Up

World Cup 2010 Logo

Poor Officiating Not The
Only Ill At World Cup 2010

One Great Season

"I really want to get into soccer. I've tried. But I just can't."

I have heard it no less than 20 times in the last three weeks. Leading up to the World Cup, with a gleam in my eye and undeniable giddiness in my vocal chords, I would simply say, "Just watch the World Cup. You'll be hooked."

Soccer, you're really starting to tick me off.

Here I sit, a week into the so-called "Greatest Sporting Event in the World" with egg on my face.  Not Eggs Benedict, or even a nice Mediterranean omelette. Nope. We're talking salty, runny, bland American scrambled eggs. Served with a side of I told you so.

So far, this tournament has done nothing to draw in a sporting nation that struggles with the culture of international football. Here are just a few reasons why:

+ The Cup has been shockingly boring. A few weeks ago, I was appalled at Jose Mourinho's comment that the UEFA Champions League was "more important" than the World Cup. What a fool I was to doubt "The Special One." It is becoming more and more apparent that the World Cup is not what it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Back in the day, club football in England was mostly comprised of Brits. Many talented Argentinians and Brazilians didn't play professionally in Europe (at least not in the numbers they do now). For many countries, the World Cup team consisted of players mostly pulled from the two or three best squads in that given country. They were familiar with each other. It didn't take as long to become a cohseive unit. Plus, they weren't dealing with the mental and physical demands of 35+ league matches and the extra four to 25 added in with domestic and international cup ties.

The toll of these arduous seasons is plainly evident at this World Cup, with many of the planet's top footballers playing at less than 100 percent. The quality isn't there. Offenses are struggling to link up. Therefore, most of these teams are sitting back (save Brazil and Argentina) and waiting for a mistake. Maybe the biggest knock against soccer is the lack of scoring. This competition is doing nothing to debunk that.

Unfortunately, Mourinho is right again. This tournament is not the best the sport has to offer.

+ A kick in the balls. I know everyone's sick of hearing about the Jabulani, but the evidence of its inferior construction is starting to build up. Some of the best free-kick specialists in the world are miles off with their service. And, can you remember a World Cup where you've seen more chances sailing over the crossbar? The one person who seems to be having few problems with the ball: Landon Donovan. Go figure.

+ Vuvuzelas. Even saying the word makes my head hurt.

+ USA. Where do I begin? Our country only embraces a winner. While soccer enthusiasts were beside themselves with glee at the 1-1 gift from England, others who watched (and the ratings say a lot of them did) scratched their heads at our excitement over a tie.

Then, there's the phantom foul. As a Boston Celtic fan, I didn't think I could be any more furious than I was on Friday night after the Lakers shot 23 free throws in the fourth quarter. The NBA is becoming more irrelevant in non-NBA cities because of the awful officiating, the star-player favoritism by officials, officials who decide the outcome of games and the lack of accountability when it comes to poor officiating.

But I digress. That has nothing to do with soccer. Oh wait. Cue the USA-Slovenia tape. First, this game did nothing to reverse opinions amongst soccer-haters and fence-sitters alike. The U.S. was poor. The choice for a starting lineup was shambolic. The first half was awful. And then there's this conversation I've already had with at least a dozen friends since Friday morning:

Them: Why was the goal disallowed?
Me: Don't know.
Them: Didn't they explain it?
Me: Don't have to.
Them: Why isn't there instant replay? I mean, they could easily have fixed that. Just like they could have fixed the handball call by the same official against Robbie Findley that clearly hit his head.
Me: Great point, but I still don't have any answers for you.

Give me something to work with here soccer, or football, or futbol. I have defended your honor for years. Every time some drunken idiot has hurled insults at you at the bar, I've had your back. It's about time you had mine.

Click here for Ben's bio and an archive of his previous stories.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>