Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Everyone Is Mad

Men's World Cup soccer is just making everyone mad. The Weekly Standard devoted two articles to the issue, and even a Cleveland Browns fan site felt compelled to offer a comment.

In a way, all of this is a good sign for soccer, because a lot of people are watching and trying to get interested. But the World Cup is simply not delivering.


Anonymous said...

Play acting has always been an unfortunate part of the game (or the game at the more professional level). It is nice to see when players don't. If there is a foul, there is a foul and the ref will usually call it. There needs to be some sort of way to get cut this down.
However, as far as injuries and pulling people of the field with a stretchers goes, it has to do with the rules of the game. An NFL player, or player in really any other sport, can just come off the field for a few plays, etc and go back. In football or most other sports you can take a player off the field, substitute someone for them for a play or two if need be, and put the player back in. But you can't do that with soccer. I I don't know how familiar people are with the rules, but the stretcher is necessary sort of because of the differences in rules. In other sports the clock is stopped and you can take as much time as needed to check out if a player is alright while they are on the field and you can rotate players in and out. However, you can't in soccer. Really the reason is two fold. 1) In soccer the clock technically never stops. There is overage time for the stoppage, but to keep the halves from being excessivly long (45 minutes is long enough), the players are stretchered off the field in case of serious injury, are looked at, and then if okay, they go back in the game. This way, depending on the severity of the injury, very little time has to be added to the end of the half. (Side note, the referee is the only person with the actualy game clock, the clock in the corner of your screen is a reference) However, their team plays with 10 players (including the goaling) while they are on the sideline being looked at. 2)During a game (two(2) 45 minute halves) there are only three (3) substitutions allowed per team; not three per half, three per game. If a player comes off the field and some one goes in for them, they are done for the rest of the game; they cannot come back in as is the case with other sports. This is overlooked by everyone that doesn't know the rules of the game.

Is there too much play acting in soccer? Probably. Should something be done about it? Again, probably. I personally think some of it is to get a break in the game. Soccer is one of the few games/sports that doesn't have regular stoppage in play. It is pretty much continuous for 45+ minutes per half.

Hopefully (if you all weren't aware of those rules) this clears up at least the whole stretcher business.

-Marine II

Tom said...

We all get the rules. But they don't make grown men pretend to be hurt when they are not. It's got to be about 95% of the time that the players run back on the field 30 seconds after being carried off.

By the way, a blind monkey could see that they should stop the clock when someone is hurt. At the very least there should be a stoppage clock that adds up time for all to see whenever the game pauses for some ninny to roll around in agony. I bet that would solve a huge part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Well, Tom...You're a ninny, are you signing up for the job? ;) But, the whole point of not having someone in a booth controlling the clock is to keep the game flowing and going more quickly.

Also, I'm not saying it isn't rediculous the way they play act. It's a scar on the game for sure. The problem with stoppage or stopping the clock is that each ref has control over what they stop the clock for and how long. There are basic rules for stopping the clock, but what one ref stops his watch for, another may not, or at least for not as long.

But, getting back to the play acting, yes, it is stupid and pansy. But don't say it doesn't happen in other sports. Maybe not as blatent but it happens. I wouldn't say it happens very often in the NFL, maybe a few times a year, if that. But in the NBA it is more frequent. In soccer they are trying to get a yellow/red card, in basketball they are trying to get a technical. It happens in every sport, just more so in soccer.
Also, the ref usually doesn't stop the clock when some ninny/pansy rolls on the ground trying to get a card. FIFA does have to get tougher on that for sure, though.
But, I really don't think you can lump the guys getting pulled off on a stretcher and the guys that roll around like idiots and then get back up. They are two different scenarios that shouldn't get lumped together.

-Marine II

Tom said...

They are not different scenarios at all, they are just differences of degree. The general flops to draw calls are bad enough, but the fake injuries are revolting. Like I said, if you can name one instance when a player who got carried off on a stretcher did not return to the game, I can name at least nine when he did.

And please don't try to compare it to other sports. Basketball players who are known to flop to draw charges are almost universally reviled for it, like Bill Laimbeer and Vlade Divac. It doesn't matter that it goes on at some small level in every sport. In every other sport it is widely considered shameful and pathetic. In soccer it doesn't hurt your reputation at all. Soccer players have no shame, and that makes all the difference.

Trust me, you are arguing with the wrong guy. I want men's World Cup soccer not to suck, and sometimes it doesn't--the Spain-France game today was pretty darn good and clean. But that's only because it was tied for most of the game and neither team gained an advantage by stalling. Overall, this World cup has been a disaster for soccer in America, and it's their own damn fault.

Anonymous said...

Tom - you're a poopy head.
-Marine II

jc said...

I think we can all agree that the low scoring potential in soccer makes it CRITICAL that one takes every opportunity one can to get a goal, any goal, as that goal will very often be the game winner...(although I do remember seeing that at one point in 2006 WC, that 4 of 9 penalty shots were blocked or missed...and we did see the Swiss LOSE a game because they couldn't make penalty shots (or R. Baggio in the Finals a few years ago???)

If you flop in basketball, you get what, one or maybe two points, if you make them (think hack-a-Shaq) In the NBA were ONE player often gets 30-40-50 points? In football, where you might get closer to the endzone?

In soccer (Ghana-US, Aussies-Italy) one fake flop or pansy play acting fake injury can and does LITERALLY decide the game, all one has to do is fake out some referee FIFA chooses more from a sense of global PC-ness than ability....

THAT is what is wrong with soccer, or at least FIFA soccer....

Having said that, I still have tried to watch every WC game I can, going back to the seventies....

and I hate soccer usually.....

dcat said...

I think we are conflating two issues here. One is the issue of flopping and bad refereeing -- and trust me, these questions are asked the world over, and the questions of refereeing in particular are a lot more salient in countries where the sports section has 20 articles on soccer every day.
The second issue, however, is whether "the World Cup is simply not delivering" which is utterly untrue. Despite refereeing issues, there have been several spectacular games, and on the whole everyone I have spoken to from countries with a serious passion for the sport have agreed that it has been an amazing tournament. I have watched almost every game (they are on in the evening in SA and were on at night in China) and despite the refereeing I have been amazed by the quality of play -- even the horrifically bad games have tended to be close.
But yes, there has to be something one can do to cut out the flopping. But I think that when guys have gone out on stretchers there have been some serious injuries -- let's not turn a good argument -- that flopping is bad and guys fake injuries to try to get an advantage -- into a bad one: that guys in soccer do not get hurt.