I prefer cycling. At least they cheat in private.
As a cycling fan I'd like the UCI to ban cheats for life, without exception. FIFA should ban diving with one game and then season suspensions for a first and then second offense.
The best thing to come out of the FIFA Men's World Cup is this article from FiveThirtyEight. Lionel Messi is actually impossible.
this article from FiveThirtyEight
Some of the 538 stuff (such as the article linked above) on the FIFA WC is interesting and illuminating, but a lot of it is either maddening or unintentionally hilarious. All the number-crunching in the world can't hide the fact that the writers often don't get the point of football (or, one could argue, sport in general), particularly the drama and sheer randomness of it. Still, the award for the most pointlessly anorack piece of American writing on the FIFA WC goes to this this Grantland column on how the seedings for the WC should be "fixed", which totally ignores the fact that the FIFA WC has never really been about finding the best team in the world, but the best team in the tournament. Their obsession for the "right" results would also ignore the opportunity for upsets- of which there have been many.
I thought the Quarterfinals lacked the excitement and tension of the pool phases and the round of 16, and there is a sense that the mania of the early parts of the World Cup is now subsiding as sides "play to win". But this has been the best WC in ages, perhaps decades, in terms of the strength of the competition and football on display.
It will be a real shame if such an ugly and negative Brazil side win this tournament (who have actually played the least entertaining football of the eight sides remaining), and FIFA are still the most insanely corrupt and mafia-like sporting organisation on earth (they make the BCCI look like models of probity), but I've really enjoyed the football this time around. The All Whites dogged efforts (and Spain's occasional brilliance) aside, I couldn't say the same about 2010.
But isn't all the diving an attempt to get penalties? As soon as they realize that they have been pushed from behind, they must dive and land badly in order to win the penalty for their team, especially if they're within a fair shot of the opponent's goal. The only problem with diving like this is that they might actually injure themselves badly since obviously doing a roll out of the fall would imply that they dived on purpose. Right?
So, ummm.... what just happened? I suppose Brasil gets the dubious consolation of not losing as badly as North Korea against Portugal in 2010. I bet Scolari is packing his bags and scanning the airline timetables for the next flight to Argentina where he'll claim asylum. Dilma Roussef must be considering her options, too.... mobilise the army? Or fill the tanks on the presidential jet and fly as far as it will take her?
I completely forgot to check the timetable last night, so I only saw the last 15 minutes. It didn't look like Germany going all Sturm und Drang on Brasilian arse so much as seasoned pros versus rank amateurs.
Their obsession for the “right” results would also ignore the opportunity for upsets- of which there have been many.
One of the reasons football is so interesting is because it is the major sport in which the statistically weaker side is most likely to win. (Because of its low-scoring nature.)
I only saw the last 15 minutes. I
I only saw snatches of the first 20 - but after that, it felt like it'd be hard to watch any more. Brazilian fans in tears after 20 minutes.
I have all but given up watching football because of the diving. It's just so bad.
I'd like to see the refs go to a video replay for such things and start handing out yellow cards. I like rugby's approach to arguing with the ref also - back you go ten metres. Keep it up and I'll award a penalty. Love it.
Actually, speaking of the refs, it seems to me that rugby refs are a lot fitter. They keep up with the run of play a lot better and while in the old days I would have said football players run faster, these days I'm not so sure.
While we're fixing the world, can we PLEASE stop penalty shootouts. Might as well toss a coin for the winner. Find some other way of doing it. Any other way.
I agree with you on this, Paul. It is kind of demeaning to conclude a game after kicking a ball around for 90 minutes, then another 30 minutes, for no conclusive score--then decide it all on whether two men prevent the ball entering the net. I read once that soccer goals should be smaller, to account for the bigger bulk of today's players (including goalies). Rugby is definitely a more satisfying spectator sport.
In other news, "Greymouth warns the Kaiser ... " ;)
Why would you want to get rid of penalty shootouts? If you can't separate the teams on the field then you separate them on nerve. It is not about luck. Either you cope with the pressure of the shootout or you don't. It may be cruel but is fair.
cruel but […] fair
Not really fair to the teams as a whole, though, to reduce the competition to a striker vs. a goalkeeper.
soccer goals should be smaller, to account for the bigger bulk of today’s players
Shouldn’t goals should be larger for larger goalies? (Cf. Terry Pratchett’s take on the game in Unseen Academicals, featuring an orangutan and the winner of a pie-eating competition, both selected as goalies for their ability to reach both posts without moving from the centre.)
Oops ... That is what I intended to write. Larger goals.
I've never thought the problem with football was the size of the nets. More that games have so few shots on goal - sometimes low single figures. If they could find a way to change the games so that there were more shots, and therefore more on net, you would get more goals and therefore less likely to end up going to penalties.
Do away with the goalkeeper position and reduce the height of the goals to 1m ?