I have been thinking that I should write something that is at least mildly topical, so given I am now living in Europe, and I have a been since the beginning of the Football (or am I legally obligated to say FIFA) World Cup, I thought this is probably a good place to start.
Before I get right into this I should mention that I do quite like football. I will happily watch and enjoy any game. It's a great sport. I’m not a fanatic or anything, just a general everyday fan type person.
In saying that, watching the World Cup you can't help but notice problems. They aren't all problems that only football has, but since that's what I've been watching that's what I'll talk about.
So, from the top...
- England isn't even a real country.
I'm sure you thought my crack about England was going to be that they aren't even that good at football (compared to their peers), which also might be valid, but the bigger concern is that it's not a real place.
I completely understand that this also applies to things like Rugby as well, but that doesn't change the fact that England isn't a country. Why do World Cup's let England compete rather than the United Kingdom? And, why doesn't the United Kingdom want to compete together anyway? Wouldn't that help them by broadening the talent pool? Why do they split up for World Cup's but not the Olympics? Or, say, the United Nations?
I don't get it. It's a either a competition for countries, or it isn't?
(Fun fact, I do sort of get it, it's a FIFA thing right? A way to get more money and be more corrupt or something? Speaking of...)
- Fuck FIFA. I know this is nothing new, but they really are a pretty shameful organisation, aren't they?
I understand that any large organisation, operating as broadly as they try to, can't always control what people within do - but when was the last time FIFA did something that put them in a positive light?
Beyond the money and corruption issues that are apparently being protested pretty vigorously in Brazil (though news coverage of this seems to be pretty thin - I guess no one wants to piss of FIFA and risk not getting TV rights to games), the problems are the referees. I understand refereeing sport at any level sucks, but for refs to be so clearly supporting teams (see: Any game Brazil played before being eliminated) what are the audience meant to think?
The problem here is almost the way it was framed - the audience believed they were watching competitive games! If FIFA had just come out and told us we were watching The Globetrotters vs The Washington Generals it wouldn’t have been so hard to swallow. People like a spectacle, they like seeing people perform at their peak, they don’t like being lied to about it.
Sure, the refs are pressured by their bosses (FIFA), and also the threats of having their families murdered by rabid fans (and, you know, gangsters and drug deals), but there must be a way to get games called fairly.
- Speaking of the refs… football players are whiny little bitches that need to show a little bit of respect. I’m not talking about the diving, or people trying to milk free kicks anytime another player is within a few feet of them, I am talking about the yelling and abuse directed straight at the referees. I could be wrong but I don’t think a ref has ever overturned a call because someone went and yelled at them, so why do players insist on screaming at the ref any time a call goes against them?
It is more than just that the example being set for kids is horrible (look, I care about the kids now!), it is that it makes games unwatchable and it makes fans hate players more. Just get on with the game, bad calls happen, you have to deal with it.
I assume the problem comes from the amount players are paid vs the amounts refs are paid. Players have no respect for refs because they have no respect for anyone who doesn’t earn hundreds of thousands a week. Sure, that might not be true, but it does kind of feel true. And the solution isn’t paying refs a bunch more (though, I imagine that football like other sports does have a problem of getting good refs at the higher levels - I mean, who dreams of becoming a professional ref? Do people just love being abused for a job?), but probably FIFA telling refs to go a bit card happy when people yell at them.
Of course that can't happen, as then the fans lose (slow/cut up games, games without star players etc) and because fans aren’t rational they will blame the refs rather than the players (yes, that’s right, apparently people don’t pay to watch sports just to see high quality whistle blowing?).
Where was I going with this? I guess that it really sucks seeing millionaire sports stars yelling at people in high visibility shirts rather than playing sports.
- Back to Brazil for a minute - you don’t want to call the Neymar injury karma (because no one wants to see a superstar hurt/not playing in the world cup, and because no one wants to believe karma/fictitious-sky-people alter the outcomes of sporting events), but maybe at least the 7-1 grubbing by Germany is comeuppance for the favouritism they received during the earlier games?
Speaking of which - how weird is it support Germany in any event ever? I don’t want to keep bringing up the war, but, ah, wasn’t the France-Germany game… ah, forget it.
- Replays in football are totally broken.
OK, so, replays in football are at least slightly broken.
Sure, the game is great because it doesn’t stop. It is free flowing and things are constantly going on (or, building with potential for stuff to happen). But, there must be some way that you can show a replay of a shot, or a questionable offside/tackle/any interesting moment while the game is still playing. Can’t they do a lot of picture-in-picture stuff?
Maybe this does happen more in normal games (when broadcast rights/TV cameras are directly controlled by the same people commentating), but during the World Cup it has been annoying having something happen, then not getting to see it again for four minutes while nothing much else actually happens.
I was going to talk about injuries, concussions, and reviews of calls, but really none of that stuff is that important. The game is, and has been, great for years, but sometimes it is a good idea to fix obviously broken situations. We shouldn’t be forced into hating players and teams because they yell at refs, or because games get rigged, or because FIFA exists… but we kind of do, and that doesn’t seem like a good thing?