As a light summer rant, I want to talk about football.
My own interest has mostly revolved around other sports, but football is relatively hard to avoid, especially when living in England, like I was from the late 1990s onwards. So I tried to fit in. I went to the pub to watch Premier League games, I read up on it, I picked a team I pretended to support (Liverpool, in case anyone’s interested).
Then came the 2002 World Cup. I remember the game very well, although I can’t even recall who England was playing, which says something about how interesting it was. But as I was confessing to my housemate that the action looked a bit boring and I couldn’t understand why they kept insisting bringing the ball up the left side every time, the commentator mentioned casually that it was a very hot day and the left side of the field was the only one in the shade.
That was it for me.
You see, I could just about put up with the fact that it was all fundamentally dull and not much was ever happening. I could also put up with the annoying filming where these supposedly tough athletes went down screaming like a bunch of babies in situations where you could see they were hardly touched.* I could even put up with the inevitable penalty shootouts where the goalie always went in the opposite direction to the shot and the only way not to get it in was to be so incompetent as to actually miss the 7.3m x 2.4m goal. But I couldn’t put up with the fact that in the most important tournament in the world the English players’ primary interest was to stay in the shade. Nope, couldn’t put up with that, even if it was a REALLY HOT DAY.
So for a long time I gave up on football. Then I moved to France, and the French know how to watch sports, so I ended up being swept away by the exciting 2006 World Cup. I haven’t looked back since. The sport had taken a turn for the better and the Spanish domination that has installed itself in the last few years has been nothing but good. The game nowadays is fast, the passes short and skilled, there are goals and penalties, fast runs and hard tackles. There is still some cry-babying, but much less so, presumably because modern TV technology will swiftly reveal you for the idiot that you are if you do that.
So it is all for the better.
Well ... ALMOST all.
What I would like to know is this: Who on earth got the idea to ban the players from ripping off their shirt when they scored a goal??? There are so many more goals being scored now than there were 10-15 years ago. This would mean so many more opportunities to see all that ... toned, ... ripped, ... jubilation. *sigh* They were SO CLOSE to creating a truly crowd-friendly sport.
Being a true believer in democracy I suggest starting a petition on change.org for reversing the 2004 amendment to FIFA Law 12. Who’s with me?
*I dare anyone to try THAT in an ice hockey game ...