Yo, Gadgety. Of course I saw the Netherlands-Spain score. Six goals in one match. Zowie. But one high-scoring match does not mitigate the trend of soccer scornig to shrivel a little bit year-by-year as cowardly coaches stack up their defenses and frustrate the other team's gifted attackers.
Let's look back. In 1982, in the only double-figure scoring game in World Cup history, Hungary buried El Salvador, 10-1. That match, by itself, improved the overall goals-per-game average in the 1982 Cup from 2.64 to 2.81. But (like Netherlands 5, Spain 1) it was the exception that proves the rule. Since then, the goals-per game average has steadily diminished, to 2.71 in '94, to 2.50 in '02, and in the last two tournaments, 2.28 and 2.30. In sum, we've averaged the equivalent of a 1-1 tie in 128 games played in the last two World Cups.
I notice that no one has challenged my hypothesis that the absence of scoring frustrates soccer fans to the point of violence. Nor has anyone challenged the notion that more GO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-OALS! would make soccer more FU-U-U-U-U-U-UN.
One of my points is that the crooked fuddy-duddies of FIFA are ruining a "beautiful" game. Who stands with the fuddy-duddies, and who wants to set the players free?
Benj, I thought it would be "off-side" to join this fun, preferring to to limit comments to those posted after my three articles dealing with Goal-Line Technology. But your reminder about Hungary 10-El Salvador 1 and previous comments about FIFA's shocking administration of football reminded me that bribery and underhand deals are nothing new surrounding the 'beautiful game' . In the 1954 World Cup, in Switzerland, Hungary beat (then) West Germany 8:3 in the group stages, but lost to them in the finals 3:2 in a farcical match match that led to the disintegration of the best footbal team ever assembeld, led by the inspirational Ferenc Puskas. (Almost everyone knew, except FIFA, that most of the German players were on drugs).
This team was the first ever to beat England at Wembley - 6:3 in 1953. The following year they demolished them in Budapest 7:1 (I was there!!!!) . OK, I may be a little biased, but the tactics this Magyar teeam deployed from about 1950 on changed the face of football, mainly because they had two magnificent wingers (anyone remember Czibor?) who could dribble their way through any defence. All the players had remarkable ball control ,and attackedwith such verve and power that they could only be held by brute force and a much more defensive line up by the opposition. Those tactics are still with us.
John Walko, nice to hear your voice among all the cacophony I set off. Your reminiscences are those of a real sports fan, one who marks the passage of the seasons as much by whose playing what sport as by the falling of the leaves and the budding of the cherry blossoms. You are also among the few who acknowledged, even tangentially, the stasis, corruption and geriatric conservatism that infests FIFA and tarnishes the game's beauty. You and I could sit down — actually, we have — and discuss the long-delayed tweaks that would preserve soccer's beauty while giving the fans a few more moments of actual celebration along the course of those 90-odd minutes. Go, Tottenham!
But a few notes. Someone wrote in saying: "Every match is not only about goals: It is about technical skills (different skills for different positions in the field), tactics, stamina, morale, concentration and luck." Well the exact same can be said for American football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, field hockey, cricket, snooker, kickball, marbles, tiddly-winks, pingpong, tennis, Australian rules football, boxing, wrestling, hurling, rugby, water polo, regular polo, lacrosse, poker, hopscotch and 43-man squamish (to name a few). To suggest that soccer — thanks to its intentionally engineered dearth of scoring — demonstrates these qualities better than all these other sports (oops, I left out sumo. Did I mention that my book, "SUMO: A Thinking Fan's Guide to Japan's National Sport," has been in print by Tuttle Publishing for almost 25 years?) is simply a confession that the writer knows too little about sports (or too much about only one sport) to comment intelligently on any sport.
Finally, this: I've been castigated at least a dozen times for calling soccer "soccer," and not football. I should note that "soccer football" was a common term, especially in the UK, until well into the last quarter of the 20th century, in order to distinguish it first from "rugby football" and then "American football." Indeed, "futbol" is the worldwide term for what Americans (and until recently Brits) call soccer. Any moron knows this. But in an American context (which includes EE Times), saying "football" when you mean soccer is a form of petty purism that can only sow confusion. Besides, harping on this quirk of semantics is just plain childish.
I agree with much of your premis although of course I respect those who enjoy it as it is. I played soccer (I live in America, give it a rest) as a youth, watched many years of pro soccer in the 70's (Earthquakes) - watch inernational today, was a referee, and played 20 years as an adult in both indoor and outdoor soccer teams - which gives my opionion no more weight than any other, but I add as background. I really don't get into the statistics and such, and enjoy PLAYING and even a good loss if beaten by better opponents - how do you ever get better without good competitors? I enjoy watching a good game, a good play, a good goal as I am sure most do.
For me professional sports are there for enjoyment and to hopefully showcase the best of the sport and inspire children to play and enjoy the sport too. Recently with all the hype and statistics fewer are part of the game personally, but more into stats, teams and politics - a loss in my eyes.
Regarding rules - I would personally like to see the off-sides moved to 3/4 field (similar to the author) to allow for more goals. I would also like to see more substitutions as we all know that 90min at full pace is not possible which means you have to manage your pace, but we don't need a subbing war to slow the game down as happens in recreational soccer - I enjoy the speed and all out mayhem of indoor soccer in which your substitutions are like hockey - on the fly and you go in and out - 5 min even for pro's. I don't want this for outdoor, but somewhere between would be a good change - the soccer pitch is huge, and I would like to seem more activity rather then young men throttled to be able to keep their legs no matter how long the game will be - 90 minutes in most cases, or 30 min longer. 3 substitutions is just too few.
My last argument is against the low scores and statistics. First, there is luck in any sport or human endeavor. Because the game allows defense and bagging it is possible that a lower quality team can score and then play defense to win a match. The fewer the goals the larger the chance that luck is involved or decides a match. Luck may give you one goal, but two goals is a much, much smaller, and three is really beyond chance.
Food for thought, cricket has one day, and even short form instead of the multi day test matches - I think soccer can handle a bit of change which would be good for all - in MY opinion, and in my enjoyment as if recreational soccer only allowed three substitutions few would play.
Thanks for all the conversations - it's great to see divers opinions on something I enjoy so much.
@fandres17: Please do not use the therm Americans to make reference of people of United States, America is a whole continent.
Actually, the whole definition of what is a continent is a but "fluffy" -- check out this Wikipedia page -- depending how you count them there are 4, 5, 6, or 7 continents (and there are two different versions of 6 continents) LOL
In none of the definitions you found America is equal to United States. The problem is that using the word America for your country, you are denying the existence of the rest of the countries; so I am sure it is not so difficult to change the word.
"I say this despite a fair knowledge of soccer. "
"...after two brief over times"
It's not soccer, its football.
And whatever you want to call it, nobody calls "extra time", "overtime"
I think its best we leave your expertise there.
Soccer it may not be the best game to watch, but honestly much better than many sports that is common in America. as you see many sports have time out. The reason is the TV channles want to broadcast advertisements and make money. The first year that I watched Super Bowls I was surprised. IS it a sport or a show??!
BTW, American footbal is a very funny game for me or a person who watches it for the first few times. There are bunch of Buffalos stacking up and someone sneaks the ball and passes it and they make a score of 6!! After that, the winner team have a penalty which is always on target. the funny look goal is so big and everyone can score that penalty. I don't know what is the goal of that penalty and why it has 6 points! and the most common question is why it is called footbal
@amir.alavi: American footbal is a very funny game for me or a person who watches it for the first few times.
If you think American football is funny, you should see "Australian Rules Foorball" -- it's an elyptical field -- three goals at each end -- and the funny thing is that there don't seem to be any rules LOL
Max the Magnificent. Very few of us are still alve who remember 43-man squamish. Bless you. In high school, a few friends and I did everything we could to play 43-man-squamish, but we needed 86 players to even THINK about getting up a game. A brifge too far...
Amir. I agree with your perception of American football. At fitst glance, it much harder to understand than soccer. In fact, in my just released novel, "A Sunday Kind of Love" (www.createspace.com/4795443), I describe the bewilderment of the neophyte fan trying to grasp the tangle of bodies and the long delays in the action. Indeed, no sport is easy to grasp in the beginning, and one of every sport's joys is the development of a personal expertise (often referred to generically as "inside baseball). Soccer fans enjoy this same pleasure. My point about soccer is not that it's not popular, not fun to play, not a worthy sport. My point is that it could be better if it were govered more by common sense and by the players, rather than by a corrupt elite more interested in their own prestige than "love of the game." David Benjamin
Really, arguing semantics is the best way to wast time and not address the argument. Nothing is perfect, all things change over time. There ARE bad suggestions (sorry mom), but really, some points are valid.
@Webby81.... " I don't come to EETIMES for this, I have pleanty of other BLOG's to read."
Click your BACK button and you can get back to them. This article has, when I looked at it, 21 comments, if I'd written it I'd be fairly happy with that..... There are obviously a few engineers who enjoy or at least have an opinion on Soccer...
Someone asked why this discussion is taking place on EETimes.
Ok, here's an EETimes take:
Football/Soccer/Futbol scoreboards are the most energy-efficient
fewest pixels needed, and
lowest rate of flip-flop toggling to drive those pixels
(And now, I retreat with my flame-retardent suit, where I will no doubt be characterized as "another American who does not understand football", even though I am not; somehow these conversations always end that way!)
@Rishiyur.Nikhil, ha ha. I like it. I think you're on to something: you never know what ideas are going to come up when you through a seemingly unrelated, non-engineering subject in front of a bunch of engineers. As a crowd, you're actually a creative group.
We did post a series of World Cup tech stories last month and they didn't get much attention at the time. (Now you see we're resurfacing the stories.) Maybe it was the timing but I concluded it was because Americans don't like futbol/soccer/football -- whatever you want to call it. I wanted to know why it wasn't compelling -- even though America is full of kids and families that love soccer -- so we grabbed the nearest most eloquent and opininated American we could find to put the problem out there.
oh and I have to say because of the World Cup tech stories I've read on EE Times, I've watched some of the games and saw the first use of goalline tech. Not much to see with when it happened. But that's the point: no arguing ensued. How much you want to bet someone will hack that goalline tech to his team's benefit? NOw that's a soccer geek.
Tangey. Your comment disparaging my soccer knowledge over the issue of "extra time" vs. "overtime," is a matter of tomayto/tomahto niggling, the sort of petty swipe that identifies you as not a sports fan but as a sort of soccer nationalist pitting the ony spirt you really know against all the sports you've ignored all your life. Please note that I understad soccer, or, if you prefer, "futbol," well enough to know where its flaws lie, how it is corrupt, what rules changes would improve the sport and WHY it's so incredibly dull to watch UNLESS you've been watching it all your ife because TV in Europe, South America and much of Asia only broadcasts one sport -- soccer! In America, we have a variety of sports on television, including soccer, and we usually choose something — anything — else. Benjamin
As a European I find [American] football dull. Within a minute the game is halted.
You don't need to be a European to hold this view. As an American who's spent a considerable amount of time and money over the last 25 years watching Football, playing Fantasy Football (obsessing, maybe), reading about my favorite team daily, buying the swill beer they pitch at me, etc., I now find myself on a two step program to wean myself off of Football. A sort of self-imposed Football-rehab, if you will. Step one: stop all that crap, step two: enjoy life more.
So, what prompted this epiphany? Well, exactly what you site: stoppage. There is WAY too much of it and the game simply isn't any fun anymore! Business-first owners are killing the game and insufferable, spineless pukes like Roger Goodell are accelerating that demise.
But I'm sure better writers like Mr. Benjamin have covered that subject much more eloquently.
This blog is more exciting than any soccer game I ever watched.
To be fair I have only tried to watch a few but they just didn't hold my attention.
I am in Greece watching people in cafes watch the World Cup and trying to watch myself. Their home team lost yesterday in I think a 2-0 match to Columbia. Must have been considered a wipe out. Boring!
My hat's off to the athleticism of the lean soccer players who run their buts off while most of our stocky football players just smash into each other repeatedly. I guess they kill themselves for our benefit so we can go home quietly--the modern equivalent of sacrifical lambs ;-)
I think this is a cultural thing. I would quite literally prefer to watch paint dry than watch American football and the verbal diarrhea from the commentators is worse than toothache. If you want a blow by blow account of the match, in the UK, listen to the radio commentary; if you want to watch the match watch it on television.
There are dull matches however, in most matches, everytime the ball gets into the penalty area there is the chance the ball will go in the net. A battle of minds between the defender and striker. This is good in premier league and at it's best in the world cup. Your local Sunday league game does not quite reach the same level of artistry.
Whether it is being British, but the only thing which annoys me is the deliberate cheating (handball, deliberate fouls).
@pd99: I think this is a cultural thing. I would quite literally prefer to watch paint dry than watch American football...
I'm from the UK -- I moved to the USA 24 years ago -- over the years I've actually grown to enjoy American Football -- I'm not a rabid fan (and I usually don't really understand some of the more complicated rules -- "if the wind is coming from the west and the man with the tight-end is standing on one leg, then...") but I do quite enjoy watching it with my 19-year-old son.
As an American who really enjoys FOOTBALL, I've always wondered why I am in the minority about the beautiful game. It wasn't until this World Cup tourney that I figured it out:
If Americans can't be the best at something right out of the gate, then it isn't worth caring about. The reality is that Americans suck at the game. They get their butts handed to them by Third-world countries on the international scene. I have a hard time watching an MLS match because of the slowness and incompetence of the play, even compared to the Scottish Professional Football League play.
There are other examples. Curiling is denirated during the Olympics regularly. Rugby has virtually no place in the sports world discussion. Even the most exciting and brutal sport in the world, Ireland's Hurling, is given no coverage at all. And if you want a sport with rapid scoring, that's the game for you. But again, Americans suck at it.
Eventually, The US will field a team that will be mediocre enough to capture national attention, but until then, I don't expect much.
@lcovey: If Americans can't be the best at something right out of the gate, then it isn't worth caring about.
One thing I've noticed since I moved to America is that there has to be a winner. Americans simply cannot wrap their brains around a game like cricket that can go on for days (or weeks) and then end in a draw :-)
Icovey, I beg to differ. Stand outside any bar near any university campus in America for a while, especially near closing time, and I defy you to reiterate your preposterous assertion that Americans are no good at hurling!
@David Benjamin: Stand outside any bar near any university campus in America for a while, especially near closing time, and I defy you to reiterate your preposterous assertion that Americans are no good at hurling!
I disagree. Even if or when the U.S. fields a team that is good enough to make it all the way, Americans for the most part still will not pay attention to soccer, even during the World Cup. I'm not sure it's really a cultural difference as much as it is simply history. We didn't adopt soccer ("football" to the rest of the world) long ago as a top professional sport and instead came up with American football. It's what we are accustomed to, it's the brand of "football" that attracts our best athletes, pays the top salaries & gets the most media attention & TV ad revenue.
Against that backdrop, it's difficult to imagine soccer ever becoming anywhere near as popular in the U.S. as American football.
It's not necessary for it to become more popular than American football. I noted that last year, US Hockey surpassed the basketball as the third most popular sport, yet hockey struggles to win the same kind of television contracts that the NBA gets. Those same surveys shows US soccer to be more popular than professional tennis, golf, wrestling and motor sports, all of which get more coverage.
It is conventional media wisdom that soccer will never be popular, and, as usual, that wisdom is wrong.
Soccer is by far the largest sport in the world...nothing comes close...the author of the article doesn't seem to understand anything about it...billions of people watching and billions of dollars spent on organizing the cup provide the simplest proof of its popularity...if you don't like just don't watch it...Kris
@Icovey Then, like me, you must find it quite ironic that at the grade school, high school and even college level soccer is actually a rather popular sport here in America, no? No kid that I knew ever endured the scorn of peers for saying "I'm going out for the soccer team". In fact it was quite the opposite. In my high-school, where there was no football because we were small and cheap, all the jocks and cool kids played soccer. In other schools that had football, soccer was still very popular. If a kid said he was going to college on a soccer scholarship it wasn't earthshattering news.
My point is that there is no dearth of tallent and experience in the young here in America, so it's utterly incredible to me just how much of a cliff of interest there is after college and beyond and thus our permanent lack of placement in this tournement.
I have to profoundly disagree about the relative "fun" of watching global football vs US football, David B., although I'm doing this from a point of view that watching any pro sports is a crashing bore.
Soccer is constant action, just as ice hockey is. And it's low scoring, also much like hockey. This compares with the customary trio that US fans find most appealing: US football, basketball, and baseball, where the majority of time, NOTHING is happening on the field or court.
Imagine any game that can last more than 3 hours, with barely one hour's worth of play. And worse, the closer you get to that most-anticipated end of this torture, the more frequent are the interruptions!
As I said, it's a matter of taste.
Oh, I have a suggestion about the low scores. Take a lesson from US football. Give every goal 6 points instead of one! Problem solved!
I have to agree. US football has an average total amount of 12 minutes of action in every 60. The rest is counting off yards, determining where to place the ball, and then waiting 20 seconds (average) for the ball to be snapped. Since the average number of plays in an NFL game is around 130, that 43 minutes, alone of waithing for the snap. Talk about excitement.
In the US we have the World Series, where anyone from anywhere in the world can play for any team. In this so called 'World' Cup, some of the best players in the world have been excluded because they have the wrong nationality. Face it a kid from Bora Bora or some other tiny nation has a better shot of someday pitching for the New York Yankees than playing in the World Cup. They should call it the Nationalistic Tribal Stupidity Cup, because that is what it is all about. Whipping up the same emotions that have people shooting at each other all over the world. Get nationalism out of sports, art and science.
@Max It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue ... back to the drawing board...
And We should stop calling it Soccer and start calling it No Hands Ball. Stop all that whining about 'you should call soccer, football and call football something else nonsense. Last I checked you needed feet to play football.
Here in England this World Cup is generally acknowledged as one of the best and most exciting for a long time (even though our team is not doing well) and if you are not enjoying it then that's your loss. As for your stats about declining numbers of goals, you can't compare figures from decades ago when the game was played quite differently. But the small decline in goals scored in the last twenty years actually represents progress. It's because there are no really weak teams in the tournament which means no mismatches and hence no huge scores. A 3-2 scoreline usually means a very good game but 9-0 doesn't, who wants to watch a game where the result is not in any doubt? This year's tournament is so compelling because we really don't have much idea who will win and even these early games are very hard to predict.
More generally, football (soccer) fans don't have a problem with the number of goals scored in a typical game of football. There is nothing that needs fixing here.
I couldn't agree more. This is so far a ***great*** world cup with very enjoyable games. So far the best I've seen since France 98.
Football (Soccer) is one of the best sports to watch BECAUSE of the low scoring, among other reasons. In the most competitve matches (like the world cup) no result can be taken for granted since a single goal changes everything.
Every match is not only about goals: It is about technical skills (different skills for different positions in the field), tactics, stamina, morale, concentration and luck.
While a 10-1 game might be grat for a fan, is definitely boring for the neutral watcher (just as Chrisw270 stated) because that game is extremely uneven. A 8-8 match could only be possible with amateur (or plain awful) teams. A 1-1 can be an awesome match... In conclusion, you can't use number of goals as a figure of gameplay quality.
Ok....I enjoy playing and watching Football (Soccer if you're American...Football if you're from anywhere else ) I really do. I also enjoy watching Basketball and Hockey (I'm Canadian). But I don't go crazy over watching Sports. I don't expect them to be spectacular....I accept them and love them for what they are...... Heck I don't even really watch more than a few games a year.......I have other things that I do with my life.
This obsession that some people have with watching sports..where they support their team religiously is ridiculous. It speaks volumes about our culture when we spend more time watching sports than doing more important things.....things like 'critical thinking, reading, interacting with people in a more meaningful way than cheering some sports team while partially drunk.....and yes even PLAYING the sport. Remember sports are really supposed to be played....the watching sports thing is nice, but let's not go nuts over it
As I get older, I've become very selective about what I watch on TV period. I 'try' to watch shows that engage my mind, that tell a good story and that have at least some moral values.
I know that this might perceived as 'lame' by some....but remember.....you are what you watch.
@Benjamin, all the reasons you laid out to show that Football is dull, is precisely why the rest of the world love it. Personally, I do not want anything to change and I am not happy with the way things are going: cooling breaks?? what's next? Half-time entertainment?? God help us...
I used to get bored with football earlier but with the improved technique of Television broadcasting , I have started enjoying watching this game ( off course only on TV).
One of things I like about football is your attention is all on action and not on score, unlike cricket or any other game such as basketball or tennis where the score keeps ticking every second , and you are more occupied by looking at the statistics than the actual game.
That way I would say football is Analog vs the other games which are Digital. That is why in Football only the Goal counts and not the intermediate steps (like the no of balls bowled or no of runs scored in cricket)
And, that uncertainty , that the goal can be made even in the last second of the match keeps your eyes fixed to the TV for all those 90 or sometimes 120 minutes of play.
To me this is probably the only game where , apart from the ball , no other accessories are used - no helmets, no gloves, no pads, no bats. Just the ball and how you can manuver it with your foot!
Than you for your insights - and I agree although many sports have benefitted by better coverage - and the HD video is increidble.
I haden't necessarily thought about the "accessories" side of things, but you are right. I always think about the performance verse endurance aspect such as a baseball player is helped by being in shape, but it is not demanded as is the same for football and other sports which rely heavily on equipment and quick plays and of course teamwork. Bicycling, Soccer and many other sports demand endurance and performance as well as teamwork - while I respect almost all sports the endurance and personal training and pain endured by bicyclists and runners is incredible - we just need to give them bats or balls to make it more "interesting"...
Also, usually not liking or respecting any sport is more ignorance or prejudice then anthing else as the top athletes of anything have to be somewhate interesting - or they would be beat.