UEFA Euro 2008

I have been always a football fan (and player when I was much younger), but in the last couple of years or so, I stopped watching games because I usually just fell asleep while watching them. Compared to other sports I like (cycling, basketball, motor racing, etc), I find football very boring, except for a few games once in a while. But for this Euro 2008 that finished yesterday, I decided to try watching first only the Spanish team games, and, if I didn’t fall asleep, maybe try with others. So I just watched the 3 Spain’s games in the 1st round, the 1/4 finals against Italy, and then the 2 semifinals and, yesterday, the final. I have to confess I really enjoyed those games, specially the 2 semifinals in general and the 2nd half of the Spain-Russia in particular.

But, even though I might be back into watching more football games in the upcoming season (at least until I fall asleep again :-) ), there are some things in football that I wanted changed many years ago and that, as I’ve witnessed during these last few weeks, haven’t changed yet:

  • First of all is the referees. As in all sports, they make mistakes, that’s normal, what’s not normal is that such mistakes can have such a huge impact on the final result (media here in Spain usually even have an alternative standing with the points lost/won by each team from referee’s mistakes). So, why the UEFA/FIFA or whatever don’t do as in other sports, where video replays are used when referees are not sure? Of course, I’m not saying the referee should stop the game to watch the replay for every doubtful play, as is done in some sports, but there could be a group of judges watching the game on TV, with special cameras, and just communicate via radio with the referee. Also, there could be more referees on the field, like in basketball, for instance, where there are 3 in a much smaller playing field. I’m starting to think nothing is done to fix this so as to allow the media to talk after the games about the referee’s mistakes, which is what the media do most of the week while waiting for the next game, at least here.
  • Lots of team play very deffensive, and that makes some games as boring as watching your hair grow. I used to like a lot football back in the days of Johann Cruyff’s FC Barcelona Dream Team. The best was Barcelona, playing very offensive, and so the rest of the teams copied the playing style, and it was very common to have very high results, like 7-3, 4-3, 5-4, etc, etc, which make the games, at least for me, very attractive to watch. So, why not do again like in other sports, where the rules are more dynamic, and are changed to cut the very defensive styles and make the game more offensive? That happened a few years ago, for instance, on the NBA, the scores were getting very low, so they added/changed a couple of rules to make the game more offensive. I would really like to have, in football, a much less restrictive off-side rule, there would be many more scores and make the games more attractive, since you can’t be too defensive if you are losing 2-0.
  • Spanish people got totally crazy last night, with lots of injured people and even one death in Madrid, as I’ve heard on the radio this morning. 2 years ago, the basketball team won the world championship, and, AFAIR, there were no problems, people went to receive the team to the airport and just cheered at them while they were driven across the city, so, why does this always happen around football? I guess it’s got nothing to do with the sport, just that it’s the most popular one around here and it attracts all kinds of weird people.

Anyway, congratulations to the Spanish team for this win, specially because this is the only thing that unifies Spaniards, the football national team. Before and after this Euro Cup, people did/will complain about the other regions’ people, and some did/will even say they don’t feel Spanish at all, but these days, with an European champion team, everyone likes Spain, yay for football nationalism! :-D

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12 Responses to “UEFA Euro 2008”

  1. gpoo says:

    > “since you can’t be too defensive if you are losing 2-0.”

    Yes, you can. During the final of America’s Cup (SouthAmerica) around 20 years ago, Chile was loosing against Uruguay (0-1), and Chile replaced a forward with a defense when 30 minutes were left.

  2. Replays aren’t practical in soccer except for did-it-cross-the-line decisions. Even if you use off-field officials (as in cricket) they need time to reach a decision. That’s not possible without changing how the game’s played, which no-one wants.

    North American sports are mostly pioneering the use of replays, but even there, in the one sport which has more or less continuous play, like soccer – that being ice hockey – replays are only used to review goals when it’s a close call what exactly happened to the puck. They can’t be used for any other kind of call.

  3. rodrigo says:

    Adam, then in football they could just do it for penalties, agressions, etc, which are just a few per game, or the line judges (or however you call them in English) could be like the “main” referee, being able to signal some fault or off-side without having to use a flag and hope for the referee to see it.

  4. UTP says:

    Well…I wouldnt agree about replays here as they would only slow down the game. Secondly, the true football fan wants to see some good football, some strategy and definitely some defense.

    The commercial elements wants goals but I think the majority of fans still want some good football to watch….

  5. alex says:

    Football rules are designed intentionally to be exactly the same for all football matches, so that nothing extremely expensive (such as replay capabilities) are needed.

    It would go against the spirit of the rules to have certain rules “optional”.

    I kinda agree…

  6. eelcoh says:

    What i would like to see though, is technical support for determining off side and whether the ball has crossed a line, or not. That would be really helpful.

    As for the mistakes, we should just accept the fact that there will never be a system that will be able to tell the difference between a foul and a dive. Even with replays it will be hard to determine that, so the replays will only result in more debate and, as a result, more delay.

    (And congrats to the Spanish team, it was a wonderful champion.)

  7. Congrats!!! Though I was supporting for Germany, Spain played really well and left no chance for Germany. Torres was just too fast to handle :)

  8. The line judges are now called assistant referees in England at least (formerly linesmen). At the higher reaches of the game their flags have a function which alerts the referee that the assistant referee has spotted an infringement. Presumably some kind of button/buzzer/vibrate function (so it’s not really a ‘hope the referee sees it). Has it ever been the case, the referee hasn’t seen a raised flag? There is also a 4th official but he’s not used for adjudicating things like penalties/goals etc.

    I’d have to disagree with most of your other points though. Over the course of a season typically referee decisions will even out. When playing competitive sport the participants will accept that this is the case – sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it doesn’t. In my opinion this is part of the drama of sport, even in Cup matches where a single decision can have a more dramatic influence. If you’re good enough, a wrong call shouldn’t affect the result. Even when it does, it gets passed into legend and just adds to the overall thrill of the game. Russian linesman, anyone?

    More goals doesn’t necessarily make for a more exciting game. And why should the art of good defending be sacrificed for introducing more attacking play? I personally find basketball a very boring and uninvolving sport – despite the high scores. I can certainly appreciate the athelticism of the players, but the game to me is just a constant procession of alternating scores. Obviously sometimes the sequence is broken to lead to a winner and loser. For me, anyway, more scores is not leading to a more exciting match.

    The Spanish went totally crazy after winning I suspect is not all that unexpected. Spain have consistently underperformed at World Cups and European Championships for as long as I can remember. They’ve always looked good, but always been found wanting towards the end of tournaments. This might mark their breakthrough. Football is the national sport in Spain – look at the followings of Barca and Real (there’s also quite a split in the fans judging by the flags on show). Winning at basketball will not have had the same resonance, either in the media, or with the average sports fan. A lot of shrugged shoulders and ‘so what’ I suspect will have been the general reaction.

  9. rodrigo says:

    Jonathan, in basketball, defense plays a very important role also, it’s not just a succession of scores broken once in a while. In fact, there are 1000s of different kinds of defenses in basketball, and good teams use lots of them in every single game, so it’s not that there is no defensive play. But the difference is that it’s easier to score, so even if you do great defenses (see the San Antonio Spurs on the NBA, or DKV Joventut on the ACB) you have still to score more than your opponent, which, even if you do a good defense, will score some points.

    I’m just asking for something similar in football, good defense, but good offensive play. There are games where one of the teams just lock up their goal, and just wait for the other team to make a mistake and score, to lock the goal again for the rest of the game. Sometimes it’s even the 2 teams who do that, which leads to the most boring sporting event you can watch. So, easier ways to score would remove that, you would need to defend a lot also, but you’ll need to score more than your opponent and it would make it almost impossible for teams to play for a 0-0 result.

  10. sabueso says:

    “Anyway, congratulations to the Spanish team for this win, specially because this is the only thing that unifies Spaniards”
    Cof..cof…thats…cof..not…cof cof…true…cof cof.. xDDDD

  11. I wouldn’t deny there are both defensive and offensive strategies in basketball – obviously a score in football is considerably more valuable than in basketball due to it’s relative rarity. Hence why an overtly defensive strategy can pay dividends, and I must admit that is part of the excitement/thrill of football to me. I’d be curious to know what the frequency of upsets is in basketball in comparison to football. I should think it’s more likely in football, due to the ability to ‘nick’ a goal and then defend that position is more possible than in basketball.

    I think that is one of the main draws of football; that despite having the ‘better’ team I’m not guaranteed that my chosen team will win. An example of this from last year in England would be Manchester City beating their more illustrious neighbours twice in the same season. And as another example, to keep with the Spanish theme… Northern Ireland beating Spain 3-2 in Belfast during the qualifiers to the Euro Championships.

    I’ll admit the defensive strategies can lead to 0-0 draws of negligible entertainment value, but doesn’t a guarantee of scores somewhat devalue the spectacle? Part of it surely must be the not knowing what’s coming next. As it is, my chosen sport is actually quite similar to football, but did away with the offside rule entirely and I haven’t played in a goalless draw in years without having scores in double figures either. The value of the clean sheet is preserved with an increase in scores.

  12. rodrigo says:

    Jonathan, I’m not really arguing for a guarantee of scores, but to “penalise” (or just make very hard to do by changing the rules) the ultra-defensive playing.

    Just so you know what I would really love from football, see this game:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZ-AjedNnAs

    it is the game I remember the most (can you guess I like Atlético de Madrid? :-) ), and there was a lot of defense, if not, the result would have been 17-16, given the ultra offensive play by both teams. If most football games were like that one, believe me that I would never fall asleep watching them :-)