Watching Champions League Final from Manchester: Soccer (football) is just as boring as ever
It’s the night of the heavily anticipated Man. U v. Chelsea Champions League Final from Moscow. I watched it tonight from a hotel bar which is filled with Man. U fans.
I had originally planned on perhaps heading to the city centre to watch the match. I was in Prague during the World Cup, and watching matches from Wenceslas Square was great fun. I still remember the pandemonium that broke out when the Zidane head-butt took place, and Italians exclaiming “Belissimo!!!” after the winning kick.
But there were no public broadcasts in Manchester because the government wouldn’t put up any screens for the final after rioting broke out before the last game when one of the screens malfunctioned. There were hundreds of arrests, countless damage to the city and a stabbing. And Man. U won that game…
I always thought one of the most idiotic sayings is that soccer fans riot and fight because they are so “passionate". Rubbish! The reason soccer fans are so insane is because the match itself is always so much of a yawner, the only way to make things interesting is to get wholly pissed and incite your own drama. It’s like drinking five martinis during a really boring date just to make the time go by faster. Football doesn’t have enough scoring and there are more dives and complaining to refs than if an NBA game had ten Manu Ginobli’s on the court.
The lack of soccer in the States always comes up in conversation when I’m overseas. One person I discussed it with during this trip was amazed to hear that for most Americans, soccer is the first sport they play. They thought no one played it to begin with, but at my school, it was practically mandatory to play on a rec team. The first time I took to the pitch was in first grade and the only exciting moment for me was the halftime oranges. I could never handle going so long without kicking the ball. There are too many players out there and there was always the kid who was bigger than all of the others who would ball hog and run through the entire team (to which I admit I’m still bitter about after being the runt for the better part of my childhood). I suppose that explains how I ended up as a goalie in hockey who always saw plenty of rubber and a golfer, where there is nowhere to hide.
Speaking of which, the Red Wings face off vs. the Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals this week, and I can guarantee more excitement in those games than another low-scoring snoozer like the Champions League Final. It’s already being dubbed as a “classic” by the broadcasters just because it went to kicks, which would be like calling a bill passed in the senate a great one because there was an excessive amount of filibustering. And kicks has to be the worst way to end a game possible. The ball is so close, you may as well blindfold the keeper. All luck, no skill determined the winner tonight. That’s not right.
On a side note, whenever I talk about “soccer” in the U.K., someone always corrects me, “Football, you mean?” Then how come there is a pre-game show on Sky Sports called “Soccer A.M."?
Whatever it’s called, I’m not interested.
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You say that you don't like football because there isn't enough scoring. That is an extremely typical analysis from an American and a statement that perpetuates the stereotype of American games needing to be millions of points. Well, let me make this simple - the beauty of a game does not lie in the amount of points a team scores. One simple factor like that cannot be used to judge a game. Instead you have to look a multitude of factors - teamwork, skill, strength, flair, creativity, formation, strategy, tactics, culture...I could go on. A fair and complete an analysis has to be more than just "not enough goals".
Finally, you state that the Man Utd-Chelsea game is already being dubbed as a classic because it went to penalties. I don't know where you got that nonsense from either. It's being billed a classic because of the overall quality of the game over the 120 minutes. And even then, I doubt that many would call it a classic. And finally, our game is called "Football" not soccer, because you Americans invented the word soccer, just like you changed every other English word. It's football because you play with your feet. Using your hands is illegal, yet in American football, it's a necessity, and playing with your feet is actually not very frequent. So you decide which sport is incorrectly titled. Yes, we do have a show called "Soccer AM" but that's to appeal to our international audience, namely Americans. We want you to engage in our sport and finally see what the rest of the world sees - the best game on the planet.
My beliefs about why Americans don't embrace football involve a number of reasons. But one of my main beliefs is that its got to do with advertising. This is something that a lot of Americans have told me as well - that football would never work in America because Americans couldn't tolerate 45 minutes of non-interrupted television without advertisement breaks, as seen in golf, basketball, baseball, hockey, American football and so on. This is an intelligent, evidence-based viewpoint. To say that "the [football] match itself is always so much of a yawner, the only way to make things interesting is to get wholly pissed and incite your own drama" is insulting and completely untrue. This is the sort of stupid generalisation that perpetuates those stereotypes which we're all keen to avoid. These are the statements that are giving Americans a bad name when in Europe when we talk about sporting differences.
Intelligent Chris Pap ... now that's intelligent ...
And Kiel you represent the average American about as well as Fabio.
A lot of us played Four Square and kick ball as kids too. Doesn't mean we want to watch it played by grownups either.
And Chris, as far as being "insulting and untrue" about fans getting drunk and rioting, when is the last time the president of the US came out and condemned sports fans actions like Brown just did with Manchester? There are riots in the stands and fan deaths consistently in soccer. That cannot be disputed. I also heard Man. U and Chelsea fans were blocked off from one another in the Moscow stadium and were even escorted out at separate times and entrances.
Believe it or not in this 'joke of a country' called America, we can wear a jersey to a sports game without fear of getting beat up (though, to be fair, a drunk baseball fan did just fall 150 feet to his death...but that's rare :-).
And Baldwin, hilarious comment about four square!!!
I don't know where you get your ideas about football, I really don't. To imply that English people can't wear a sports jersey in an English street without the fear of getting beaten up is taking your absurdity to a new low. This is simply untrue and I *plead* with you to do your research properly before stating such a thing. This is like me saying "that at least in England I can walk down a working-class street without getting someone having a gun in their pocket".
This would of course be an inflammatory statement based on zero evidence and lay stereotypical beliefs. So you tell me - are your purposively trying to, as Shanks put it, set back foreign relations by 100 years?
As for "riots and fan deaths in football consistently happening" - this is unfortunately again a simplistic and over-generalisation statement that serves to fit your stereotypes. Riots in England and most of modern-Europe is a thing of the past when the game was more passionate within working-class communities that unfortunately are generally more prone to alcoholism and petty violence. Today in English and most of Western countries, football is an affluent, middle-class game in which money dominates both on and off the field. All stadiums are now fully seated as 99% of professional clubs can now afford better facilities, including security and better stewarding. The only fan violence now unfortunately only occurs in Italy, where there is a large mafia, criminal culture connected to some parts of football. But even such occurrences are exceedingly low compared to what the media would have you believe. Therefore Brandon, before wholly concluding that fan violence and deaths are consistent in football, I suggest you take a closer look at the real facts, before you continuously apply your stereotypical beliefs based on anecdotal evidence that fit your pre-conceived ideas.
Another point: if I'm not mistaken, my main criticism of your article was not centered on this point anyway, so why you are referring specifically to this point strikes me a bit strange. My criticism actually focussed on your over-simplified and wholly subjective analysis that football is boring because there are not enough goals and your incorrect claim that the Man Utd-Chelsea game is being dubbed as a classic (which it is not) because it went to penalties. This is again a shameful example of somebody selectively taking information that slots into your pre-conceived stereotypes, even if the information is not entirely accurate.
My message to you Brandon is simple: You are a professional, yet you have analyzed football in extremely lay terms. If you're going to evaluate something, do it intelligently. Weigh up different facets of the game, look deeper into the meaning of things you 'hear', use facts, avoid stereotypes, and make some sort of intelligent, informed conclusion. If after you've weighed up everything, and you can provide compelling and thought-provoking analysis, while stating that you still think that football is not your thing, then fair enough.
My message to you Chris is this: you take informal blog posts entirely too seriously, especially given the fact this is a golf & travel site. My perspective in this blog comes as a traveler in a foreign country, trying to figure out what the fuss is all about and determining I just don't get it.