Friday, June 25, 2010


In this blog a few weeks ago, I made a terribly inflammatory comment. No, it wasn't a big I TOLD YOU SO about Obama (I've been restrained...but even I am ready to buy a Hillary 2012 bumper sticker right now)...But I digress...

Prior to the start of the World Cup, I made a comment that I'd pick Italy to win over the USA if it came down to a head to head because not as many Americans care about soccer and a win would matter more to Italy. Boy, was I wrong - see "World's Reaction to Donavon's Goal" here.  And I did realize my mistake before Italy was bounced home in the first round after some lazy and soulless play. 

In my defense, I've been invested longer than most new soccer fans. I've suffered at the hands of our national team for decades. So if I lost faith it is cause I have shared in the ups and more of the downs. But I will never stray again. 

For the uninitiated, this is the World Cup FINALS. Which means this month of games is actually the culmination of a 3 YEAR worldwide tournament of 204 countries. The UN has 192 countries. The USA is one of the remaining 16 out of 204.  Dear World, We have arrived. Take us seriously now. 

Even if they go home tomorrow, they've done a great job for the credibility of the sport in the USA and finally giving US soccer respect on the world stage. We aren't a joke anymore. Our players play in the English Premier League, we won our group, WON OUR GROUP, at the World Cup. 

And while our new generation of soccer fans don't really get the game (what, no instant replay?) - we are, for now, a soccer nation. We may never reach the fervor that every other country in the world has for soccer (For example, Italy has 4 national newspapers devoted solely to soccer) but we will support our national team every 4 years.  

And just a quick primer for the newly initiated - soccer doesn't have rules. It has laws. And referees are like Supreme Court justices and can interpret the laws differently which is why we have one guy with a whistle and some other assistants who can offer opinions but still be overruled by the guy with whistle. Now  this doesn't excuse our Malian friend who blew the call but it should be noted that the sport cannot sustain instant replay or the matches would go on for 4 days. 

I refereed my share of games. Its the worst and most stressful job. Basically beyond enforcing the technical laws about yardages for free kicks etc a soccer ref job can be summed up by the following: 

1. Make sure the player isn't prevented from having a fair play on the ball
2. Make sure players don't kill or wound each other

The ref also has the responsibility to call  "Advantage" -  which means that even if a player gets clobbered, as long as his team keeps advantage the ref will not stop the game until the play is over. Though he can go back and punish the offending player after the next whistle. The point is to not let dirty play affect a teams progress. Unless you are Slovenia apparently, when you can hump and hug the opposing team at will without even asking for their number first. 

Finally, there is the offside call which is best explained in this scene from Bend it Like Beckham
"The offside rule is when the French mustard has to be between the teriyaki sauce and the sea salt..." 
but since I can't find the clip online to post, this video is a great explanation:

In sum, go get 'em tomorrow boys. USA USA USA!

No comments:

Post a Comment