Unless you have been living under a rock that last few weeks, you probably knew that the World Cup of Soccer had been going on. Unfortunately for Barbie and I, it came a year to late as it is being hosted by Germany this year, so that would have been fun to be there for that. To give you an idea just how many people watch this, take this into consideration. Last year, the Superbowl, which is considered the most watched event in the US got approximately 100 million viewers. Now, during the selection of the World Cup teams, i.e. the drawing to determine which groups they were going to be assigned, the World Cup had 325 million viewers! And to top that, during the finals of the World Cup back in 2002, they had an estimated 1.1 billions viewers, 11 times that of the Superbowl.
So, now that you understand the importance of the tournament, and what a grand stage this is, you would think everything about the game itself would be at the highest level possible. Well, I personally think the entire soccer world should be ashamed of the events that unfolded. We all know that in every sport, people are going to make mistakes, or try to get calls from referees, etc., but in soccer, it is bordering on comedy. Players fall, scream, grab their ankle, get taken off by a stretcher, then the replay comes in and shows they weren't even touched! Of course the referees fall for it over and over, so the players keep doing it. I saw at least 2 or 3 games where one of these catastrophies happened "in the box," which means in the goalie box and will result in a penalty kick for the other team, which results in a goal probably 85-90% of the time. So, if you are the referee, you should be 100% certain there was a foul to call something in the box. Heck, I even propose that all fouls in the box be "under review" just like in the NFL, because a goal is just so valuable. Australia was absolutely robbed against Italy b/c of a horrible call. If you are a soccer fan, and these are your heroes, I feel sorry for you.
Now, let me say that the semi-finals and finals matches had the best referees in there, and they didn't take anything from the players. Players were falling and flailing and complaining through the first 30 minutes of the game, but when they realized the ref wasn't buying it, they actually started to play normal. Kudos to those 3 referees.
Of course, we can't forget about the Final match between Italy and France. Great match all around, except for a bad call in the box which resulted in a penalty kick and goal for France (their only score), but the ref made up for it by not calling a legitimate foul in the 2nd half, so all is forgiven. Of course the highlight, or lowlight, depending on your view, was France's best player Zenadine Zidane head butting an Italian player in the chest for apparantely making some serious derogatory remarks about his mother or sister or wife (who knows). Either way, it was unbelievable that a guy who was going to retire, would have his career ending go from possibly winning a world cup to being ejected and watching his team lose on PKs (penalty kicks).
Finally, I will give a token nod to the USA, who managed to tie the champions Italy during their group play with a score of 1-1. Of course, Italy scored on themselves, but it is still a tie in the record books.
And to all my Italian friends...congratulations on winning the 2006 World Cup!Posted by Don at July 14, 2006 02:01 PM