OUCH! My Ankle!

Not being much of a pro soccer fan, I have been surprised to find that the sport can be compelling, at least in stretches.  For example, the 30 minutes of overtime between Italy and Germany was quite exciting.

However, I think the sport should be ashamed at the state of affairs in its refereeing.  In any one game, you might see players rolling around on the ground faking injuries as many as 15 or 20 times.  It became a source of immense amusement for my son and I to see not only how much faking was going on, but how often the faking involved holding a body part that seemed unrelated to any contact  (e.g. holding their head as if they received a concussion when they were accidentally tripped).  If these were all real injuries, the field would look like Omaha beach by the end of the game.

Why do they do it?  Because the referees reward them for it, of course.  It was pretty clear that on many occasions acting and injury-faking turned accidental falls into penalties and minor penalties into yellow and red cards.  It's disgraceful.  I know refereeing is hard given the speed of today's athletes, but for god sakes soccer has got to be an order of magnitude easier to referee than say basketball or particularly American football. 

Even more, I wonder why fans tolerate the pretend injuries?  Can you imagine Pittsburgh Steelers fans fondly embracing a wide receiver that faked ankle injuries two or three times a game to try to get an interference call?

Most all the regulation goals in later games of the world cup have been
scored on penalty kicks.  It seems that the game has devolved into
lofting the ball into the box and then hoping to draw a penalty, sort
of like a hail Mary play at the end of a football game.  I would love
to see the game opened up a bit to allow more scoring of real goals in
regulation -- how about eliminating the offsides penalty?


  1. Ryan Cupples:

    Eliminating offsides would result in far too much "camping" per se in the opponents side. I think they would be better to follow your suggestion and not cave in so much to minor fouls. Frequently, a player will charge down the field blindly with no intention to shoot because he knows that he will either fall on his own accord or be tripped, and granted a foul or even a penalty shot (which is essentially a free goal). Soccer needs an injection opposite of the one given to the NHL and the game will be better for it.

  2. Geoff Stone:

    Yep I have always thought the Offside rule in football ( as soccer is rightly called) impinged upon player initiative and ingenuity. As soon as a striker breaks free of the defenders and outwits them, he is called back for having an unfair advantage!! Very european in its complexion!

  3. Paul:

    Eliminating the offside rule is just so... American. :-) The game is wonderful as it is.

    There is an issue with the state of officiating. FIFA has taken steps in the last 20 years to tighten the game up, and they went WAY too far. They need to let the players play.

    It used to be the game had to be settled via regular play - you kept playing 30 minute OTs until someone won (no sudden death, either), instead of the penalty kicks we have now. There were games that went on for more than a day!

  4. Highway:

    I think the offsides rule is fine the way it is, but I'm not a great big soccer fan. I WILL watch any sport, just about (even baseball if I'm really bored). The more unusual the sport, the more I'll watch it.

    I think soccer would be a lot less interesting if you just had guys cherry-picking around the goal the whole game. I think the offsides rule gives you a big opportunity to set up a play and execute it. It's not the offsides rule's fault that everyone just plays 'dump and chase'.

    It would be better if they cut down on the fakery. It's like a whole team of punters (American football, not British slang). Maybe another referee on the field would help, maybe not, but the dives do detract from the game.

  5. Jody:

    My suggestions: Decrease the size of the goal and eliminate the goalie (or at least eliminate the "hands position").

    That's what we do in pick-up games and it increases scoring (which decreases the incentive for flopping) and is quite a bit more fun to play than organized soccer.

  6. Dudley:

    If you eliminate the offsides rule, you'll get rid of one of the most exciting aspects of the game, the through ball. There'd likely be no more breakaways as teams now have great incentive to keep a defender(s) back at all times to prevent cherry picking. I suspect that over time the result would be a much more stagnant game as each team anchors players in certain spots on the field. The offside rule gives the defense some freedom to push forward and attack more.

    As for the flopping, FIFA need to disavow themselves of the attitude that what the official calls on the field is always correct. Instant replay is unpopular and would detract from the fluidity of the match. However, if FIFA sanctioned players (and officials) after the match based on video evidence, then the players would have less incentive to dive: flopping might earn your team a free kick, but it might also earn you a five match suspension.

    More than anything, Americans tend to struggle with the idea that it is "unmanly" to flop. It undoubtedly is. Unfortunately, so is losing.

  7. bird dog:

    haha....yeah, if I ruled the world, sports would be better. For example, I'd like to see one serve in tennis, instead of two. Two chances is pussy.
    And wood raquets, of course.