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7/13/2010

Post World Cup

When the World Cup finals start, 32 teams out of more than 200 National Teams have made it through qualifying rounds to get to that final 32. Each of them feels they have legitimate possibilities. Each of them hopes to get to the Championship Game - each of them feels they have a chance. After all, they've made it through Qualifying. They are among the 32 best teams in the world.

Truth is, out of those 32 teams perhaps 10 have a real shot at the title. Going into the games, Spain was ranked #1 in the world - The Netherlands was ranked #4. Whichever of those two that was destined to win would be a first time winner - there are only two other teams that have won the World Cup once - England and France. The other 16 World Cups have been won by an exclusive group of 6 teams. It is very hard to rise from the 'minnows' to the 'sharks'. Three out of 19 have done it.

Early on in the World Cup, I saw and recognized, in the German team, the kind of youth, quality and imagination it would take to win the Cup. But the Germans lost their bid to be in that final game NOT in the semi-finals, where they lost to Spain and qualified for the consolation (or Third Place) game, but in the previous game - in the quarter finals, when Muller got a yellow card for the second game in a row, which caused him to be suspended for the semi-final game - the one they lost to Spain. Youth is not only speed and stamina and imagination, it is also inexperience. And, sometimes, carelessness.

That final game SHOULD have been Germany against Netherlands - and but for a single yellow card, I think it would have been.

The reason I say all this is because the final game, the Championship Game, was a horror. Spain won a game that was remarkable for its brutality, for its physicality, for its lack of flow and symmetry. The Netherlands played the game like a group of thugs, and in doing so, gave Soccer a black eye that it will take a long time to recover from - especially here in the States, where Soccer still has trouble gaining the respect and mindshare of the other sports we, as Americans, are so devoted to. If the Germans had played in that final against The Netherlands, I'm not so sure the Dutch could have played the same game against the them that they imposed on the Spanish. I think it would have been a better game. And I think Soccer would be better for the game having been played by a team able to adapt to the thuggery of the Dutch. But, as they say, it was not to be.

I have coached youth soccer. I have been a licensed FIFA referee. I know the rules, I understand the game, and I love the game when it is well played. That is why the World Cup final was such a major disappointment to me - and it's why I hope that those of you who might have watched your very first Soccer game as the Final was played will understand that what you saw was not good soccer. Don't judge all of soccer by what you saw. It's really better than that.

Ndinombethe.

5 comments:

Nan Sheppard said...

Uh-oh, you've got spam there...

Early on in the match, we all started rooting for Spain because of the rough play. It was NOT a pretty match, but Finals are often a bit desperate. We were glad when it was over.

I hope Grannie is okay! Crossing my fingers for her.

Shadow said...

GREAT great post. i'm in total agreement. the final was.... just such a let-down. not what i would associate with the class and style and sportsmanship i have always associated with the soccer world cup.

Casdok said...

I was hoping my son would get into watching football as staff would no doubt be watching - it didnt happen!!!

Grandmother said...

So true! 9 cards- isn't that a record? We were rooting for Germany too and they were doing great. We made sure we were able to watch the final even on vacation in the USA but didn't love it. It's a great game well played but this wasn't it.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

You're awesome, Lou. This is the best thing I've heard or read about the World Cup this year. And it's really like a life lesson too, isn't it?