Haven’t watched all of the Football World Cup – there is too much of it, it is overshadowed by IOC-level misspending and corruption, and I have had other things to do, yard work and getting my knee scoped among those things.
But, there have been many moments of interest, albeit some of those have had negative impacts.
The abrupt demise of the Spanish Armada, which dominated most of the world for six years, was eventual, but the speed was unpredictable. Luiz Suarez’ psycho display was jarring, and tragic – he was probably the best player in the world this season up to that point – and despite the massive advantage European squads have in terms of gathering together for training the South and Central American teams were very competitive.
The biggest issue remains, however, and may permanently assign soccer to a minor sports identity in North America. Diving and whining are endemic to the game and there seems neither the will nor the way among the sports’ movers and shakers to even rein it in.
“Simulation,” as diving is called, is plainly cheating – attempting to deceive officials so as to gain an advantage – and it is rampant. It was almost funny to hear Arjen Robben, on of the most talented and deceitful of players, complaining about people. “giving him stick,” after he admitted to diving in an early game. Greece qualified on the result of an air tackle, and the list goes on and on.
There are a couple of obvious remedies, but FIFA will not adopt them. First, referees should signal, “play on,” every single time a player falls with his hands in the air seeking attention. Second, video should be used, in real time if possible, retroactively if necessary, to punish players who are seen diving.
The other big issue is the player gangs that attend every referee’s decision. It would seem simple to solve that – the official has an unlimited supply of cards. A simple, “go away,” and if that instruction is not followed, as many bookings as is required to make players obey the most basic of rules against, “showing dissent.”
The game can be beautiful, I am a lifelong fan, but it will never be considered a serious sport here in the land of hockey and football as long as playacting is a major part of the action.
• I think Germany is by far the strongest team in the tournament, but, Argentina is much better organized and has much more talent on defense than Brazil presented, as well as perhaps the best player in the world in Lionel Messi.
For all the flaws involved, it should be interesting Sunday.