While We Were Gone…The Haters Came Out In Force!

The Ugly AmericansHello, hello. It’s been a while.

It hasn’t been that we haven’t been watching the footy (we have). More that we were on semi-vacations across the board (along with some staffers being semi-homeless) and we just haven’t had much idle time with football and our internet connections.

I suppose it says something about me as a soccer fan, and especially an American soccer fan, that it took a crap article by some semi-literate blowhard in the Philly papers to get me back on Camena. Sigh. Perhaps that’s a conversation for another time. I guess I was just so shocked to read something like this; I thought the whole Jim Rome “Soccer sucks” things was a bit passe.

I guess not.

In case you’re not inclined to click through, Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues that soccer is really boring on TV. He appears to argue for more stoppages and commercials (so he can get another beer and make wee-wee), and to contend that the fans sing because the action on the field is so boring (and this in Philadelphia, one of the few American sports cities lucky enough to have a sports song — “Fly, Eagles, Fly” — to sing!). And it wasn’t like he was dissing on half-assed MLS; this was a World Cup semifinal!

I know. I know. Probably just some WIP-ish bombast. I should know better than to be annoyed. But I couldn’t help myself. I sent him a flame mail. I really don’t care that he doesn’t enjoy the footy on TV, but it’s kind of awkward (for him) to actually publish thoughts like those. Makes him sound, what’s the word I’m looking for, “not terribly bright.”

Also, isn’t there an impending TO tell-all book that he should be covering? Get on that, would ya, Frank?

For the neophyte, soccer on TV can be a real trial [Philly.com]

Que? Que? Si!

juanitolil_jonFor some reason, I have often been amused by translating foreign names into their English equivalents. When Juanito scored today to give Spain a 1-0 lead over Saudi Arabia, all I could think was, “What? What? Yeah!”

Arena Rocked

ArenaLed by former US MNTer Eric Wynalda, and including former US MNTer Marcelo Balboa, the ESPN crew is absolutely hammering Arena, and calling for his head (or for him to at least step aside) in the wake of the current US MNT’s disappointing World Cup finish.

For his part, in his post-game press conference Arena did his best to pawn off responsibility to the ref for calling the penalty and to FIFA for the draw that the US ended up with (both of which certainly did impact the team’s ultimate result – I am still pissed that we ended up in this group and Mexico had a relatively soft group).

Wynalda rips Reyna, does funny voices

ericw.jpgWell isn’t that Eric Wynalda just en fuego on ESPN’s World Cup Live studio show! Wynalda is championing the “USA is better off without Claudio Reyna” argument, which seems to be based on some spurious evidence (mostly because Reyna doesn’t play enough qualifiers against the low-end CONCACAF teams) and not the game we all watched earlier this week (take Reyna off the pitch and the number of players capable of possessing the ball for the US goes from 1 to 0). Said argument is also finding support among some of the lunatic fringe on BigSoccer.

I think said argument is nuts, but hey, at least Wynalda makes for some good television. Especially when he does things like “talk in the David Beckham voice,” which is “freakin’ hilarious.” (Kind of a high-pitched sqeaky thing.)

I’m just waiting for Julie Foudy to ask him how many World Cups he’s won.

Largest Producer Of Cocoa…

ivothing.jpgWe’ll be doing our best not to complain about the ABC/ ESPN coverage of the matches. We understand that part of the challenge of broadcasting the World Cup is making the tournament accessible to an audience that isn’t terribly knowledgeable about footy. That’s fine. Explain formations, break down the tactics, give us details on the rules.

But “explaining the rules” is different than “giving hamfisted summaries of geopolitics.” By this I mean please don’t flash graphics like the one they showed yesterday to introduce the Cote D’Ivoire side. After flashing the Cote D’Ivoire’s capital and population in a sidebar graphic, they gave us a second screen that matter-of-factly juxtaposed “Largest Producer of Cocoa, Currently In Civil War.”

I don’t think they were trying to be funny.

An Italian Refereeing Scandal? I Won’t Believe It!

Say it ain’t so! There’s finally a smoking gun in re: The Old Lady of Turin and “influencing” the Serie A refs? The conspiracy theorists have claimed for years (endlessly, with lots of video evidence) that Juve is often the recipient of favorable calls (especially well-timed penalties), and that a number of refs have long since been in the Agnelli family’s back pocket. And it looks like they might have some proof.

The worst part about this whole story is how unsurprising it actually is. That is, most tifosi of the Italian game will tell you that things get a bit dicey at the end of each season, especially with respect to promotion and relegation. Teams might pay other teams to lose? Well duh. It’s only us uppity and sanctimonious Americans who get scandalized by this sort of thing (see, The Miracle Of Castel Di Sangro).

I’m just happy to have something screwy going on in Italian football ahead of June 17. Implicate them all! Call the carabinieri!

Top clubs and ref in match-fixing probe [Soccernet]
Lo scandalo si allagra [Gazzetta Dello Sport]

Good Guys 1, Boring Milan 0

That's, like, another newspaper, like, in ItalianOpening leg results from the Champions League semifinals are looking good. It was lovely to see the Gooners hold serve at home, but positively delightful to see Barca snag the away goal at the San Siro, making Milan’s elimination all the more likely upon return to the Nou Camp (fingers crossed, knock on wood). Tough week for Don Berlusconi!

I don’t know why I’ve decided that Milan desperately need to lose, but they do. Were it not for the cowardice of Lyon in the last fifteen minutes of their quarterfinal second leg at the San Siro a couple weeks back, we wouldn’t even need to have this conversation. But since Milan poached a couple in the waning minutes (a TV show I’ve seen before), they’re through to the semis. For the love of all that is good and right with the footy, please don’t let them into the final! We’ve gotten rid of Juve; please, spare us any more Milan!

(Also, this is all a long way of saying that the best possible final involves Ronaldinho against Thierry Henry. Just like Nike likes it!)