Why the World Cup Blows!: FIFA

Posted: July 2, 2010 by The Bearded Guy in Korea, Soccer
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Reason to Watch

So before I get started, I have to give a little background. I had been really enjoying the country pride that Korea has and some exciting upsets, so my opinion of this whole soccer thing were beginning to change.  Before this year I wasn’t a soccer fan, but the World Cup obviously has another aspect that makes you watch -similar to speed skating in the Winter Olympics – you wouldn’t watch it any other time, but now when it’s the best in the world you go with it. There have still been so major flaws….

5) Anti-Climatic endings: fans do not seem to amp it up as it gets closer to half or the end of the game. Often the athletes seem inclined to accept the results at the three-minute mark, sometimes when it even means the difference between winning and tie.

4)… Speaking of ties. Why are they so satisfied to let games end this way? At least put on 15 to 20 minutes and see who can endure from there,  sudden death. Each team would probably have a possession or more, so sudden death should work. It works in hockey.

3) Unlike hockey though, there is a huge amount of faking or injuries, falls, etc. Especially, but not limited to, the European teams. This is not the players fault, FIFA has allowed this practice to become an effective method of gaining an advantage, its time for FIFA to pull in the reigns and force players to have some dignity on the field.

2) The lack of the worlds best athletes. If you tell me Kaka is…. you are highly confused. Just imagine how much damage someone like LeBron could do on the soccer field.

1) Explanation of calls on the field or off. I shouldn’t have to write this, really I shouldn’t. In what is the biggest global athletic event, in a globally televised game an official can make a call on the field without having to say who the foul is against is absurd. The official does not even have to write up a report on the game listing his calls. Other sports organization have offered explanations and sometimes even apologies for missed calls. Several at the highest levels use instant replay. I am not demanding instant replay, I am just pointing out the lack of accountability.  I can not speak of an agenda of an official, but it is possible, and without FIFA requiring explanations and justifications of calls, an official could fix the biggest tournament in the world. I want to see a Deadspin article with Donaghy breaking down the calls of the World Cup, instead of him telling me about the missed traveling violations in the final. Weird Tim, the NBA has not consistently called that in years, but I digress.

Anyways, none of these things are ground breaking.   They really would not change the game of soccer as seen on the field, the only one not easily solved is the athlete thing but I guess I can survive that, but it would make it a better game.  What do you think?

  1. Burndog says:

    Hello there,

    I don’t normally comment on things, but I think that I can help with some of your questions. I am guessing that you are North American? Just because you call it soccer a lot, and don’t seem to have watched a lot previous World Cups. Not a criticism. I will start with 5 and work back.

    5) I haven’t really noticed that. With the fans…I think that the vuvuzelas make it really difficult to know what the crowd is doing. As for the players…maybe they’re spent! I don’t know…like I said…I haven’t really noticed that.

    4) Have you watched any games since the end of the first round? They do have extra time and then penalties. They don’t in the first round because it’s a mini league of groups. There’s nothing wrong with having tied games either. You only earn one point for a draw…but three for a win….so why wouldn’t you try to win?

    3) I agree completely. It’s ugly and needs to be looked at. One of the biggest problems with it is that there are so many different styles of play…and some are more physical than others. So…some players aren’t used to contact and look to exploit it. Some refs are from leagues where players don’t make contact…so they are more prone to get sucked into fouls and frees when they perceive the slightest contact. It’s frustrating at times.

    2) That’s just your North American bias. It’s ridiculous to claim that footballers aren’t some of the world’s best athletes. Shit…I’m Australian…we have Aussie Rules football…now there are some athletes. Seriously though…Lionel Messi is a wonderful footballer and as talented a player in this generation…if you’d rather watch an athlete…watch athletics! This is football…these lads are the best football players on the planet! If LeBron could ‘do some damage ‘on the ‘soccer field’ then why doesn’t he? I mean nobody is stopping him!

    1) FIFA has a review system in place for officials, and officials are dismissed from the tournament if their performance is sub par. Each match official submits a full match review to FIFA after each game, and are reviewed by a refereeing panel each match. The head of FIFA has apologised for mistakes a few times this tournament already. Does ‘soccer’ need some sort of video assistance for offside and goal line decisions…I say yes…but the integrity of the referees is something that IS regulated.

    All in all…an interesting perspective. There’s this interesting thing where North Americans seem to feel like they can improve football…like there’s something wrong with it. At the same time…the English seem to really want Americans (in particular) to really like football. The problem is…football isn’t broken. It’s insanely popular throughout the world…and for that reason alone it shouldn’t be tinkered with to suit North American tastes! The English will never get their wish either…soccer will never be a big spectator sport in America…the homegrown sports are more closely aligned with that American sense of patriotism and I guess…much like Australian Rules…they are a more natural cultural fit than soccer.

    Hope you don’t mind my essay!



  2. Aidan says:

    I have to disagree with your second statement as well, claiming that American football players are the best athletes on the planet. I’m from South Africa and we play rugby which is, as Burndog pointed out, equally physically demanding.

    I do agree that some of the rules of soccer are broken though, and that management needs to stamp out the play-acting epidemic because it’s ruining a great game.

    All in all, I can understand where you’re coming from. If I was comparing rugby to another country’s national sport (like American football), I’d in all likelihood be just as disparaging.

    • Burndog says:

      Sorry for the double post!

      Now…with number 4…I never said anything about the ‘tradition of the game’. I just don’t see the problem with having ties in the group stages. i think that Americans like to have a winner and a loser…but sometimes a draw has much more drama than some arbitrary method designed to merely have a result. Penalty shootouts are a terrible way to decide the ‘better team’.

      With number 3…I wasn’t suggesting that LeBron seriusly play football…BUT…I must say…he would be rubbish at it. It’s extremely rare that somebody that tall and with his frame is any good at football (except as a goalkeeper…he would be an excellent goalkeeper). I think that it comes down to looking at horses for courses. LeBron is built perfectly for basketball…and Messi is built perfectly for football. Comparing them is like comparing a jockey and a horse! They both have different jobs. Is a lawyer smarter than a doctor? Or the other way around? Who gives a rats tossbag? So long as they can perform in their given field…I don’t care one bit. Clearly this LeBron chap is a good player, and good athlete…but if you think that people like Lionel Messi, David Beckham and Cesc Fabregas aren’t good athletes.

      I mean…if you want to say that a lot of cricket players and baseball players aren’t as athletic as basketball players…I’ll agree.

      Thanks for the response.

      As for the Japanese colony reference…I thought we were here to discuss sports, not stroke the fragile egos of Americans with a gentle masturbation over yet another glorious period of American history? I live in South Korea…there are plenty of American folk around here if I want to discuss the glories of America’s past…we should stick to the sports 🙂

  3. The Bearded Guy says:


    I am from North America and you can thank us for you not being a Japanese colony. (See Guadalcanal).

    5) Maybe that is just me. And they could definitely be gassed, but when there is so much on the line I would think I would see and elevation in their play. Strictly an opinion.

    4) I have watched up until this point. I just don’t understand why in pool play everyone is okay with a tie? Why would you change the rules of how a game ends midway through to incorporate it? Let’s just go with the old stand-by answer: ‘It’s about the tradition of the game’

    3) Alright we can be cordial on this one, even with Aidan.

    2) There is some bias to what I said, but you also can not deny what I am saying either without being biased yourself. I have scoured databases looking for anything in which I could find physical assessments to compare the likes of Lebron (6’8″ 274 lbs or 124 Kg) and Messi (5’7″ 154lbs or 70kgs) . Both are known for being incredibly fast and explosive. Neither of them have a public training routine that we can use to compare their athleticism. There is a simple reason Lebron, Kobe, and other players choose not to play soccer. There is little notoriety in playing it in America. There plenty of places Landon Donovan can walk around without being recognized. It simply comes down to it being a second rate sport in the United States in popularity and the athletes who participate.

    This is without starting in with the argument based on full body dexterity. But that’s not the basis of either of our initial arguments so I will move on.

    1) If their is a review system enlighten me on who the foul was on in the Slovenia vs USA game? No mistake was acknowledged, although he was dismissed from the rest of the tournament. A similar tradition filled sports organization that hates review, is MLB, yet when a crucial call was blown that cost a young pitcher a shot at history the umpire stepped forward and took responsibility.

    So we all know the tradition argument here, so I am not calling for review or an over turning of the call. It would just be nice to see the official make a statement about his call.

    Thanks for the post Burndog,


    I am wondering where I talked about American Football in my post….Did you consider Lebron a NFLer?….Did the hockey comparison through you off?…I shouldn’t address your post…just kidding

    Here’s a football reference for you:

    “If God had wanted man to play soccer, He wouldn’t have given us arms”- Mike Dicka

    Thanks for reading

    The Bearded Guy

  4. Burndog says:

    A quick reply to address the referee transparency question…(sorry to be brief but I’m busy today…so will hopefully respond in full at a later date).

    This site covers things from an Amercian perspective…so might help you more than I can….The ref in question (in the USA v Slovenia game was Coulibaly…and the link that I shall provide at the bottom of the page says this –

    “Coulibaly earned his red card. FIFA should have earned some respect.

    By availing his game referees to the media for a second time this World Cup, FIFA boss Sepp Blatter demonstrated at least a modicum of transparency that his counterparts in the U.S., who run our most-popular sports, all but refuse to demonstrate.

    I don’t recall David Stern, Roger Goodell or Bud Selig inviting us to an afternoon with its game officials, referees and umpires. I don’t remember getting a chance to see NFL referees, NBA officials, or MLB umpires put through their paces.

    I don’t recall any of our leagues sending out a release stating, as FIFA did before the World Cup kicked off, that any of their officials were being defrocked because they didn’t pass fitness muster. If that was the case, we wouldn’t witness some of the bellies we do on college basketball and football referees and a few of Selig’s men on base.

    I don’t recall any World Cup coaches or players being fined or suspended by FIFA because of criticism they dared drop on FIFA’s referees in these highly emotional contests.

    FIFA appears to operate more like a democracy than a dictatorship.”


    Now…that’s an interesting perspective, from a group of people who clearly follow football all of the time…they don’t just become ‘experts’ for four weeks every year!

    I don’t know if what they’re saying about American sports is true…nobody outside of America (and a few places in Asia) really cares about American sports.



  5. The Bearded Guy says:

    I guess FIFA has a different way of speaking of a mistake….as I wrote I would have liked to see the FIFA and the official itself come out and speak directly about the call. The part of the article you did not include happen to be a quote in which another ref seemingly would not address the situation.

    ” “We don’t talk about [Koman] Coulibaly,” Inacio Candido, who introduced himself to me as Manuel, said quietly and with a gentle smile when I asked him about the Malian referee who nullified the U.S.’s potential game-winning goal against Slovenia.”

    Although what he might have said next was “Coulibaly made a terrible call and FIFA told me to address this situation with you, Kevin Blackistone.”

    The clip I had provided you was the ref in question being interviewed directly after the game, the author of this article saying that free access is not given to interview game officials in major U.S. sporting events has an agenda for sure.

    Now it seems we have come to a bit of impasse, as you believe this article addresses my desire for the Association to speak about the calls made on the field and whether or not mistake was made. Since no statement was made besides the slimming down of the World Cup Officials for future matches, I see my point as still relevant. I do not claim to be a Soccer/Futbol expert by any means.
    So maybe you can clarify, but doesn’t FIFA have to decrease the number of officials each World Cup and continue to go with those of the highest reputation as the tournament continues? Aren’t the bad officials always calling their way out of the tournament?
    That is what happens in a lot of tournaments (in sports you do not care about), similar to the teams the best officials go on to the next round, so hopefully the championship game has top-notch officials.

    Now if you have a statement from FIFA or Koman Coulibaly please let me know.

    Also, Do you know who Kevin Blackistone is, he has tried to make a name for himself by making flamboyant statements with a bunch of other second rate US sports columnist (See Woody Paige) and he seldom speaks about Soccer. I guess you can call him a soccer expert, if you want, since he received Fanhouses presspass to South Africa.

  6. Burndog says:

    Aha! I see now. Having read a little bit elsewhere…I see that in American sport…if a ref makes a big mistake he (or the governing body) might issue an apology or some such in the press the next day. Is that right?

    I wans’t aware of that. It’s certainly not the way that we do things in Australian sport. Sometimes a referee in the English Premier League might admit to a mistake or some such…but in Australia we don’t go that way. We consider mistakes to be a part of the game (Aussie rules requires a LOT of input from the officials) and don’t expect an apology…I mean where does that end? Should the players apologise for missing a set shot? Should the coach apologise for his poor tactics?

    Dropping the referee from future fixtures is the only form of punishment that FIFA dishes out. Blatter commented on the recent misktakes by referees saying –

    “It is obvious that after the experience so far in this World Cup it would be nonsense to not reopen the file of technology at the business meeting of the International FA Board in July.”

    “Personally, I deplore it when you see evident referee mistakes, but it’s not the end of a competition or the end of football. This can happen.”

    But that’s as much as you’ll ever get from FIFA.

    I don’t really see how an apology suddenly makes the whole sport transparent and above corruption or trouble.

    To clarify…yeah…of course a tournament slims down until you have the best team of officials…and the best players too. It’s an obvious admission that the ref has been below standard if he is dropped. Do you need to sinlge the ref out for extra public humiliation? I don’t know. I guess it’s just a different way of doing things. I don’t know which is better.

    As for my link….I wasn’t being selective…I just didn’t realise that we were talking about completely different things. I was talking about the internal mechanism, and you were talking about the external mechanism. Of course a linesman isn’t going to slag off a referee…his career would be over. It’s like an actor slagging off a director. It’s not the done thing. So I’m not surprised that the linesman wouldn’t slag off a ref.

    Here’s Coulibaly apologising on live t.v.

    Anyway…just want to say that I have enjoyed the blog. I like opinions. I like to express them too. I also enjoy different opinions. So….thanks for letting me voice my half arsed opinions…and for throwing me yours! It’s been a treat!

  7. Aidan says:

    Wow what a mistake to make on my part. Whatever sport it is my point still stands. You’re inclined to be biased towards American culture as anyone would be to their own culture.

    To sum up, LeBron might be a great athlete but I still don’t think he’d be good at soccer. Different skills.

  8. sandydmz says:

    So, Bearded Man, I like the post, but I can’t fully agree.

    5) Gotta keep in mind that this is when they’ve been playing for 45 minutes already. It sounds like you’re asking for 3 minutes of all out play, but that’s hard as shit after having run for that long. This isn’t like other sports with unlimited subs and built in timeouts. The only US sport (since I really only know US sports) that can compete with the endurance needed to play soccer is hockey, but they switch lines so often, that the players are still well rested.
    Also, keep in mind the finish to the USA vs Algeria game that took the US to the second round and the other game, which you brought to my attention, which is New Zealand vs. Slovakia for NZ to tie the game. South Korea also scored a goal in stoppage time to bring them within one goal of Argentina going into half…just turns out that that goal didn’t give them the momentum they were all hoping for. There have been plenty of other goals in stoppage time during this World Cup, but in blow outs or in losing efforts, so certainly not as notable as these three, but they are there.

    4) In the group stage of the World Cup, the teams are playing too many games to wear themselves out that early on. What you’re suggesting would have caused our own USA team to play two overtimes in their first two games, which would hit our team hard. When you’re playing that often, and as was stated earlier, tournament, rather than single elimination, I think it makes sense to keep it simple.
    Also, to keep it interesting, in all honesty. I don’t want starters to be rested more as a matter of selfishness. I’d rather see them play than subs.

    3) If anyone disagrees with you on this point, they have more patience than I do. I 100% agree.

    2) I think you’re falsely comparing the US to the rest of the world. It’s obvious that the best athletes in the US do not play soccer. Not at all. Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, nascar, maybe…but not soccer. But this is also why we’re unable to compete on a world scale (compete=making it past round 2 and/or solidly beating a tiny African country with less than 10% of our population). But the best athletes in the world do play soccer in other countries. LeBron could maybe be a good soccer player. As you yourself stated, probably a goalie. Different sports just favor different traits. Just because these athletes aren’t as tall or thick doesn’t make them less of athletes, it makes them less suited for football and basketball. I think we all could agree that hockey players are some damn good athletes, both in shape and they hit the crap out of each other, yet the tallest NHL player is only 6’9″ and that’s very rare. Sydney Crosby is only 5’11” and is one of the best players in the world. From what I’ve seen, sports that favor speed tend to get shorter athletes. LeBron is certainly fast, quick, strong, and agile, but would it transfer to the field, probably not (I might say otherwise about ex-soccer player and huge soccer fan Kobe though. All biased though). And would I say these fast, quick, strong, and agile soccer players could play basketball, almost definitely no.

    1) Fact. Even the part about missed travel calls in basketball. Against players like LeBron mainly.

    Just my perspective. I don’t know if I can sway you, cause I think this all comes down to point of view. Your post reminds me a lot of how I feel about basketball. Certain things just get on people’s nerves. Maybe, you’ll just never love soccer.

  9. The Mark says:

    Being a huge fan of the game I’m gonna have to side with Burndog, Aidan and Sand-Rant on this one.

    My favorite quote from all your comments was this from Burndog:

    “There’s this interesting thing where North Americans seem to feel like they can improve football…like there’s something wrong with it. At the same time…the English seem to really want Americans (in particular) to really like football. The problem is…football isn’t broken.”

    I totally agree Burndog, Football isn’t broken and it doesn’t need to be Americanized. Not to worry, The Bearded One and the rest of America will forget about fixing this game two seconds after the Finals are over if they haven’t already lost interest since the USA is no longer in it. Four years from now we will be hearing how soccer is gonna be huge, again, and we’ll go through this tired act once more.

    The faking kills me too and it’s one of the reason my love for the Italian team has been fading since the mid-90’s.

    Biggest point of this whole thing is that soccer players are REAL athletes. Lets not assume that since we don’t like the sport that they aren’t as gifted as LeBron, Kobe, Manning and Lincecum. If that’s the case then the guys in the Tour de France aren’t real athletes either because they can’t dunk a basketball, throw a curveball, or a 50-yard bomb in the Super Bowl. I doubt anyone can say that cyclists aren’t athletes.

  10. The Bearded Guy says:

    The Mark,

    Your comments will go down as some of the most original points I have ever read. I am glad you were able to suckle on the made points of Burndog. Write another game recap and leave original writing to me. Your Blasian style biggest point, REAL athletes doesn’t make sense, I didn’t say they were not real athletes just said they were the worlds best.
    “The lack of the worlds best athletes.”

    I am not sure why you would bring Cycling into this anyway. It might be the dirtiest sport that exists including 80’s-2005 Baseball, Cement boxing gloves, and players coming from “The Program“. Granted, they are still athletes by definition: A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts.

    Question: Lance seems to have a huge advantage on a bike seat, does that count as acquisition or natural?


    Thanks for the Coulibaly apologizing video, I laughed out loud great to do when your office is in the Teacher’s room. I don’t know how Rick Rolling started, but I do enjoy it.

    • The Mark says:

      Then strike where I said REAL and insert worlds best because they are. I agree cycling is dirty but those guys are also among the worlds best, at least the clean ones are.

      So you are the king of original writing now?

      Who is this Blasian that you speak of?

  11. The Bearded Guy says:

    It’s good to be King 😉

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