Monday, July 9, 2018
The World Cup of fouls
"Hey" You wonder, "What happened? Everyday with the essays about The World Cup, whether we wanted it or not, and then, bam, somewhere in the middle of the round of 16 it all just...
Not that you're complaining.
Well, I'll tell you what happened.
I got too bitter to talk about it anymore.
Not too bitter to watch the games anymore, not that bitter. But too mad to form words.
Too mad for words!!!!
Do you know what the biggest story from this World Cup has been? Do you know what the English Papers write scathingly about, what the Soccer Reddits obsess over, and what all the crappy Fox commentators natter on about?
The great crime of this World Cup is, apparently, obviously, hilariously, awfully, players pretending to be injured (or more injured than they are) in order to get the referee to notice, say, that they fell down, or that someone stepped on them, or someone sneakily elbowed them in the ribs.
It turns out that this simulation stuff is, like, practically cheating.
And unmanly. And bad for the game.
Take your lumps!
Besides, it doesn't work. These World Cup referees just tell you to get up anyway.
Apparently these simulators should all be fined, or banned, or red carded, or mocked, or all of the above.
Oh the simulation! The weak-kneed, crybaby, and ridiculous simulation! If only it weren't for the simulation!
Meanwhile, over here I seem to be watching an entirely different World Cup than the whole of The Internet, the Commentators, and all the press.
Here's what I see:
If someone dribbles cleverly around you? Foul them.
If someone catches a beautiful through pass? Foul them.
If someone does something tricky and entertaining, and there's no advantage to fouling them? Foul them anyway, for showing off, and just because.
If someone's better than you? If someone's quicker than you? If someone's faster than you. If someone's more clever than you? Oh foul them. Foul them, foul them, foul them, foul them!
Now, if you foul in the box, that's bad. It's 50-50 that it'll actually be called a foul because, even with VAR (video review) those calls are often liners, and can go either way, and if it's called it's almost like giving up a free goal. So don't let it get to the box.
And if you foul too obviously, the opposing player well past you, or maybe you kick in with no chance at the ball, that's bad too. You could get a yellow card. You could miss a game for yellows, or even get thrown out (well, probably not that).
But there is a very simple and safe way to avoid these two small problems:
Foul them. Foul them before they ever get to the box. Foul them before they're away from you. Foul them while you can. Foul them, foul them, foul them.
Here is what can happen if you foul them, the consequences, if you will:
1. You sort of hit the ball vaguely and there's no foul and everyone talks about your great tackle.
2. The best and most agile players, playing most honestly, will miraculously evade your foul, but lose an essential half stride, slowing them enough, or even losing their balance (causing them to fall, with you exonerated, and everyone crying out that there should be a penalty for simulation).
3. It's just a "for fun" foul off the ball and so the referee doesn't notice or care.
4. It's a foul and the referee sees it, but what's the difference anyway and he's sick of calling fouls by now when they barely matter anyway.
5. Advantage is played, but you have slowed down play enough that it leads to nothing.
6. Advantage is played, but one of their players is writing on the pitch in agony and so their attack is one short and leads to nothing except for the commentators opining about how dreadful and shameful it is to see a grown man writhing about on the pitch.
7. And, of course, most of all: A free kick wherein you now get to artfully arrange your whole defense behind the ball in an unbreakable construction. Granted you don't want to foul too close to the box as a freakishly good kick, bad goalie, or random header may go in, but these can and do all happen pretty much anytime in this World Cup regardless of free kicks.
And so in conclusion?
This, as we have seen, has led to two things in this Cup:
1. There are close to no goals whatsoever from build up play, that is from interconnected passes and dribbling and brilliant control and superiority on the ball leading to open space and open goals. I assume, without actually recalling, that there might be a scant few of these goals around, but I only sort of remember one; a few deft swift and clever passes and then right into the goal. I also remember this goal being met with the commentators' mild contempt for the ball merely being passed into the net. This instead of the far more common and revered World Cup Goals of:
a. Off some random guy's face, shoulder, or leg, and accidentally into the net.
b. Because of some goalie's astonishingly horrible error.
c. From a penalty in the box that is called sometimes and isn't called sometimes, but was called this time and was from a play that otherwise never would have led to a goal.
And of course there is the second consequence of this extremely foul friendly style of play:
2. The horrible, random spectacle of grown men writhing on the ground, faking injury!
No, wait, that's not it.
2. Random victories, penalty shoot outs, games decided by own goals, lots and lots and lots of headers, and every team made equal, so long as the lesser team can remain cynical enough.
All that simulation?
Think of it as just the pain that this is so...