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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Go France!

One of the toughest things about moving to Toronto, as I’ve discovered this summer, is the euphoria of World Cup soccer. Who wouldn’t be juiced about it? A bunch of short shorts-wearing divas with shitty haircuts desperately showboating and diving in front of refs in order to hide the fact their sport is SO BORING IT MAKES ANGELS PASS OUT AND RAIN DOWN FROM HEAVEN. Hooligans don’t start soccer riots because they’re angry or excited; they start them because they’re so fucking bored.

So, how does an entire city go apeshit for this affair? Can there be that many rabid soccer fans out there just waiting for the chance to affix flags to their car hoods and windows and drive around honking? Of course not, but – and no sleight against the genuine soccer fans (pity them) – there are a load of bandwagon jumpers who use World Cup “fever” as an excuse to for obnoxious nationalist posturing. When Portugal advanced to the semi-finals, there was suddenly five times the number of flag-waving Portugal supporters, many of them with curiously non-Portuguese features. When that team won its last game, our neighbourhood was deluged – again – with blaring horns. Hours of ‘em. Same goes for Italy, and several other of the top-tier soccer countries. It’s multiculturalism at its… er… honkiest.

And really, is that the best they can do? Edmontonians burn phone booths when their hockey team advances to the semis. Violent, thuggish and unnecessary, yes, but at least it’s creative.

The good news is France beat Portugal today – in what was surely a riveting 1-0 game – and there are far fewer France supporters in T.O. (or maybe it’s just that their tiny Citroëns fall over when they clip flags to the windows). I’ve finally found a reason to cheer and a team to cheer for: the one least likely to annoy. If Italy wins the final, I’m afraid it’ll be auto-machismo central; if France wins, we’re probably looking at emptied wine bottles and a few drunken baguette sword fights.

Sure, that seems like the dour view from Curmudgeon Central, after all, the World Cup brings nations together in a spirited show of athleticism, it does only run for a month once every four years and a lot of guys selling flags from vans in gas station parking lots are really happy. Yes indeed, there are certainly worse things than the World Cup – like terrorism, prison sex with a stun-gun, and David Beckham’s haircut at any given moment (say what you will about hockey mullets, at least they aren't pretentious). Oh, yeah, and actually watching a World Cup game, that’s much worse.

Go France!

Oh, and if you’re feeling the same way, check out this anti-soccer site. The haircut section alone is worth the visit.


Anonymous Paul said...

Great post. You pretty much summed up my only interest in the tournament: cheering for the team which would result in the least obnoxious victory celebration.

Italy are favoured just barely, but they're also Chokey McBlow-Itons that haven't won since '82.

In conclusion, Gfrance.

8:16 AM

Blogger Alana said...

No doubt. I mostly hate soccer for the ridiculous diving. This video is pretty funny:


9:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Socccer blows. I agree with you that the game is so utterly boring it leaves you wondering how disinterested in real life soccer funs are to watch it.

the mayor and the Toronto media cheer the multi-culturalism of this city of which the soccer cup flag-waving is a prime symptom. Frfankly, I think it's a sign of disrespect and I am sick to have to endure it and, being politically correct, give out smiles of appproval to national embled-toting co-workers. I would tell them to fuck off but then I might get fired.

8:24 PM

Blogger Superdude said...

I bought an Italia shirt at Honest Eds in Toronto (where else) for $10. It was made in China. WHen I got outside, I asked my Italian friend if Italy was even a contender for the word cup. THen I asked who their best player was.
Then I asked him why he thought it was such a great idea to have an Italy shirt.
He said it was because he had an Italy shirt on, too.
That guy owes me ten bucks.

7:59 AM

Anonymous collin said...

The World Cup is easiest target in the world. C'mon. There are guys who wait four years to get big blasts of indignation off at soccer. Yes, it's boring, and the players are Euro-Trash and North American players are aspiring Euro-Trash. Just leave them be.
I can do it. And I live in a town that has 6,000 British soldiers in it.
On a good note, my girlfriend's father watches 20-30 hours of Premier League matches every week, but won't put up a Union Jack because it's disrespectful to Canadians.
Yes, and then he walks his bulldog, playing Rule Britannia on the Bagpipes before falling on the ground as if felled by a snipers bullet and eventually carried off the field for a man massage miraclously cures him in time to score the Golden Goal*.

*-They no longer play Golden Goal, but it sounds better.

11:34 AM

Blogger Dave said...

Collin, somehow I knew you'd find a way to be jaded about me being jaded. Of course, if you were in the thick of Car Horn Hell, you could get a deeper shade of jade. Until then, you continue to out-jade me at every turn, though.

Also, what do you mean by "...carried off the field for a man massage miraclously cures him in time to score the Golden Goal*."? Your girlfriend's dad plays the bagpipes some place where if/when he falls over, he's carried away and given a massage? And then he plays soccer? Please explain.

And how was camping the other weekend?

12:41 PM

Anonymous collin said...

Hoo. Nevermind. I'm told that I'm not allowed to write about a certain girlfriend's family anymore.
Camping was really nice. The Cypress Hills are a range of hills (duh) that span the Alta.-Sask. border near hte U.S. border. Essentially, the heavily wooded park was apparently missed when glaciers scraped the prarie flat during the ice age. Also, there is a coullee south of town that features giant red boulders that were formed in the ancient seabed and have been exposed by erosion. Since bald prairie surrounds them, they look like giant turnips that fell from outer-space.
I'll forward pix.

11:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think it's true, the World Cup rarely puts on a good game. Frankly, I don't see why people get so wound up about it, except to cheer for their home team (or their grandparents' home team?). The teams haven't played much together, so they lack the flair of their regular club sides. A couple of mid-table, working class Premiership sides would put on a better derby than England versus Anyone.

As for diving, or embellishing a weak hit, that stuff was ALL OVER the Stanley Cup playoffs this year. Basically, I think it can be so hard to get an advantage in these games that any infraction needs to be punished just to improve your odds.

Lastly, hooligans fight for any number of bad reasons, but your "Anonymous" post above brings up some big ones: neo-fascists and ultranationalism. Plus, the "bored" fans looking for a fight or a chance to get laid aren't too unfamiliar, either, with fights and burning phone booths in Edmonton as your examples.

Anyway, I couldn't resist writing you a rebuttle. Soccer's a bit like Henry Rollins: I don't expect anyone else to like it, but it works for me.


-Kevin in Edmonton

10:50 AM

Blogger Alana said...

Yeah, there's diving in hockey, but the players don't roll around on the ice screaming in agony until a stretcher is brought out, get (literally) carried to the bench, and then hop up off the stretcher and play the next shift. I'm generalizing here, but soccer players tend to be drama queen pansies. I mean, stretchers?! Come on.

11:45 AM

Blogger Dave said...

Yeah, I hear ya about the diving in hockey -- I hate that there's more of that B.S. now with the rule changes. It's a pisser. More importantly, though, why aren't there diving calls made in soccer?

I managed to catch the shoot-out in the World Cup final, and it made me dislike the game that much more. It was a total joke. The goalies couldn't come close to stopping a shot, and Italy only won because one of France's shots happened to bounce out instead of in after hitting the cross-bar. What a cheese way to win a final.

That said, Rollins rules!

12:28 PM

Anonymous collin said...

Seriously, you need to go on you tube and search for head butt or zidane.
It's awesome.

12:44 PM

Blogger Alana said...

I saw the head-butt. It was pretty rad.

It's hilarious that soccer players won't even use their hands in a fight.

1:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would feel weird talking about this, but I've read through Chris's "Covered
In Oil" site. A fan's a fan.

Yeah, I don't like penalty-shot wins, either, but the game has to end sometime. I don't know what happens in hockey if the game isn't decided after a few periods of extra time. I know they go to four-on-four for a bit....

There was some talk that soccer rules might be changed to let keepers move when the penalty shooter moves, not just once the ball is hit. Still, Portugal's keeper saved three of England's penalty shots, putting England out of the Cup. Trivia: The only England player to score in those PKs was Owen Hargreaves, who's from Calgary!

Personally, I like a game that kicks players out of the game, plus missing a few future games, and then fines them, for fighting. I think hockey's a bit of an anachronism that way: Is it a five minute major for beating the shit out of someone? Still, I WAS getting used to the big bodychecks a few rounds into the Stanley Cup playoffs. And, like an Oakie yokel or a Montana militiaman, I have to confess that I watch Ultimate Fighting Championship when I can.

Soccer players are stretchered off the field because the clock is still running and the rules say the game has to keep moving as quickly as possible. Once the doctors and stretchers are on the field, the player has to either get up and walk off or be stretchered off, or they get a yellow card. They can't be treated on the field. I'd have to say it's easier to skate on one leg while supported by a doc/physio than it would be to hop off the field on one leg. Also, legs, ankles, and metatarsals seem to get broken on a regular basis following sloppy/vicious slide tackles, so it's not always a dive. There's video footage all over the net of Cisse getting his legs broken in different matches. They knock heads and get concussions a lot, too.

Diving (a.k.a. "Simulation") gets a yellow card. Diving in your own penalty area can give your opponents a penalty kick.

Also, a player with two yellow cards (or one red card) gets sent off, AND they miss the next match. You don't get replaced, your team finishes that match a man down. If I remember right, in England, a straight red card (for dangerous play, or whatever) means you miss three matches. After accruing five yellows, you miss a match.

So, in soccer, the idea is to play a clean game and not injure each other intentionally. In hockey, it's part of the game. A hockey team can be neutralized pretty effectively through really physical play. In soccer, the same tactics can lose you the game once you get sent off. There's still plenty of room for "bone-crunching tackles," as they say, and English league play is very physical compared to most other domestic leagues. England also has high-scoring games on a fairly regular basis, like six or more goals in a match, which is pretty close to hockey. The rules change year to year to favor goal-scoring and a smooth flow of play.

-Kevin in Edmonton

9:39 PM

Blogger Superdude said...

I like that soccer is over.

10:04 AM


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