July 11, 2006
I'm over a day late, but I was still absorbing what I saw on Sunday afternoon and needed time for it all to sink in.
That World Cup Final between Italy and France was one of the craziest and compelling matches I have ever seen. It had everything from questionable officiating to one of the all-time greats having an all-time meltdown to the match going to penalty kicks. And in the end, Italy won it's first ever penalty kick shootout in a World Cup in the final.
Who would have thunk it?
Thankfully the questionable officiating didn't affect the outcome of the match. The foul that led to Zidane's penalty kick goal was a soft call. Although, the referee let Italy get away with a foul in the box later in the game, so you could say that the calls evened out. And then you had the really, really tight offside call that negated a second goal for Italy. I thought it was the correct call even though the Italian player that was offside wasn't the one that ultimately received the pass and scored. The player that was offside wasn't in a passive offside position and was a part of the play.
The two things that have me shaking my head after the match are what was Zidane thinking when he head butted Marco Materazzi and why does the non-soccer media have to fixate on the fact that the match was decided on penalty kicks?
Zidane's now most famous header
I don't care what Materazzi said, Zidane was an idiot to do what he did. The rumor mill have Materazzi calling Zidane a terrorist, saying things about Zidane's wife, sister, or mother, or merely replying to Zidane's crack in response to Materazzi pulling his jersey by saying he'd like to take the jersey off of Zidane's wife.
Zidane should have taken a page out of the Argentine playbook and looked for revenge after the match was over. This was Zidane's last game ever and his team would need him down the stretch and especially in the penalty kick phase where it looked like things were going.
But, Zidane's temper got the best of him, unfortunately. And we'll never know if he would have been able to make the difference down the stretch for France.
It's just too bad that a legend such as Zidane will have that moment linked to him for the rest of his life. Much like fellow Frenchman Eric Cantona will forever be linked to the drop kick that he gave a fan once upon a time.
The whining about the match ending on penalty kicks
It seemed like everywhere I turned yesterday, someone was whining about the fact that the World Cup Final ended in penalty kicks.
The common refrain was something along the lines of it would be like the Super Bowl being decided by a field goal contest. And while I'll agree that ending the match with penalty kicks is a less than perfect way to end a match, I have yet to hear an idea that is better.
With teams only getting three subs per game in the World Cup, it is too much to ask these players to play until a goal is scored. Heck, you have guys cramping up and needing IVs after a 90 minute match. I'd hate to see what playing 180 minutes or more would do to guys.
The standard response to that would likely be to allow substitutes and allow players to re-enter the game like they do in pretty much every American sport or reduce the number of players on the field ala overtime during the NHL's regular season.
But that just gets back to why I hate the question in the first place. It's all about how American's in general believe that we need things to fit what we like and what we're used to. Apparently they don't see why if it's OK for over 200 other countries, then it should be OK for the US as well.
Personally, I'd love to see the looks on people's faces if someone were to suggest that the NFL or NBA should adopt the "Ironman" rules of soccer. I wonder what they'd think if someone were to suggest that an NBA team were only allowed to make one substitution a game? Or that the NFL should only allow 3 or 4 substitutions a game and pretty much everyone would have to play offense, defense, and special teams?
Just when I was sick of the mainstream media, I stumble onto this article
Instead of being your average soccer-hating article, this is a piece about how this year's World Cup got a 41 year old sports writer hooked on the game. It was so very refreshing to read this and I thought I'd share it.
It's too bad that more people aren't open-minded about the world's game...................
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