The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Complete Incomprehension

Read this and this and this and throw up and come back.

I am not going to waste much of my life on dismissing this stuff; I skipped the game because I knew it was going to be shit and I had someplace else to be (plus I fucking hate the Dutch. Blame Arjen Robben) but a few quick points:

1. If you expected a classic you were dreaming. Neither of these countries had ever won the cup before; both were going to be utterly terrified of screwing up and conceding early, then scared of conceding late and having to chase, which was always going to lead to grinding spooked stalemate. Throw in that the Spanish- dirty if obvious secret- play a lot of slow-control tippy-tappy and win 1-0 a lot and the Dutch are often somnolent and constipated until they get a lead, and the odds of this game even being watchable were always low. Any of the people I was with at a Mets game today can attest: without having watched minute 1 I was saying at the half when the score was flashed that it had to be a brutally awful mess.

2. If you’re criticizing these teams for not providing “entertainment”, you’re an idiot. You know what it is when you have seemingly opposed forces conspiring to create a highly entertaining spectacle based on offense, comebacks, and drama? Pro wrestling. If you want them to start working the World Cup finals, Man/Woman Up and say so; if not, if you still want this to be an actual sport where winning is the object, STFU and deal with it. Oooooorrrrrr…..

3. If you actually want to see more entertaining games in future, quit whining about how these teams have a moral responsibility to play a style they, by their actions, clearly think isn’t conducive to winning and change the rules so that what you want to see is a good strategy for victory. This doesn’t have to be outlandish- you could probably increase scoring 15-25% and thereby open up the game easily just by giving all benefit of the doubt and priority on neck-and-neck decisions to attacking players on offsides calls. But that doesn’t get done because apparently it’s more fun to whine about problems than actually fix them. And don’t tell me it’s never been done; from the NFL accepting the forward pass to the NHL cracking down on interference and allowing the 2 line pass to the NBA eliminating handchecking to MMA adding standups to soccer itself banning picking up of backpasses, adjusting the rules for the sake of entertainment is an old and honored tradition in just about every sport out there.

4. Recognize that if either of these teams had come out gangbusters trying to score, been hit on the counter-attack early and ultimately turned over 4-1 (see: almost every game Germany played this year) they would have been absolutely eviscerated in the press and by their countrypeople on returning home for their failed gameplan which resulted in national humiliation. They’d be branded as disgusting chokers and a shame to their country for the rest of their lives, gutless cowards who threw away the biggest opportunity in a generation. If they came out, played crap and negative and won 1-0, they would be lauded as national heroes for the rest of their lives, their names prefixed with “the legendary….” anytime football was discussed in their country the way Bobby Charlton is in England. Do you think anyone in Spain gives a shit about how entertaining this game was to neutrals on other continents? Fuck no and a fuck no less. The same would be true for the Dutch if they had taken it.

5. Anyone who suddenly noticed just now that the Dutch are dirty has been living in cloudcuckooland for at least the length of this tournament and probably longer. I don’t deny their skill, but they are incredibly loathsome cheats who dive and foul their way through games. It’s just what they are with this generation of players. If you want them and teams like them to be something different, change the rules and incentives under which they play.

6. If you read the comments on that Guardian article, you’ll find something like 90% disagreement with the article. This wankery is a journalist thing more than a fan thing I think, as much puffed-up moralizing about sports tends to be.

7. I haven’t watched this match so I won’t defend Howard Webb in specific, but in general: pity for a moment the lot of the referee assigned the last match of the World Cup. He’s denied video assistance, is dealing with 22 players who will cheat constantly whenever they can get away with it, he will be attacked mercilessly and might even be personally threatened if he gives out an early red regardless of what actually transpires or whether one is warranted and will be accused of “deciding the game himself” and “ruining the spectacle” if he gives out a late one, will be accused of encouraging thuggery if he doesn’t, he will be accused of bias regardless of what he does by one side or another, he will have to react in milliseconds to plays which the world- the entire goddamn world, literally- will pick over on slow motion replay for years afterward as tens of millions of people are sure it should have been done differently… it’s just a shit job, maybe the shittiest for an official in just about any sport anywhere.

8. Congratulations to Spain, a great side who have answered all questions, and may their next such victory be greeted by a larger degree of appreciation for what a special team they are.


July 11, 2010 - Posted by | Other Soccer


  1. I actually thought the game was entertaining, but the cards have me furious. I literally could not have cared less about who won this match. I just wanted to see a competitive game. But the cards killed the pace. 14 yellows, when the next closest is six is insane.

    I watched this game and this supposed “thuggery” on the Dutch side was equally matched by the “beautiful” Spanish side. Sure, the drop kick was brutal, but that yellow that caused the red is a crime. The replay clearly shows that he was barely touched.

    You are right, that the ref doesn’t have the benefit of instantly replay, but this ref seemed to have an agenda. He was whipping cards out of his pocket left and right to start the game. But if you watched the Uruguay-Germany game, the ref did a brilliant job of letting them play.

    I thought that this was a good game (sure, it wasn’t Uruguay-Germany, but is?) but it was marred by the cards, for me anyway, and most everybody at the bar I was at watching the game.

    I think Spain is the better team, they looked better. They didn’t need the ref’s help.

    Comment by Tony M | July 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. I don’t know if Webb had an agenda, Tony…I’ve been watching the Premier League for a long time and I can tell you that he’s just a shit referee who was MILES out of his depth. It’s one thing to give him, say, Portugal-North Korea and Spain-Honduras in the first round and call it a day with him. He is just as card-happy for Liverpool vs. Stoke City as he is for Spain vs. Holland…he loses control of games very quickly and has a predilection for wanting to be the star of the show. “Look at me while I puff out my chest and forcefully brandish this yellow piece of paper to show that I am IN CONTROL.”

    As I said on Facebook, the real shame of his being assigned the final is that there were other guys who really deserved it. The Uzbek ref, the Guatemalan ref, the guy from Japan who ended up as the 4th official for the final…all had great tournaments and would have done a better job.

    Comment by Sean | July 13, 2010 | Reply

  3. It’s kind of like fight fans that only watch big fights. When they see a horrible decision, they think it’s fixed. It’s (usually) not, but it just looks fishy to the untrained eye. That’s me. I watch a fair amount of soccer, but that just looked so bad. But I had never heard of this Kelly douche before.

    Comment by Tony M. | July 13, 2010 | Reply

  4. err, Webb, not Kelly

    Comment by Tony M. | July 13, 2010 | Reply

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