Sunday, July 09, 2006

It's All Over

Well, a month after it started, the World Cup is over with Italy being the last team standing. I don't care for the Italian team but kudos to them. Nobody beat them for a month. In fact, nobody got a better result against them than the US did when they tied them 1-1.

I watched the game at Positive Pie 2 with TM and about 100 other soccer fans (which you can make out from TM's fuzzy shot from his camera phone). The place was packed. And that's the most notable thing for me and this cup. Four years ago, eight years ago or twelve years ago you would not have seen 100 people go to a bar in a small Vermont town on a beautiful afternoon to watch a soccer game. People seem much more interested this year than in year's past.

I'm not crazy enough to believe all of these people are going to watch soccer regularly but they'll tune in for the next cup and a portion of them will follow the sport more closely than they did before. Whether it's watching pro games from Europe or qualifying matches for South Africa 2010, some of these new fans will expand their soccer interest.

As for Zidane and his bat shit crazy head butt with ten minutes to go in extratime, it was one of the craziest things I've ever seen a player do at such a heightened moment in a big game. The early reports are that Materazzi used a racial slur that sent Zidane over the edge. As disgusting as that is, Zidane has been playing soccer for decades. I'm sure he's heard all sorts of horrible things coming out of players' mouths. I can't imagine what Materazzi said that was so much worse to make Zidane lose complete control of his self-judgement.

Regardless, Zidane will probably be forever remembered for that head butt as it gets replayed thousands of times from now to eternity. But let's never forget that Zidane scored this goal in the Champions League Final. Certainly a better way to remember the guy.


Anonymous said...

The Daily Mail in London hired a lip-reader and is reporting that Matterazzi called Zidane a N***** and "the son of a terrorist whore."

Let me preface what I'm going to say next by stating that Zidane was foolish for snapping and getting sent off regardless of what was said. But one could offer the viewpoint that Italy was repsonsible for the Cup's worst foul (de Rossi on McBride), the worst dive (vs. Australia), the worst soccer and the worst incident of baiting an opponent (Matterazzi also grabbed Zidane's nipple clearly on the replays of the broadcast I saw).

I watched a replay of the game today and in the first minute, Cannavaro drills Henry in the chest with a elbow while Henry is tracking a ball and not looking. This can only be characterized as a cheap shot. In the fifth minute, Zambrotta goes in with a reckless, knee-on-knee challenge on Vieira. Zidane being chosen for the Golden Ball can only be interpreted as a backlash at Italy's disgusting conduct throughout the Cup, especially in the final.

With Italy fresh off the match-fixing scandal and hitting Dida in the head with a flare during a Champions League two years ago, the Italians embody everything disgusting about soccer. FIFA should kick them out of the next Cup.


Flatlander said...

I don't think they should be banned from the next cup but refs need to do a better job of policing the Italians. And if it's ever verified that Materazzi said something along the lines of what the lipreader claimed he said, he should be suspended for a long time.

Having said that, Zidane played for Juventus the entire second half of the 90's. I'm sure he heard crap like that from jerks like Materazzi all the time. He shouldn't have done it in that situation. Too important to his team.

By the way, if there is any question that Materazzi is a thug, watch this video of his five worst fouls in Serie A. The guy is a menace to the game.

Anonymous said...

to my eye, most of the guys playing in the world cup are menaces to the game. they all beat on each other, they all flop, they all mug for the officials, they all whine like babies when they get called for a foul. the overall level of crap behavior that is tolerated as 'part of the game' is a real turn-off, just like MLB's tolerance for all sorts of cheating is. that said, zidane is an absolute idiot for snapping, and the head butt was a particularly brutal and egregious example even for footie. i'm glad they booted his ass and i'm glad he had to watch his team lose by a PK which he undoubtedly would have made.

Flatlander said...

It amazes me the moral upperhand Americans trot out every time they see a soccer player whine to a ref or dive.

It's as if baseball players never bitch and moan about balls and strikes. Or that football players never limp slowly and gingerly back to the huddle and then miraculously start sprinting when the ball is snapped. Or that basketball players don't enhance their flop when they are trying to take a charge.

Don't forget folks, basketball and football had to implement "play clocks" to keep players from wasting time because they were wasting so much of it.

Soccer has plenty of faults but people shouldn't act as if they are unique to soccer and non-Americans.

Anonymous said...

oh, i agree that all pro sports suffer from this problem, and it pisses me off with all of them. i don't think other sports are any different from soccer in this regard. my comment was not meant as anti-soccer, but i may have gotten a little carried away b/c soccer happened to be the sport under discussion. i could easily launch similar rants against baseball (which i nonetheless watch and follow devoutly), football, basketball, hockey, etc etc. what i wanted to convey was that i don't think materazzi is anything special as a 'bad guy' in the zidane episode. i suspect his approach to his game is typical of a great number of world cup participants, not to mention pro athletes overall.

Anonymous said...

Materazzi is a piece of crap. I love his latest "I insulted Zidane but I didn't use any slurs". It sounds like Clinton when he smoked but didn't inhale.

I'm in no way, shape or form absolving Zidane for blowing his stack. But Materazzi is scum.

By the way, Klinsmann quit. Think he's headed our way?

Flatlander said...

Yeh. I'm guessing that Klinsmann will be our next coach. Why wouldn't someone accept a few million dollars a year to live anonymously in L.A. with his beautiful and kids while coaching a good soccer team with little public pressure on him. Sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

This link is pretty damn funny.