As the kids’ winter holiday drew to a close, we made the most of the winter weather with a quick braai:
This evening, I settled down to a bit of pre-season footy: the totally bizarre mismatch of AFC Bournemouth hosting a full strength Real Madrid side. It’s currently half time and 0-3, but it could have easily been 0-27 (which it probably will be by full time).
I watched a little Bundesliga and La Liga football this weekend and for their sakes, let’s hope that the games I chose weren’t representative of the wider situation in those countries.
First off, 1. FC Köln v Bayern München. Bayern aren’t the team you want to face in your final league game of the season, especially when you’re struggling to avoid relegation. And when the visitors led 4-1 with seconds to play, the Köln fans showed thei disapproval thus:
(Another pic here). Obviously, the ref had no option but to take the players off, the game was (technically) abandoned and the result stood, much like the lines of riot police and stewards across the centre of the pitch for almost an hour afterwards.
But of course, it’s England that has the hooligan problem.
Meanwhile in Spain, Real Madrid were coming from behind to condemn home side Granada to a nervy last match next week. The result of this was an ugly brawl between Granada players and the match officials at the end of the game, including a bottle being thrown at the referee by one of the players. Can’t blame the fans for that one, although the referee had to leave the pitch under the protection of three riot shields. In all my years of watching footy in England, I’ve never ever seen that either. Although it seems fairly common in Spain – who could forget the UEFA Champions League encounter between Real Madrid and Barcelona last year, when exactly the same thing happened.
But of course, it’s England that has the hooligan problem.
And the beautiful game, as played in South America, is actually far less beautiful when you look more closely.
I’ve seen players injured on the field of play before, but rarely does the trainer have to come on and treat the player while riot police protect them from objects thrown from the crowd. And by “rarely”, I actually mean “never”. Police in England don’t use rifles and rubber bullets to disperse angry fans, like they do in Brazil (World Cup 2014, anyone?).
Yes, England has certainly had it’s fair share of problems with hooliganism in the past. But that reputation should be left right there, in the past. While there are problems occurring regularly in other leagues around the world, English football has been free of any major trouble for many years now. Maybe it’s time that FIFA sorted out some of the other “big” names in world football before accusing English fans of being troublemakers.
It saddens me. If the “best team in the world” have to play act like that, what hope is there for football?
What should have been a passionate, entertaining game of football between two great teams was ruined by (mainly) Barcelona’s players diving, feigning injury and trying to get opposition players sent off. I’m not saying that other clubs are any less guilty of such unsporting behaviour, but when this much-adored and obviously talented Barcalona team feel that they have to resort to such tactics, exactly where is football going?
The referee lost control of the game last night, but who can blame him when ever minor touch between players lead to a triple somersault with pike? And yes, one or two of the Madrid challenges deserved action to be taken, but one can understand (but not excuse) their frustrations when every single decision went the home side’s way.
Football needs to keep up with modern technology. FIFA’s refusal to institute goal line technology is ridiculous and has ruined many a game. Now they need to allow the reviewing of video evidence after the game for players diving and then suspend them. Either that or maybe make some more big bucks by researching, developing and marketing whatever it is that allows players like Pedro and Javier Mascherano to miraculously recover and get on with the game 5 seconds after what appears to be a career-threatening injury.
But what hope is there of video reviews when the Barca line-up last night featured Sergio Busquets, a player who just last week was caught on camera apparently, allegedly (but actually, definitely) racially insulting Marcello while trying to hide his actions behind his hand. Malice aforethought, anyone? However, as the lack of action against him shows, there’s actually no point disguising such foul behaviour when the authorities do nothing about it anyway. It seems that the same goes for diving.
If the betting odds are anything to go by, Barca will be facing Man U at Wembley on 28th May. And despite the fact I harbour an intense dislike for both clubs, this could be the second time in my life I have supported Man U. The good news for Reds’ fans is that I have a good record at this particular activity: the only other time I did this was in the incredible 1999 Champions League Final – ironically played at the Camp Nou. Memories of a very arrogant German family in the White Horse pub in Headington, Oxford and spilling an entire pint of guest ale over Dr Kyle Knox are brought back to mind.
In the meantime, I’ll be hoping for an somewhat unlikely Schalke 04 double tonight and on the 28th.
I was going to write this before the game tonight, but now I find myself writing while the game is on and already Spurs are behind to the mighty Real Madrid. Look, we’ve seen some amazing heroics from Spurs this season, and I’ve been wrong about football scores before: who hasn’t? If I knew the result before every game, my life would be very boring, although the MASSIVE amounts of money I would have might take the edge off that boredom.
Anyway, my advice for Spurs is even more pertinent now:
Settle for a draw, Well you’re not gonna get no more so you should settle for a draw.
Actually, with Peter Crouch sent off, I’m guessing that might even be a bit of an ask.