Sunday, July 09, 2006

World Cup final thoughts while listening to Bringing It All Back Home:

I hate penalty-kick finals. I say make them play till they drop or someone scores a goal; make that more likely by forcing each team to remove one player at the beginning of each 15-minute overtime period.

Boy howdy, Zidane sure looked classy when he head-butted Materazzi, didn't he? What a way to go out, a World Cup final and you get red-carded and can't participate in the penalty kicks. And your team loses out on just one miss.

I wonder if Cannavaro might be interested in playing for FC Barcelona. I know he's like 32, but he's pretty damn good and I bet he stays in form three more years. And, right now, Barça has only three center-backs, Puyol, Marquez, and Oleguer. I would put in a bid. I will also bet that Real Madrid signs at least five players from Juve and Milan.

The diving and flopping around was, as usual, excessive, and something needs to be done. Video replay just would not work in soccer, you can't stop play like that, but it wouldn't change the game too much to put three referees on the pitch and two linesmen on each side. That would put a lot more eyes on what's happening, and some things that aren't noticed now would be seen.

More Americans than ever have been following the World Cup in English on ABC, up 65% from under 1 million in 2002 to 2.6 million in 2006. Soccer's actually become the hip cool edgy sport for twenty- and thirty-somethings, and real sports buffs will watch anything, of course. Now, 2.6 million isn't much, but it's an improvement, and that figure is doubled when you count on those watching in Spanish on Univision. And these figures are for the opening games, not for the later, more interesting and exciting ones.

I've always thought that we already had enough sports in America and that there wasn't enough room in the national attention for another, but I might be wrong. Perhaps when the quality of the American professional league improves, more fans will come. And, maybe, US interest in top-level European club soccer will increase too. If I were ESPN 8 or whatever, one of those sports channels with time to fill, I'd buy the rights to the Champions' League and promote the hell out of it just to see what would happen.

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