Sunday, September 16, 2007

Are you ready for some Football

On September 8th the Malta national football team (soccer for those on the US side of the pond) hosted the Turkish national team. A bunch of us went to the game. This game was held on the anniversary date of Victory Day, a Maltese holiday celebrating a victory over the Turks. In 1565 the Turkish armies came to Malta to take the island from the Knights of Malta. The long battle was called the Great Siege. On September 8th the Turkish army left. The Maltese remember this battle like it happened yesterday. The tenacity of the Maltese people is well documented and impressive throughout history.

So back to the match. The Malta team is out of contention for further playoffs but could play spoiler to the superior Turkish team. I have never been known to be a big fan of football/soccer (from this point I will refer to the game as f/s). The Maltese fans were really into the game and enthusiastic. I was impressed by their enthusiasm. There are some bizarre things about f/s that make it tough for Americans to take. The first thing is the injury time out. What is with this? When a player gets injured the clock continues to run. Officials keep track of the time that play is stopped for injury. Then this time is added to the end of each half so there is a full 45 minutes per half. As you are on the edge of your seat (as much as anyone can be for f/s) for the final seconds of the game the announcer comes over the loud speaker there are four minutes of injury time. So play will continue for another four minutes. Here is the problem with this. The clock stops at 45 or 90 minutes. They never show the injury time up on the scoreboard. So now you have no idea when the game is really ending. Absolutely ridiculous. I have a novel idea. Press the stop button on the clock during an injury so that everyone always knows how much time there is. This really is not that complex, but some reason nobody has sat back and said “this is idiotic” lets fix it.

Since we are on the subject of injuries. F/S players are some of the biggest cry babies ever. I have seen peewee football games with less crying. Diving is unbelievably rampant. Players on both sides will dive if they are so much as touched. I know they are trying to draw a foul but really it cheapens the game and not to mention slows the game down (as if that is possible). Really if you are going to go down with an injury if should be for a real injury. If you leave the field for any reason you should no be allowed back on for 15 minutes. If your team had to be down a player for 15 minutes of the game it might make the players think twice about diving.

On to the biggest problem Americans will have f/s. The Maltese were thrilled to play to draw against the better Turkish team. This drove me and the other American crazy. I want conclusion in my sports. No stupid draws. It felt hollow and empty. I really don’t understand how they are excited about that. Americans like winners and losers. A tie makes you feel like "why bother?". Americans will accept a tie on rare occasion but don’t love it. You have to at least play one overtime period first. There are lots of other quirks about that game that I find annoying but those are the big three. All in all the game was fun and people really get into it. I would certainly go to another game. The one thing me and my boss agreed on is we need teach the Maltese how to tailgate. Cold Cisk and hot dogs for everyone!

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