Thursday, January 3, 2008

Soccer Shootout

Play this great online game!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Dark Side Of Soccer

Soccer riots have always been something of a mystery. The violence in hockey is at least reconcilable. Grown men in heavy outfits skating at high speeds with sharp blades on their feet create enough tension and energy to start a brawl in a hurry. In baseball, a hard leather ball thrown 100 mph at your head can understandably make you want to charge the mound. But soccer? Even the game happens at a slow pace and hardly inspires more than focused concentration on the field itself. American commentators jokingly portray the reason for soccer riots as its low-scoring low key nature. They often say "after paying almost $100 for seats and fighting the crowds to see two teams play an entire match an end in a 0-0 tie, you might riot too." However, to the rest of the world, soccer riots are no laughing matter.

People die

Deaths from soccer riots happen around the globe. They have been recorded in Germany, England Greece, Spain, South Africa, Italy and Latin America. In 2001, a soccer riot in Ghana claimed the lives of 138 people. While it is in our human nature to have a visceral response and succumb to mob mentality the fact that any fan would be killed simply watching a soccer game is tragedy at its height. All sports should make players and fans more noble, and more a part of the tapestry of humanity. Loss of life at a soccer game shows how truly far we have fallen from our ability to connect with one another.

Politics enter

What distinguishes soccer from many other sports is its international acclaim. Soccer isn't a property of any one country, people, or race but is an international phenomenon, encompassing a diversity of people, ideas and landscapes. Because of the vast diversity of participants in the game, world politics often play an unfortunate part in soccer rioting. When countries become enemies or evoke different political positions the residents often let the soccer team play out their frustration. This creates an angry energy and misdirection from the good of the sport to the violence in the stands. A soccer riot at a game between Iran and Japan was said to be motivated by protesters fed up with Iran's gender rights violence. The erupting riot left three dead. In 2004 a soccer riot in Rome was planned to protest the government's spending in regard to education and sports. When the tension of the world around invades the field of sport, everybody loses.

Antisocial behavior

Unfortunately, soccer seems unable to separate itself from its reputation as a riotous adventure. This draws fans wanting to be part of the mob mentality and creates an atmosphere of antisocial and anti-authority behavior. The number one casualty of any soccer riot is generally the police or authorities who have come to maintain order in and around the stadium. Gangs of young people calling themselves "soccer hooligans" have purposely begun to infiltrate the world of soccer to spread their own brand of antiauthoritarian violence.

The Olympian model of athletic competition put forth that when individuals and teams compete at the best of their ability all of society is a nurtured and inspired by their progress. Soccer rioting has the opposite effect on the sport as a whole and harms the common good.

Monday, December 17, 2007

2018 Fifa World Cup

There has been a lot of talk recently about the bidding for the 2018 Football World Cup. England, China and Australia have all put their hands up as the three most likely prospective hosts. As an Australian it would be fantastic for the world cup to come down under. I had a look at some of the factors which could determine who gets the honor of hosting in 11 years time.

There are several factors as to why we can win the right to host and also why we won?t. Some of the negatives which would adversely affect Australia's chances include the different time zone. We are the other side of the world from the most football developed countries in the world. Europe, North and South America as well as Africa would struggle with television timetables. Asia however is in a similar time zone and is also one of the target growth areas for FIFA. Australia doesn't have the stadiums and infrastructure in place to host a world cup. FIFA rules state that one city can have two stadiums and that all other host cities must have a stadium with a capacity of 40,000. This means that either Sydney or Melbourne would have two stadiums with Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Canberra, Newcastle and the Gold Coast having one stadium each. As many of the stadiums in these cities are Aussie rules oval shaped then new stadiums would have to be built in many of these cities.

However some of the positive factors which could see us host the World Cup. We have an excellent track record when holding major events. Sydney 2000 and Melbourne 2006 have shown the world that we can host world class events and host them well. We are a sport loving nation and crowds will be at capacity because everyone will want to go. If Australia goes out early, then people will get behind another country. Another factor which could help is the fact that we are an English speaking country and communication is easier for overseas spectators.

England is the current favorite to host because of a number of reasons. They have established infrastructure and stadiums. They are hosting the 2012 Olympic Games and have the opportunity to show off their hosting abilities. England, although being the home of football is not well liked by the rest of Europe. They have the reputation of never contributing to the world of football by being unsuccessful in major competitions. Crowds in England might also be less likely to attend games after England has been knocked out.

China has a real chance at hosting the 2018 event. They are hosting the Olympic Games and will get a chance to show off their event management. As I said earlier FIFA is trying to target Asia as a key growth area and have China host in 2018 would be a major boost to the sport in that region. Problems with the Chinese bid may include the pollution problems that they have over there as well as their poor human rights record.

It is a tough one to call but as much as I want Australia to host the 2018 World Cup I think England will get the gig. By 2018 it will have been 12 years since the world cup as been to Europe. Plus if it is held in Australia it will be three successive World Cups in the southern hemisphere. But saying that it there is still a long way to go.