I’ve never really thought about some of the regulations in the game of football from the perspective of making the game portable, so I found Ed Felten’s take on How Not to Fix Soccer interesting.
I’ve long been aware that a lot of US schools shun American football in favour of regular football (I’m not saying soccer you idiots) because all you need is a ball to play, so it’s a lot cheaper, but I’ve never broken down the reasons behind it.
There is one thing, one reason, he forgot though: flow. There’s a reason football reaches such great crescendos of excitement that most sports don’t: it’s non-stop. Everything is designed to allow the games to continue for 45 minutes largely uninterrupted. Unlike American football, or hockey, or baseball, where they even stop for ad breaks. To quote Wikipedia:
A standard football game consists of four 15-minute quarters (12-minute quarters in high-school football and often shorter at lower levels), with a 12 minute half-time intermission after the second quarter. The clock stops after certain plays; therefore, a game can last considerably longer (often more than three hours in real time), and if a game is broadcast on television, TV timeouts are taken at certain intervals of the game to broadcast commercials outside of game action.
So a game that should take less than an hour-and-a-quarter regularly goes three times that. Maybe they need to look at the rules of their own games and simplify them to make them run faster.
I used to be a supporter of letting all of the teams in FIFA’s world rankings compete for a place in the World Cup, but I am now coming round to the argument that teams like Andora should go through a pre-qualification phase before they’re allowed to play against the bigger teams.
One of Andora’s players plays in Spain’s fourth division, another in Italy’s second, most aren’t full-time footballers. We don’t let teams that low start playing against premier league teams in the FA Cup, why should we do it at international level?
To give you an idea. There are 207 teams in the world ranking, Andora rank 196, so there are only 11 teams in the world below them. The other teams in England’s World Cup qualifying group are:
- Kazakhstan, ranked 132
- Ukraine, ranked 19
- Croatia, ranked 8
- Belarus, ranked 81
England are ranked 6th. So, my thinking is, why are we playing Andora, Kazakhstan and Belarus? Let them have a pre-tournament and earn the right to play teams in the top 50. Otherwise we risk turning internationals into a pointless exercise.
So, the people who run the Premier League hit fans with a stunner earlier last week, they’re thinking of adding a game to the season which would be played overseas, in a location from a pot of cities that could bid to host a Premier League game (with no guarantees what they would get).
My first reaction was that this was blatant profiteering. I didn’t think they were interested in the game, or the fans, or the benefits to English football, it was purely about the potential monetary benefits. This is a league, after all, that split from the Football League so it could control the TV rights and demand a better deal, which it got. The Premier League is now the richest league in the world, hell, the Championship (our second division) is ranked 6th in terms of revenue. Why do the teams want to make more money?