With Italy's excellent theatrical performance last night against NZ it is time to air again this fantastic ad...
Rugby is NZ's national sport so with our team (the All Whites) making the football world cup (the first time in 28 years) its a big thing and brings the game of soccer into the spotlight.
We are one of the biggest underdogs in the tournament, and although not expected to get through to the next round have drawn the two games we have played. Last night it was against the reigning world champions. Our boys played with a NZ psyche -- giving it their best shot. "Possession favoured the Italians 57% versus 43%, Shots on goal 23 vs 3, shots on target 7 vs 1 and corners a staggering 15 to 0. And that is without mentioning that Italy can select from a pool of 3541 professional players which New Zealand can count on 25 who earn their living on a football field."
A great game but marred by the "Hollywood conmen" and the ref's biased whistle blowing. I don't believe this is sour grapes, I just wished the penalties and free kicks were given both ways and not because a player makes it look worse, or wears the ref down with his arguing. At the end of the day though I am proud of team & their achievements so far.
Enough about yesterday's game, to the game in general. According to statistics more children in NZ are now playing soccer as a regualr sport than rugby, although I think a lot then swap to rugby as they get older. I love soccer as a game, and enjoy playing it. (esp indoor soccer because you don't have to run so far!) For me the debate is not about which game is best -- that is like comparing apples to oranges. It is about the spirit of the game and the attitude with which it is played. While teaching in England we noticed that the general attitude on the football field was prevalent within the school too. Holding you hands out with the "what about him" look or the ":it wasn't me" or "that's not fair", and general disregard and respect for the person who makes the calls. You know they wont change their mind, but if you wear them down enough, then the next decision may carry a concession.
Money makes the world go round, and I don't think it is any coincidence that the huge salaries that go with professional football helps to create character or self-discipline in many of the players. It has become an arrogant and elitist sport that suffers from old-fashioned status class symbols and has failed to keep up the technological advances in sport.
I love sport, and soccer is a great game, but professional football is for spoilt little brats, shame really how they have spoiled the game. Long live the underdog!