Category Archives: Soccer

The Charcoal Writing Is On The Wall

Cate Blanchett stumped for the cause of a carbon price and got a ripping from the Murdoch press. What followed was an admission by Dick Smith that he agreed with Blanchett but was too ‘gutless’ to front up for his beliefs for he feared exactly the sort of treatment Blanchett was receiving from the Murdoch press. Dick Smith even pointed to Murdoch’s own words about climate change and implored the employer of these institutional climate change deniers. to come back and set them straight. Barnaby Joyce charged that Blanchett was unfit to comment as she was rich. Adam Bandt pointed out that so was Gina Rinehart and that it didn’t stop her from campaigning for her own personal gain. Blanchett at least is campaigning for the common good – an important distinction.

Since then it’s been a bit of a free for all.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, did not overplay Blanchett’s involvement, saying she was as entitled as anybody else to have her voice heard on the issue.
Mr Abbott dismissed her as a celebrity who was out of touch. ”You do not give special weight to celebrities,” he said. ”You do not give special weight to people who live half the year in Hollywood where there is no carbon tax.”

That last bit is a bit (pardon the pun) rich. It points to a deeply undemocratic vein in Tony Abbott’s political outlook but I won’t go into that too much. Barnaby Joyce’s denunciations too reveal a largely patriarchal anxiety wherein he is acutely aware that the beauty bias runs against him. If he had to stump up next to Cate Blanchett, he can’t win because she is far better looking, better known and liked.

Still, it’s this patriarchal libertarian leave-me-alone-to-do-as-I-will entitlement of bloke-ishness that seems to glavanise around the political end of the carbon price debate; and it’s the school-marmish restraint of women like Julia Gillard and Cate Blanchett who are arguiing strongly for restraint of carbon emissions and a means of setting price point to discourage excessive emissions. No wonder the barbecue-loving blokes are going flipper and tongs at Cate Blanchett, ad hominem.

Well this is not about Cate Blanchett’s right to side with the Carbon Price. It’s about where the debate will ultimately go, and should go.

The Carbon Price debate is going to crash over the line with a lot of screaming rhetoric, but in the end the big end of town knows it needs to be done, and that if the discussions go past 1 July, it will be the Greens who will control the debate in the Upper House. This would suggest that it is incumbent upon the Coalition to represent the big end of town and secure the best deal they can out of the wounded Labor party before they both get taken hostage by the Greens – but no, it’s Tony Abbott at the helm.

It’s not just me saying it.

Abbott’s whole “big new tax” campaign shuns acknowledgment of the real point, as does his alleged alternative strategy of paying farmers to bury carbon. It has worked in scaring voters and perhaps raised the hopes of a few gullible cockies, but it’s also created investment uncertainty and is contributing to wobbly consumer confidence.
Keep shouting that the Government is taking Australia down the drain, that our macro economic policy is a total failure, and some people will be silly enough to believe it. The mindless simplification of budget policy into “surplus good, deficit bad” has been effectively debunked by Ross Gittins but don’t expect most of the media to understand it.

But the ructions of the past week within the Liberal Party might indicate the very people who gave Abbott the job somewhat by default (remember that Joe Hockey didn’t stand) are beginning to realise there are limits to Total Opposition. More pragmatically, they know Labor is so on the nose, the Liberal Party can afford to be seen to have some principles again.

Labor presently thinks Tony Abbott is the best thing going for it. If they can implement their Malaysian boat people solution, their (rather simplistic) hope is that a very mild carbon tax then proves to be a non-issue upon implementation, leaving Abbott as the attack dog without a bone to worry.

Tony Abbott and his climate-change denying cohorts are an embarrassment.

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Sour Grapes Of Wrath

Payback Begins

Walk-Off HBP gave me the heads up to this article.

English football, by far the richest in world football has begun its revenge on those that lied and thought that they would be teaching English football a lesson after the corrupt world cup hosting votes last Thursday.

The first victim is Thailand, the friendly set up with the England national team will now be canceled and it will not stop there.

Jack Warner, one of the biggest thieves and crooks in world football is number one on the English FA’s hit list after his outright lies to support the English bid, training academies and other projects funded by English football are also on the chopping block.

There are also serious moves within the FA to actually quit Fifa and go it alone, the days when world football could cope without England are gone, they need the vast amount of money that English football generates and reports today are that the English FA are to meet with the Australian, Spanish and USA FA’s to discuss a possible breakaway.

Nice to see good old vengeance in action. I think it’s worth considering pulling out of FIFA for Australia because there is no better time than to reforge the relationships in the game. 22 compromised Committee members to decide the whereabouts of 2 World Cups has end with the Russian Mafia and Qatari oil men winning their bids with less than satisfactory bids. Sour grapes may actually be a rational and reasonable response, after all, who the hell wants to contest a World Cup in Qatar, and how does the technically inferior Russian bid beat the English bid?

The utter absence of rhyme or reason gives ample ammunition to the simple argument, “why support this crap a minute longer?”

If the Americans and the English and Spain want to go it alone, then it’s worth hitching Australia’s wagon to that breakaway because frankly, Australia’s always gotten the short end of the stick from FIFA. Quite frankly, if they want Australia to stay, maybe they should have done more than to throw her a bone once in 35 years. I say it makes just as much sense to leave FIFA and deal with nations that at least share our cultural sense of fairness as well as grievances.

How Fucked Are They, Really?

Here’s an article about Australia’s consultant to the 2022 bid Paul Hargitay.

Mr Hargitay told News Ltd over the weekend that Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy had “more access to the FIFA president [Sepp Blatter] than anybody I know because I arranged it”.

He also claimed Mr Blatter “was devastated” after Australia lost.

When asked why FIFA would back Qatar despite its crippling heat and lack of infrastructure, Mr Hargitay indicated Australia could not compete with the money being offered by the resource rich nation.

“You go figure it out. What do you think? What do you think motivates people, 14 of them, to vote for a country the population of Zurich, to vote for a country that is the size of Fiji, to vote for a country where the infrastructure to play host to millions of fans still has to be created … You go figure, how can 14 men make that decision?” he told SBS.

“The most fundamental mistake we [Australia] made, and there can be no other way, is that we played it clean.”

It’s all juicy stuff, but I thought that summed it up. Sepp Blatter of course was the man who said Australia was robbed in 2006 but there wasn’t much he could do about it except say sorry. I don’t know what to make of the man – it doesn’t seem like he’s a president of anything when you consider how the 22 committee members voted to get Russia and Qatar to be the hosts. It’s like they threw more than caution to the wind. Things like, practicality, honesty, genuine concern for the event and the game plus a few other bits.

Which all goes back to the first point. It might be worth Australia quitting FIFA. Who needs this in your nation’s life when it costs 40+million of tax payers’ money to bid, only to lose it all to cheats and gangsters and liars and swindlers?

Sepp Blatter is not the Pope. It’s not like the religious Reformation of the 16th-17th Century. Walk away, I say.

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Russia? Qatar?

Why I Hate Soccer Part 666

I think I’ve written in previous posts why I hate soccer – and yes I’ve decided I’m going to willfully keep calling it that rather than it’s preferred title ‘football’ – so I won’t rehash old bits of resentment and contempt and humiliation and more resentment. I will say this though: I can’t think of another game in sport that can break its fans’ hearts over and over again and still draw a crowd.

This could be because the crowds for soccer include hooligans whereas fans of other sports have too much self-respect. I’ve been thinking if there has been any moment in tennis or cricket or golf or baseball or rugby or basketball that got this stupid so as to award the biggest event in its game to the Russian mafia and Qatari oil dollars? Well, League split into Super League and not-so Super League at one point, but Rugby League is a game for gang-rapists and dog-fuckers. Should it even count?

It’s one thing for Australia with all its sports-nut-wonderland mentality to go in and bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but for England that lost its bid even though it had the best technical bid for 2018 and got 2 votes out of 22 basically tells you it’s not worth bidding for the FIFA World Cup if your best argument is genuine merit.

The sour grapes thing to say would be that the World Cup sucks anyway – it doesn’t. It’s a wonderful thing when it happens – but I have to say my estimation of FIFA and soccer as a sport has gone down even more with these shenanigans. These guys make Bud Selig look like a saint. And if you knew Bud Selig’s standing in the baseball fandom, then you would understand that’s saying quite a bit. This makes the much-maligned World Baseball Classic look so-o-o-o good.

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Sport Nut Weekend

Get Some Perspective On The World Cup

The big news this morning is how dismally Australia lost to Germany in its first match in the World Cup. 4-0 sure is a whuppin’, and nobody has anything nice to say about Australia’s sons of the moment, the Socceroos.

Australia for all its posturing this time is mostly an older team of the same old guys from 2006. They couldn’t have expected to do better than last time.

That delusion lasted as long as it took for decoy forward Richard Garcia to snatch a shot on the turn, only to have it blocked. The rest of the match was benign tyranny, football royalty lording it over commoners. Or, eschewing empirical metaphors, the Germans’ movements were intricate, precise and oily, like a German- engineered car. Australia bumped along in a paddock basher.

The goals hurt; of course, they did. But they were only to be expected, and deceptive in their simplicity; it was the simplicity that lies on the other side of complexity. The multitude of bookings hurt, because they had implications not only on the night, but for whatever Australia can hope to salvage from this tournament now. They also implied that Australia was a team of second resort.

But the red card for the talismanic Tim Cahill hurt most, because it was the massacre of hope.

Beneath the croaking of the vuvuzelas, there was now a hush. Even the German fans appeared shocked. The sentiment trapped inside the stadium now was more like a fart. Coach Pim Verbeek did not bother with Harry Kewell, or Josh Kennedy or Marco Bresciano; it would have been a waste of their time. A crowd of more than 60,000 thinned by half. Miserably, many of the Australians were going home to tents.

Australia thought it was better than this. Australia WAS better than this, four years ago. Hell, Australia was better than this in the 1974 World Cup when a team of amateurs played a stronger West German team than this German team, and lost by merely 3-0. It took more than 30 years to return to the World Cup as peers. This setback will have repercussions for a long time, on the field and off.

Which is a bit mean. I just want to write this post because I want us to get some perspective on what it is that the Socceroos were up against.

Firstly, without a shred of a doubt this tournament means more to Germans than any Australian. Germany is a three time winner of the World Cup and it’s almost the only World Cup they contest. They don’t contest the Cricket, Rugby World Cups, and they sure as hell don’t send squads to the World Baseball Classic. I can’t quite recall if they’ve ever threatened to win Olympic Gold in Ice Hockey. I don’t think they even field a credible Basketball team, while Australia does. I don’t even know if they have ever sent a team to the Netball World Cup. Soccer/Football is the it sport in Germany.

Australia on the other hand contest just about all of these World Comps except maybe Ice Hockey, but I’m sure there will eventually be a marsupially named squad in the future trying to get there. The point is, it’s a bit rich for Australia to come at Football with the hopes of rolling with the top-5 nation of the sport. Or even Top-8. And if they don’t, it’s no slur on Australia’s sporting prowess for not being within shouting distance of drawing with Germany. Being there, competing on the World Cup Stage is already an immense, towering accomplishment for the sport in Australia.

Some people are saying it’s an embarrassing loss. I just can’t go with that, even though a) I hate soccer and b) am no fan of soccer fandom, I have an appreciation of how deep the world’s love for that sport is and where that depth is spread. There are nations out there that have no shot of being there, but it’s still their no.1 sport. Think about that for a moment. It’s like the no.5-6 sport in Australia in terms of exposure and we’ve got a team competing against the best of the best.

Talking about this match without that perspective is really disrespectful for an opponent that’s steeped in the sport. It is inherently insane for Australia to think that it can equally be competitive at the ultimate level at Football. So much would have to change for Australia to be that good.

A World Cup Of What? – Part 1

This all got me to thinking about this notion of World Cups. Cricket’s World Cup and the Baseball World Baseball Classic field 16 teams in the group stage. In either competition, the tail end of the 16 look a little ragged. It’s really the top-8 in each competition that has a shot at the last 4 with few surprises. The gap between the top 8 and next 8 nations is in fact huge.

The same applies to the Rugby World Cup. Japan has been turning up to the Rugby World Cup each time but it’s never gotten out of the group stage. Japan has the distinction of copping the worst hiding in Test matches, but it has also handed out the next worst hiding to minnows Taiwan. Should they be there or not? If they weren’t there, would it still be a ‘World Cup’? You could argue Rugby isn’t too deep, but then there are such results as the horrible thrashing Australia handed out to Canada in cricket at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

In each case, there’s the Top 8 and the rest.

While it is true that the World Cup of Football fields 32 teams in the group stage from 200 odd nations, it is arguable that it is only the top-8 that have a serious shot at the finals. Yes, Football is deep and wide across the planet, but at its core it’s still only about 8 nations. The rest of them are like window dressing to make the word ‘World’ stand up. We should revel in the fact that we make such good window-dressing.

A World Cup of What? – Part 2

Here are some rhetorical questions to go with the above:

Is it any surprise that Australia has won 2 Rugby World Cups?

Is it any surprise that Australia has won 4 Cricket World Cups?

Is it any surprise that Japan is a 2-time champion at the World Baseball Classic?

Is it any surprise that Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup 5 times?

Is it any surprise that Germany hasn’t won a World Cup in Cricket or Rugby, or that it hasn’t even fielded a team in the WBC?

Dare we even mention the Rugby League World Cup?

Is it reasonable/rational to expect Australia to get out of the Group Stage at the FIFA World Cup?

The Wrong Code

Australia will never relinquish League and AFL and Rugby in order to concentrate on one code of football. Therefore should we even hope to win the FIFA World Cup one day? We’re the equivalent of the Kenyans at the Cricket World Cup.

In other news, the Yankees are on top of the AL East having swept the Astros. I’m pleased with that.

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I Still Hate Soccer But…

Socceroos Are World’s 16th Best Team

It’s hard to believe that the Socceroos would suddenly leap 13 spots in the FIFA world rankings, but they’ve done that on the back of their World Cup qualifying campaign. Yes, they’re now ranked No.16. Even if it is just for this month, this is a tremendous outcome. I’m sure it’s raised a few eyebrows in Europe and South America.

You can just see the eyeballs popping out of the Uruguayans and Portuguese fans as they open the sports sections. like, “What? Australia are ahead of our guys?”

Watch out for falling Uruguayans.

I love it when the rest of the world underestimate how insane we are about our sport. I hate soccer intensely and I still follow it. That just shows you how nutso we are here.  Anyway… here’s the ranking down to 20, and then some other nations of interest.

1. Brazil (+4)
2. Spain (-1)
3. Netherlands (-1)
4. Italy (0)
5. Germany (-2)
6. Russia (+3)
7. England (-1)
8. Argentina (-1)
9. France (+1)
10. Croatia (-2)
11. Greece (+6)
12. USA (+2)
13. Switzerland (+3)
14. Serbia (+6)
15. Denmark (+9)
16. Australia (+13)
17. Portugal (-6)
18. Cote d’Ivoire (+20)
19. Ukraine (0)
20. Uruguay (-3)
Selected
28. Turkey (-16)
30. Gabon (+18)
33. Mexico (-7)
37. Ireland (-3)
38. Egypt (+2)
40. Japan (-9)
48. South Korea (-2)
100. New Zealand (-18)

I don’t know if it kills Japan to drop 9 places to 40, or South Korea to drop 2 and still be 8 behind of Japan. 🙂

God only knows how they come up with these rankings. It must be a combination of how they scored and gave up goals versus a weighted comparison of competition faced. Still, placing 16th in this context is a huge breakthrough for soccer in Australia. It means that these players can finally make their home country understand just what it is that they do that is so damned important for Australia. We can cue the band-wagon fans to jump aboard about now.

100 for NZ seems like a nice round number, and thanklessly, they’ve dropped 18 places even though they came top in Oceania. How a nation can win their zone and still drop 18 spots must drive the Kiwis mad – if only they valued it as highly as they value Rugby.That being said, the Oceania portion of the World Cup qualifications is like the boonie-town tour for football.

Remember those horror days for Australia? Well, now they’re the top team in Asia. Weird.

The Socceroos are now ranked ahead of a host of nations with rich football histories, notably one place ahead of European powerhouses Portugal, who boast arguably the world’s best player Cristiano Ronaldo.

They have also overtaken European big guns Czech Republic and Turkey, South American giants Paraguay and Uruguay, plus every team in Africa.

“We are delighted at this news,” Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley said.

“Rankings are not the be all and end all of football but they are certainly an indicator of our progress.

“The more competitive games we play, the greater the opportunity to improve our position in the world rankings and the more match hardened the team becomes.

“This is a great reward for the Socceroos’ form in the qualifying rounds for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“Once again, we congratulate coach Pim Verbeek and the players for their efforts.”

Australia’s cause was helped by a string of impressive results in June in the final stages of their successful qualification campaign.

A scoreless draw with Qatar in Doha, which sealed their spot for South Africa 2010, was followed by wins against Bahrain and Japan in Australia.

Socceroos players spoke last month about their disappointment at the lack of credit they had been given for their emphatic qualification, but they will take solace in Wednesday’s official FIFA recognition.

I dunno if that’s so great. Australia as a baseball nation is actually ranked higher than No.16… 🙂 Jokes aside, maybe it’s the case that soccer has finally arrived in Australia when the Socceroos are considered in the company of Denmark and Portugal.

Be that as it may… I still hate soccer, but this is a very good day for Australian Soccer.

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