I told my friends that come world cup I would be a hypocrite. Here I am in Russia with little access to Australian sport. So when my nation plays in the world cup, it is the best I can get, so I settle for it.
As far as letting the world enjoy the game in peace is concerned, should I not be dismayed that a drachonian game is forced on the masses and that they are unaware almost that there are many either exciting football codes out there that can be played other than soccer?
Here is a list of my beefs so far this world cup, and I haven't being paying that much attention:
1) Tim Cahill was given a red card in the first game for Australia against Germany. All of the German players said he did not deserve it. Tim Cahill is currently Australia's biggest star. Australia was left with 10 players for the majority of the game, and sunk to 4-0 against this world champion side.
I hate the idea of the red card. In a moment the referee is judge, jury and executioner. Then Cahill misses the next game. To make matters worse FIFA refuse any right of appeal to a red card decision. This is authoritarianism on steroids.
2) If it wasn't bad enough what happened to Cahill, the same thing happened to Harry Kewell in the next game against Ghana. Kewell was removed from the game for the majority of the 90 minutes, there by greatly decreasing Australia's chances of winning and advancing in the world cup.
As far as hand ball is concerned, well my distaste for the hand ball rule goes right down to the roots of my historical dislike for the game of soccer in the first place. It is such a strict and ugly rule. If we have hands, why should we not be allowed to use them. Every other code of football allows use of the hands.
In the case of Kewell's hand ball, he did nothing deliberate, and therefore did not deserve a red card. He was punished enough with the penalty goal that ensued. But with the red card, three punishments were effectively handed out for breaking a rule that shouldn't even exist in my book.
Players can use their chests and heads, but if they use their shoulders this is somehow different? It is a very different thing from picking the ball up with your hands, which I believe is the original sentiment of the hand ball rule. The hand ball rule is simply Eton School snobbery in my book. (Eton School invented the rule in the early days of the evolution of football codes in England.)
Kewell and Pim Verbeek have both been quoted as saying he would have had to cut off his arm to avoid the handball. I think all soccer players should cut off their arms.... or effectively the rules of soccer are as evil as cutting off a person's arms.
3) So I have had my whinge so far about the persecution of Australia in this world cup. Us Aussies have been enjoying seeing New Zealand do so well in this world cup, and it is almost a consolation, that if Australia doesn't advance perhaps New Zealand will, and we can vicariously enjoy their success.
In last night's game I said to my wife that Italy would cheat to try to win, just like they did against Australia in the last world cup. New Zealand scored the first goal, and were on the road to glory. So what does Italy do? They feign another pathetic fall and score a penalty, that was completely unjustified. Either soccer referees are complete idiots or they are corrupt. My bet is with the latter. They were again bribed by the Italians.
At least New Zealand escaped with a draw which is still a moral victory, but it may not be enough for them to advance.
Penalty ... Italy's Daniele De Rossi falls to the ground after a challenge by Tommy Smith was judged a foul. Photo: Reuters
4) Lastly, Italy have proved that there are very few elite nations who are actually allowed to win the world cup. Sure enough there is a huge gap in skill and talent anyway, but even if they slip, they always have corruption on their side.
In all the history of the world cup there are only 7 nations who have won. Uruguay won back in the 30s when they hosted it and soccer was still developing as a sport. They are no longer a threat. England won in 1966, but always seem to be in disarray and are no real threat either. France won once on home soil in 1998. That leaves four genuine contenders at every world cup: Germany, Italy, Brazil and Argentina. France and England could be considered dark horses. Everybody else is making up the numbers. If any nation threatens to have a little bit of success like Australia or New Zealand then there are various official forms of cheating to push them back down.
Australia and New Zealand should just go back to playing Rugby... and AFL of course!