One Game…

…does indeed change everything.

First off, a big congrats to Italy for winning the World Cup today, defeating France in a penalty shoot out, 5-3, after placing to a 1-1 tie after 120 minutes. It was a bit unfortunate to see Zinedine Zidane red carded in extra time for a very unsportsmanlike headbutt. I celebrated, along with my two dogs after Fabio Grosso buried the 5th and decisive penalty kick that began the celebration, not only for the team for all of Italy and their supporters.

For the readers of The 6th Floor, this will be the final comments I have on Germany 2006, probably a relief to some of you. Let’s look back at the positives. The obvious, Italy hoisting the cup and celebrating into the night. For the most part great sportsmanship through many of the games, as competitive as they were. The host country of Germany doing a great job at all the venues and showing such support for all the countries involved.

As for the negative, I don’t know why I will dwell on these, because I have mentioned this previously. First the poor coverage from ESPN and ABC. Case in point, today as the aging Jim McKay apologized to all the golf fans for having to cut away from the tournament to cover World Cup “soccer.” What an asshole! The only real reason that ESPN and ABC picked up coverage was for advertising revenue, NOT for true coverage of the event. Sorry, but starting 5 minutes prior to the match with very little pregame is not how to lead up to such a coveted event.

The announcers on ESPN and ABC were terrible [outside of Adrian Healey and Tommy Smyth, whom I applaud]. I have already commented on Eric Wynalda and Julie Foudy, lending of “their” opinion and supposed insight into “soccer” at least the American version. John Harkes, regardless of his standing in the world of US soccer as well as Marcelo Balboa both should retire from announcing. I will give them this, they could play well, but announcing is not their strong suite. The term “homer” comes to mind when I think back of their Americanized commentary of a world sport. Both ESPN and ABC get an ‘F’ in my book for their lackluster coverage. But I am sure they are rolling in ad revenue.

I got so fed up today with ABC, I switched over to Univision, one of two local Spanish stations that provided FULL coverage, start to finish of Italy versus France. Oddly enough, once the match was over on the penalty kick, ABC switched back to golf. Happy golf fans? I am sure it made Mr. McKay’s day to be back on the links and not covering an event is cannot relate to. So much for ABC Sports being the “worldwide leader.” Univision did a great job! Sure, I could not understand a damn thing, since speak English, but I could pick up player names and some words, like “pelota” or ball. But the announcers were much more passionate about the game, excited to be covering a true world championship, unlike those that Americans can relate to.

I do think FIFA needs to look back into the infractions committed during the tournament, with the most yellow and red cards handed out during the 64 games. While there were many quality football games between squads, there was some poor officiating at times. I think many of the officials were rather inconsistent rather than bad. I don’t believe instant replay has a place on the world’s stage, but I also do not want to see referees deciding the outcome of the game, which did happen a few times in Germany 2006. I don’t want to know an official’s name at anytime during the tournament [see the jackass from the US v Italy game or Portugal v Netherlands].

Overall, it was a great event, I’m still filled with excitement and joy to see “my team” win for the fourth time. In fact, I am wearing out my Italy jersey, as I type this now. Cannot wait for the new Serie A to get underway in Italy. I did see this as a team that overcame much adversity and controversy back home to raise the cup in celebration.

The past 30 days have been great, as I was able to watch all 64 matches [considered by many American’s to be “boring”] when getting home from work at 7am. I was able to introduce my 7 month old son, Zachary to the world’s game. Rest assured I will be teaching him the sport when he gets a bit older. As for football…errr…soccer being an American game, sorry it will never be. Youth soccer will continue to pull in amazing numbers, but the attention span of your typical American can’t comprehend the sport. Guess staying in front of your TV for 45 minutes, without a beer break is impossible.