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After all these years

November 17th, 2005

The Socceroos are finally through to the World Cup, after beating Uruguay 1-0 last night, then winning a penalty shootout. They certainly deserved the win, dominating most of the game, while the Uruguayans mostly seemed happy enough to hold the goal difference down to one (though they still came close to scoring in extra time, against the run of play).

Although the shootout was exciting to watch, and we got the result, I can’t help feeling this is an unsatisfactory way of resolving a tied game (or, in this case, a tied series). I’d prefer more extra time, maybe with a rule change like sending the goalkeepers off.

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  1. Dave Ricardo
    November 17th, 2005 at 06:54 | #1

    “The Socceroos are finally through to the World Cup”

    They got through because they sacked their nice guy ineffective coach who had failed before and replaced him with someone who could get the job done.

    Kim Beazley is Frank Farina.

  2. Roberto
    November 17th, 2005 at 06:55 | #2

    Forza Australia!

    Personally I enjoy the Russian Roulette aspect of penalties.

    FIFA ran the option of a Golden Goal some years back, then replaced by the Silver Goal system.

    Let the players ought it out and a return to Golden Goal is my preference rather than fiddling with removing players.

  3. Homer Paxton
    November 17th, 2005 at 07:14 | #3

    yes replace Beazley with Sir Guus of hiddink.
    He has dutch courage!

  4. Dave Ricardo
    November 17th, 2005 at 07:39 | #4

    Homer,

    I knew you’d come up with a bad pun.

    John Aloisi sure went nuts after he scored that penalty. When he took his shirt off, I thought we were going to get The Full Montevideo.

  5. James Farrell
    November 17th, 2005 at 07:43 | #5

    In a tournament grand final, a penalty shoot-out is just a bit of fun to reward the crowd for its patience, and release the tension. It’s fair in a way, because it marks the result as essentially a draw. Endless replays would be like tennis sets that go to 23-21: the result would be arbitrary and do injustice to the loser.

    However, a World Cup qualifier is a bit different because there’s so much at stake. A third match would make sense, but it might encourage defensive, Norwegian-style play.

  6. pompomtom
    November 17th, 2005 at 07:48 | #6

    Schwarzer for PM!

  7. Katz
    November 17th, 2005 at 08:07 | #7

    JQ, I agree with your comments about rule changes to improve the game of soccer.

    Here are some more.

    1. Allow players to pick up the ball, as befits a species with opposable thumbs.

    2. Play with an ovoid ball.

    3. Make scoring more dynamic with four upright posts at either end.

    4. Change the shape of the pitch to a large oval.

    Who knows, the amended game may have a future.

  8. James Farrell
    November 17th, 2005 at 08:18 | #8

    Katz, you are unfunny and out of your depth. The opposable thumbs are thoroughly utilised in covert shirt-tugging.

  9. MB
    November 17th, 2005 at 08:26 | #9

    The Socceroos were very lucky, but deserved to qualify nevertheless. Hiddink will receive most of the credit, but the Uruguayans were pitiful, particularly in attack. Uruguay has never fielded a worse side.

    As for John’s comments regarding the penalty shoot-out, I am in full agreement (I am a die-hard Italy fan, and anyone who follows soccer will understand my reasons). The shoot-out has been around since the 1980s. Before this, the match would have been replayed 3 days later.

  10. Homer Paxton
    November 17th, 2005 at 08:37 | #10

    agree MB but luck usually follows the better side although not against Iran.

    Penalty shootouts are horrible.
    play until a result!!

  11. Ugly Dave
    November 17th, 2005 at 08:54 | #11

    You had to feel a bit for St. Guus at the end. His impassive face was saying “Oh sh*t they actually did it. Now the real hard work begins”.

    There will be some hard decisions for him to take over the next few months if Australia is to advance at all beyond the round-robin group.

    He certainly will be earning whatever fee the FFA is paying him.

    At least he will have supportive board and sponsors behind him.

    The unsung heros of the win include Qantas for providing the charter flight home and Frank Farina who did in fact coach this team until four months ago and who probably does not deserve some of the criticism heaped upon him (- except that he didn’t win).

  12. November 17th, 2005 at 10:38 | #12

    They deserved to win and did so. Thank goodness Kewell’s mistimed shot on goal in the first half ended up at the feet of Bresciano, or it all could have turned out quite differently…

  13. November 17th, 2005 at 11:10 | #13

    Of course, we all know who deserves the real credit for the Socceroos’ win. Last year John Safran went to Mozambique to lift the witchdoctors curse. Apparently the curse was applied when the Australian team used a witch doctor to make sure they beat Rhodesia in a WCQ for the 1970 World Cup – but then didn’t pay him, so he reversed the curse. This reversal has allegedly caused all of the suffering and pain that has wrecked all of the potential of Australian Football throughout the last 30-odd years. (Info from http://www.goal.com/NewsDetail.aspx?idNews=100285&idSez=147)

    Last night commentator Craig Foster was the only one thanked John Safran. He definitely deserves more of the credit.

  14. Dave Ricardo
    November 17th, 2005 at 11:18 | #14

    Australia was eliminated by Israel in the 1970 WCQs.

    That reminds me. Whatever happened to Michael Burgess?

    Where was I? Oh, yes. But Australia made the following World Cup finals. The curse must have only worked with a lag. Of course, the coach of the 1974 team, Rale Rasic, was cursed, never coaching Australia again, depite taking them to the WC. (And only 16 teams made it in those days. It was every man and his dog that we have today.)

    Some people argue that Rasic was sacked because he was a public supporter of Gough Whitlam and the head of Australian soccer, Sir Arthur George, was a well known Liberal supporter. I reckon it was because of the witchdoctor.

  15. Homer Paxton
    November 17th, 2005 at 11:31 | #15

    No they were merely incomppetent crooks.

    Rasic was replaced by an english 4th Divsion coach ( Brian Green) who when he resigned was replaced by Jimmy shoulder, a person who had never coached a footbal team in his life.

    michael come back as the Socceroos won and we are German bound!

  16. November 17th, 2005 at 11:37 | #16

    Have to agree, John. I was at the game last night, and felt it was a terrible anticlimax to have a shootout after two hours of engrossing soccer.

    The win would have been far more legitimate if Australia had won “on the field.”

    I’m sure that the tied match problem for soccer could be solved with some field changes and a golden point rule as a last resort.

  17. November 17th, 2005 at 11:50 | #17

    True, Australia was eliminated by Israel in the 1970 WCQs.
    But Australia played and beat Rhodesia in the second round of qualifiers, which took them into the final round against Israel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_World_Cup_1970_(qualification)

  18. November 17th, 2005 at 12:13 | #18

    Penalty shootouts have always been controversial and no one likes it when it gets down to one.

    However you need an outcome

  19. Razor
    November 17th, 2005 at 12:33 | #19

    Katz is right . . .

    I mean correct.

    These pricks are going to be unbearable. How many games in the first round do they get? Three? Four? Whatever.

    Start praying this doesn’t happen for another 30 years.

    Fortunately my daughter is too young to remember any of this.

  20. November 17th, 2005 at 14:22 | #20

    My favourite alternative to penalties (assuming you don’t mind getting more injuries through sheer exhaustion) is to play golden goal extra time, but with the additional requirement that every ten minutes one player from each team has to be withdrawn (down to a minimum of, say, six-a-side…)

  21. Tom N.
    November 17th, 2005 at 14:28 | #21

    When I was a lad, if scores were tied after extra time it was decided on which team had won the most corner kicks. That seems a reasonable way still, although last night it may not have worked so well as the ref/linesmen erred several times – given goal kicks to blue when it should have been a corner to yellow.

  22. Gaby
    November 17th, 2005 at 16:08 | #22

    A truly marvellous night for Australian soccer. We started very poorly but Kewell made a huge difference when he came on.

    I thought Neill, Grella and Cahill in the second half were brilliant. Remember that great jump of Tim’s for a header against Carini that the Spainish ref, who was woeful and surely picked because his style would suit the Uruguayans mode of play, gave a free kick against him!!!

    Schwarzer was brilliant. Did what a goalie should do in penalties. Not guess but try and save the bad ones. Compare him to Carini who mostly ended up in the wrong corner whereas Schwarzer made penalty saves in about the middle half of the goal.

    Even if a goalie guesses right he will still not save a well hit penalty. Vidmar’s was probably technically the best as it just about hit the side netting.

    I think other options of deciding matches to penalties are probably inferior and turn to much on luck. And certainly not removing the goalie!! Johnny Warren was a strong proponent of progressively removing players from the field during extra time.

    Penalty taking and penalty saving are both important skills and wonderfully tested in that extreme environment. It must be an unreal feeling lining up for the shot, and totally exhilirating to see the net billow with the goalkeeper in the wrong corner.

    “Golden” and “silver” goals didn’t work because teams actually played more defensively, rather than the opposite as thought by the bureaucrats of FIFA, who have no empathty for the Beautiful Game. Teams had invested to much effort to lose by exposing their defence and would prefer to chance a shootout. An interesting scenario for game theory?

    I was also very glad to hear that Hiddink practised penalties. Many coaches don’t.

  23. James Farrell
    November 17th, 2005 at 18:26 | #23

    Ah, yes, Johnny Warren. What a shame he couldn’t be there.

    I think the key to Australia’s win was that they exhibited good all-round fitness and technique. They kept Uruguay on the defensive in the second half in particular, even though they didn’t score again. They ran hard, were usually first on the ball, won their share of challenges, and passed accurately. There were numerous beautifully-weighted passes up the field and well-timed runs by the forwards, far more than one normally expects from the Socceroos. And while Kewell did not score a spectacular goal, he was consistently effective, making himself a nasty thorn in the Uruguayan side.

  24. Colin Green
    November 17th, 2005 at 19:05 | #24

    There are sillier ways to settle a tied football game. I remember in (very) junior football cup games in the event of a draw the team who had got the most corners won. Led to some very strange play.

    Penalty shootouts are a good test of nerves, technique and fitness – but are of course not ideal. Other options like golden goal w/o time limits tend to lead to very defensive play, especially when the players are tired and can lead to games being settled by one error.

  25. November 18th, 2005 at 07:08 | #25

    Just to reinforce my reputation as a one-track minded monomaniacal crank I am going to have another crack at multiculturalism, this time through the soccer angle. The Socceroos success was partly based on the soccer administrators abandonment of multicultural ethnic identity politics as the club organizing principle.

    The A-League was deliberately organized to renounce ethnic identities and appeal to the wider provincial and national community. As one contributor to the inquiry into Australian soccer noted:

    “ethnic soccer in Australia… has in the past often had the …effect [of] dividing communities and contributing adversely to some of Australian soccer’s uglier moments with inter-ethnic rivalry and friction. The only division and sporting rivalry between the national league clubs should be the geographic location they represent.’”

    Clubs are now organized on a economic basis, based on geographic locale. Replacing ethnics with econmics allows ethics to come to the fore – breaking down barriers and caring for one another.

    Soccer matches are now no longer automaticly considered as handy venues to renew ancient ethnic vendettas. Attendances are up frm all parts of the community. And the whole nation is right behind the national team. Even Eugene Galekovic’s sister

    “”Melbourne’s keeper Eugene Galekovic is thrilled that the A-League has allowed the game to rise above its ethnic rivalries, writes Greg Baum. his sister… has been indifferent about the game. “When I was at South Melbourne, she only came to one or two games,” he said.

    “But with Victory, all her work friends, all her other friends, they love it. She’s been to every game. I think it’s maybe because all the ethnic stuff has gone and everyone’s welcome now.”"

    See what happens when we all read from the same script and all pull together as one happy little band of campers! We win.

  26. Katz
    November 18th, 2005 at 09:00 | #26

    But Jack the last time Australia was in the World Cup finals, only 16 teams were in the finals and, as you acknowledge yourself, Australian soccer was a hotbed of ethnic hatreds and communitarian corruption.

    So it’s still a bit early to decide which model — ethnic cleansing by proxy or market-driven brand names initially devoid of their own history — produces the more competitive brand of soccer.

    Probably, for Australia for the foreseeable future, national soccer success depends on the emigration of Australia’s best talent. This, of course, makes the local competition less interesting. Spectators are less likely to want to watch a competition that is perceived to be mediocre, especially when other reasons for attendance, such as waving tribal flags, have been removed. The State-based cricket competition is an example of this problem. Once upon a time thousands used to attend Sheffield Shield games. Now state cricket is a mendicant at the table of international cricket.

    On the other hand, international soccer does seem to structured as a giant pyramid scheme. The sale of talent does fund local clubs.

    Australian Basketball also grew out of its communitarian roots. The Melbourne Tigers, for example, began as Melbourne Church, an Anglican-based team centred in Box Hill. Basketball had a brief vogue but has since settled back into being a niche sport in Australia with a smallish following and reasonably respectable sponsorship. Basketball has the advantage over soccer in that cost structures are lower. And Australia’s best basketball talent is lured overseas. On the other hand, the NBL has enough money to lure overseas playing talent. Has that happened in Australian soccer yet?

    In all, the Basketball model seems to be the course laid out by the most recent crop of Australian soccer administrators.

    Modest, but workable.

  27. J
    November 18th, 2005 at 09:06 | #27

    Jack Strocchi said: “The Socceroos success was partly based on the soccer administrators abandonment of multicultural ethnic identity politics as the club organizing principle.”

    This assertion is not supported by the points you make and I struggle to see any relationship between club level ethnic identity in Australia and the success of the Socceroos. That said, I agree that the A-League is an improvement on the past and that part of the reason for this is the removal of ethnic links.

    Most of the Socceroos are based overseas and play for professional clubs with few ties to ethnic groups. When playing together as the Socceroos, the players do not “renew ancient ethnic vendettas”. This is a patently absurd assertion.

    Other reasons exist for the improved performance on the Socceroos. These include an experienced coach who has taken teams to the World Cup previously, improved funding, clever pre-match preparation (training in Europe, booking a charter flight)…

    To return though to your “crack at multiculturalism”, the Socceroos and their performance indicate the benefits of a diverse multicultural community. You need look no further than the make up of the team and its coaching staff to see that many migrant groups contribute positively to soccer in Australia. Many of the players bring a passion to the game that comes from their heritage. Some play in the lands from which their parents and grandparents migrated, and in doing so, develop as players.

    The success of the Socceroos also points to the benefits of globalisation. The team is made up of players playing for clubs around the world, is coached by a Dutchman who has worked in Asia, and trained for some time overseas.

    The beauty of the Socceroos win is that it shows the benefits of multiculturalism and globalisation. Your “crack at multiculturalism” is way off the mark.

    I’ll conclude with a caveat: there weren’t many Asian or Middle Eastern migrants contributing to the win – we must be saving them for the table tennis and the camel racing. I for one am glad that our community includes people from around the world who bring their passions with them; it means we do better across the board.

  28. MB
    November 18th, 2005 at 11:16 | #28

    The ethnic question is largely irrelevant to Australia’s qualification. The ethnic rivalries of the NSL played out more between violent thugs (as opposed to true fans) than the players themselves. That said, it’s good to see the A-League has learnt its lesson and de-ethnicised. Having clubs that associated with a particular ethnic group served only to make soccer irrelevant to Australian fans.

  29. November 18th, 2005 at 11:20 | #29

    J* Says: November 18th, 2005 at 9:06 am

    “Most of the Socceroos are based overseas and play for professional clubs with few ties to ethnic groups. When playing together as the Socceroos, the players do not “renew ancient ethnic vendettasâ€?. This is a patently absurd assertion.”

    No. I was referring to the fact that the Australian soccer clubs are now playing the game for locals rather than ethnics. This has reduced club ethnic rivalry and raised local attendances. It is independent of the national teams sense of teamship.

    Read what I wrote.

    “The A-League was deliberately organized to renounce ethnic identities and appeal to the wider provincial and national community.”

    But everyone at the game noticed that the Socceroos were playing more as a team. And the crowd were behind them like nothhing before. This is nationalism, not multiculturalism.

    “Many of the players bring a passion to the game that comes from their heritage.”

    So what about nations that do not practice multiculturalism, such as Argentina? Do they not have a passion for their national heritage? And isnt it better to cultivate that, rather than rake over the coals of acient ethnic rivalries?

    “The beauty of the Socceroos win is that it shows the benefits of multiculturalism.”

    No. The A-League was reformed, in part, to explicitly renounce ethnic identity in organizing clubs. Although different ethnics still play soccer for different clubs this is a fact of history, not an official administrative policy.
    I have no problem with ethnic *people*, it is ethnic *policy* that drives me up the wall.

    Sometime I think that multicultural philosophy/policy is like some kind of zombie or vampire that cannot be executed by normal means. It seems utterly incorrigible to standard scientific refutation. And the word has an Alice-in-Wonderland topsy-turviness that allows it to be all things to all people, a fact noticed by numerous analysts.

    * http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/11/17/after-all-these-years/#comment-37247

  30. November 18th, 2005 at 11:26 | #30

    MB Says: November 18th, 2005 at 11:16 am

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/11/17/after-all-these-years/#comment-37249

    “The ethnic question is largely irrelevant to Australia’s qualification. ”

    I disagree, although I cannot conclusively prove my point. The de-ethnicisation of Aus club soccer is certainly not irrelevant to the massive improvement in popularity that Australian soccer recently enjoyed.

    And I think that the de-ethnicisation helped to improve national team spirit and public support in the lead up to the game. This probably helped a bit during the game. It is certainly vital for the long term health of the game at municipal, national and international levels.

  31. November 18th, 2005 at 11:32 | #31

    Katz Says: November 18th, 2005 at 9:00 am

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/11/17/after-all-these-years/#comment-37246

    “But Jack the last time Australia was in the World Cup finals, only 16 teams were in the finals and, as you acknowledge yourself, Australian soccer was a hotbed of ethnic hatreds and communitarian corruption.

    So it’s still a bit early to decide which model—ethnic cleansing by proxy or market-driven brand names initially devoid of their own history—produces the more competitive brand of soccer.”

    I think that the 1974 Socceroos were freaks. Certainly when I played soccer during the long years in the wilderness I felt like one.

    Its not too early to decide which club organizing model – ethnic or economic – produces larger attendances. The integrationist one trumps the multicultural one because it broadens club appeal beyond ethnic base. And reduces the chances of turning soccer matches into replays of Balkans, Belfast, Beirut, et al which practice deters female supporters.

  32. Katz
    November 18th, 2005 at 11:39 | #32

    Jack, your last point is a paraphrase of my last point.

    In my point about 1974 I was arguing about the sources of on-field success in the World Cup competition, not the sustainability of the domestic competition.

    If economic resources and huge attendances were the determinants of competition success, then Collingwood would win the AFL every year.

    But it is a source of enormous pleasure for me at least that this isn’t the case.

  33. November 18th, 2005 at 12:02 | #33

    Katz Says: November 18th, 2005 at 11:39 am

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/11/17/after-all-these-years/#comment-37255

    “In my point about 1974 I was arguing about the sources of on-field success in the World Cup competition, not the sustainability of the domestic competition.”

    The spirit of the national team and Australian public in the Uruguay match was noticeably better than on comparable occasions under the old dispensation. This is nationalism in practice.

    I think that the 1974 Socceroo success was freakish, as shown by the absence of similar success over the next 30 odd years. The long term prospects for Socceroo international success are dependent on municipal health.

    As in most things, evolution works from the bottom-up.

  34. MB
    November 18th, 2005 at 12:10 | #34

    There is no, and never has been, any evidence to suggest national rivalries within the Australian team. As I said, these have all been external to the football itself. Australian clubs were, even during the NSL, a mix of nationalities in personnel (if not in fan support). As for the question of the support the Socceroos have attracted, that support has always been there when the qualifying matches were played. The difference was, when Australia lost, it would disappear from the front pages again, and the weaknesses in Australian soccer (of which the ethnic question was but one) were unable to exploit the popularity that sat there under the surface waiting to be tapped. When it comes down to it, Australia qualified because they were the better team on the night.

  35. Katz
    November 18th, 2005 at 12:41 | #35

    “I think that the 1974 Socceroo success was freakish, as shown by the absence of similar success over the next 30 odd years. The long term prospects for Socceroo international success are dependent on municipal health.”

    That may be true Jack, but as I suggested above, we just don’t know yet.

    The relationship between a sense of nationalism, which Jack was confident that he detected:

    “The spirit of the national team and Australian public in the Uruguay match was noticeably better than on comparable occasions under the old dispensation. This is nationalism in practice.”

    and being, as MB, remarked, “the better team on the night” is quite an elusive one.

    Still more questionable is whether Socceroos, most of whom play and live overseas, are motivated to play out of their skins when they don the Green and Gold.

    The lists of world champions in many fields of sport are full of athletes who quitted kith and kin to follow the money and who still performed brilliantly in colours donned for the sake of convenience and/or economic self-interest — two motivations which Jack would have to concede run counter to national pride.

  36. Gaby
    November 18th, 2005 at 21:08 | #36

    I don’t know whether Jack Strocchi is a “one track monomaniacal crank” but he sure knows nothing about soccer.

    I can’t believe that he is advancing his ridiculous thesis seriously. Rather he is probably being deliberately inflammatory.

    So the A League which is about 12 games old, and which I have on in the background now ( Victory vs Mariners 0-2) has forged a new spirit among the Socceroos by the “abandonment of multicultural ethnic identity politics as the club organizing principle”? Give me a break! Archie Thompson is the only A Leaguer who played.

    Soccer in this country was built by European migrants, without government assistance. From the grass roots. And from all European nations. Think of the names of the clubs that have gone. Polonia, Austria, Prague, Hakoah, JUST, Croatia, Budapest, Hellas, Juventus, Azzurri etc.

    Also just about all of the Socceroos grew in this system. Viduka in Melbourne Croatia, Popovic and Cullina in Sydney Croatia, Bresciano and Grella in Melbourne Juventus etc,. etc.

    Also remember that on its inception, the NSL was far more successful than the A League. Weekly crowds in Adelaide were between 15,000+ for years when it was Adelaide Juventus and West Adelaide Hellas. And the NSL was the most successful national league for years and national way before AFL or rugby tried.

    This is not to say that the A League is not a welcome development. It is. And that it was time to move on from its ethnic roots. But I say this not without some nostalgia for what has been lost.

    A smaller league based on States or large regions enables a greater concentraton of talent. In fact, some of the matches I have seen are better than many in that overrated Premier League.

    The old NSL suffered principally because of a decrease in quality due largely to our export of soccer talent and less so because of competition from ersatz football codes. No longer could fans go and watch a Viduka. We never got to see Kewell. Imagine taking the top 150-200 players out of the AFL or rugby and what would you have? SANFL?

    By the way, there were some rivalries in the 1974 squad. There has been scuttlebutt that Rasic didn’t pick Billy Vojtek, a Melbourne Croatian, and who some would argue one of the best players at the time.

    There was also interstate rivalry. Almost certainly Johnny Perin and Roger Romanowicz should have been picked in the squad from South Australia.

  37. November 19th, 2005 at 04:40 | #37

    Fourth Dutch coach to get into the Worldcup next year.

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