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Pique'n'yer Interest

Cup Shmup

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A friend of mine recently commented that soccer was proof that five billion people can be wrong.

I'll admit that I've never been the world's biggest footy fan. It's fun to play but the lack of goals, blatant dives and fake "oh, the agony!" faces on players that would get laughed off any other professional sports field make it excruciating to watch. This World Cup was more of the same - spotty officiating made 10 times worse by the lack of refs on the field and no instant replays of goals and fouls.

I've had this argument before with assorted soccer fans from around the globe who insist that I "just don't get it" - that northern North Americans as a whole, where soccer ranks somewhere below high school basketball for television supremacy, just don't get it.

I'm sorry, but what exactly is there to get? It's a sport. The players are skilled. Goals get scored. Games are won and lost. There is running. You can touch the ball with any part of your body but not your arms. It's not that complicated.

Stripped down to its fundamentals it's not so different from other sports, yet it never seemed to catch my imagination like football or rugby or hockey or chess-boxing. I'm not going to pretend to like soccer every four years even if it does provide a ready excuse for getting drunk at eight in the morning.

If anything, this World Cup merely reinforced my "meh" attitude for the so-called beautiful game.

There have been so many low points in South Africa. The U.S. team was robbed in two different games, as were the Brits. (Yes, Germany did win 4-1, but that disallowed goal changed the whole flow of the match).

The lowest point for me was the quarterfinal match between Ghana and Uruguay. First, Uruguay was allowed to tie the game up from a penalty shot that was the result of a dive. Later in the game a player from Uruguay, who appeared to be standing behind his own goal line, batted out a Ghana shot with his forearm and sent the game to a shootout that Ghana lost. That should have been a goal.

But the worst part was watching the Uruguay team celebrate. They knew they should have lost but instead of being deferential or humble - it was the ref's fault after all - they partied like they had actually earned it.

I could almost hear the collective pop as thousands of televisions across Canada and the U.S. clicked off en masse, disgusted by yet another soccer scandal in the making.

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