In its first week of group play, the 2014 World Cup has satisfied nearly every eagerly expectant international football fan.
From high scoring matches (like Holland’s 5 – 1 thrashing of Spain) to nail-biting nil – nil finishes (like yesterday’s Brazil versus Mexico scoreless tie), the quadrennial event has failed to disappoint.
However, the preponderance of press coverage dedicated to the USA’s stunning victory over Ghana as well as the tournament’s marquee, goal scoring stars like Messi, Ronaldo, Van Persie, Muller and Neymar has unintentionally kept other obvious World Cup stories quietly beneath the media’s radar in Brazil.
Focusing on 2014 World Cup story lines worthy of much closer scrutiny would completely satisfy soccer fans like me.
I’m certain you’ll agree that the media seems to have overlooked these five topics that warrant our attention.
5. the Brazilian striker Fred – how could the South American country responsible for giving the world the “Beautiful Game” allow one of its most important players on the pitch to wear the underwhelming name of Fred on the back of his jersey?
Single named nicknames are commonplace in Brazilian soccer with hip sounding handles of current electric stars like Neymar, Kaka and Hulk and poetically melodic monikers of revered retired icons like Pele, Ronaldinho and Garrincha.
Frederico, maybe. But, Fred? No way!
4. the soccer stretcher – USA’s Jozy Altidore got carted off the pitch on one of these portable things in the Ghana game. He writhed and squirmed as if he were knocking on death’s door – all because of a strained hamstring injury.
FIFA needs to impose stricter new rules about when the trigger happy stretcher carriers can descend onto the pitch to medivac injured players. Broken legs, gun shot wounds, decapitation or a collision on par with that of an NFL kick returner getting jacked by an over amped reserve linebacker would qualify in my book.
But, a hamstring injury? Are you serious?
3. the stuff that looks like shaving cream – Saturday Night Live needs to do one of its hysterical skits on how the FIFA refs handle free kicks resulting from fouls.
Am I the only spectator that finds it comical when the ref unholsters an aerosol can from his back pocket and temporarily graffitis the field to designate lines of demarcation for players to stay behind?
Can’t FIFA find a better, more professionally looking solution?
2. the new goal line technology – I think FIFA’s decision to employ high tech help to eliminate controversial goals is the right move.
However, the cheesy, amateurish looking animated replays of potential goals resemble dated video games instead of state-of-the-art goal line technology.
FIFA needs to redirect its available funds away from lining its own pockets to improving its current Pac Man or Donkey Kong goal line replay look.
Tell me you too haven’t guffawed at the overreacting little guys on the soccer pitch every time they get touched. They jettison to the ground like they’ve been shot by a stinger missile.
Next, tell me you haven’t grunted as panicking paramedics race to the field with their all-too-familiar stretcher in a mad dash to rescue the fallen, injured player.
And, tell me you haven’t grimaced as succoring soccer teammates hover around their fallen comrade. They scream wildly at the ref and gather together in a last rites gesture for the prone teammate who appears to be fighting death’s door. But, you know what’s next.
If all the melodramatic nonsense isn’t enough, you’re expected to stand up and cheer once the play resumes and the “injured” player suddenly rises from his horizontal position and miraculously sprints to the pitch like he’s running the Boston Marathon.
Look forward to seeing if ESPN or other international media outlets think these story lines are worth reporting at the 2014 World Cup.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!