Day: July 24, 2008

Football, Hooliganism & The United States

For those of us watching from the other side of the Atlantic ocean, Major League Soccer is, to say the very least, an education. English football developed into what it is today as the result of one hundred and twenty years of evolution. MLS, by comparison, hasn’t had much time to develop a universe of its own. It has had to be, in the already cluttered landscape that is American sport, be a revolution in itself, and it is still, as far as many Americans are concerned, on probation. There is still time for MLS to collapse in on itself in the same way that its predecessor, NASL, did in the early 1980s when the crowds drifted away and the backers pulled the plug. Its development has been slow and steady. MLS still can’t compete on an even keel with American football, baseball and basketball, but it has made significant in-roads into the psyche of a nation that had looked for many years as if it would prove to be entirely impervious to the game. Crowds are growing and money is starting to be invested on being in star players from overseas. The problem side of the game, however, is also starting to rear its ugly, spit-flecked head. Last weekend’s friendly between Columbus Crew and West Ham United seemed to be an innocuous enough looking fixture. A chance for...

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Quiet Optimism

Over the last couple of years, we have been less than complimentary about ITV’s football coverage. However, I’m not one to bear a grudge, and I’m now quietly optimistic that it might be set to improve. Whisper this quietly, but… I’m starting to think that they might have put someone that cares in charge of their football coverage. The first signs of this recovery came in the new year, with the frankly genius idea to repeat editions of “The Big Match” from 1983 on Thursday afternoons and Sunday mornings. John Bourn, whose website about regional football on ITV was started, in his own words, “a spur to ITV to make more use of their massive football archive”, could finally rest easy in his bed at night. Then, over the summer, their coverage of Euro 2008 was better than expected whilst the BBC’s was worse. It would be something of a leap of faith to say that it was better, but their half-time analysts at least tried to discuss the football rather than try to out-shout each other, and they didn’t repeat the mistake of cutting to adverts over the top of national anthems, like they did at the 2006 World Cup. If they can offer a little more intelligent analysis of the Champions League and steer clear of the patriotic nonsense (which offends many, many people, whilst offering little...

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