Euro 2008: a statement


Second half of Turkey-Czech Republic: best 45 – or 49 – minutes of football seen thus far in Euro 2008. With twin matches now being played simultaneously for the rest of the group stage (why?), you either record one and watch two a night, or plump for one (as we did last night for Sweden-Spain), or, uniquely, as we did tonight, record both, go out for an early pizza, come back, watch the first half of one (Portugal-Switzerland – lacklustre indeed), and the second half of other, Turkey-Czech, which had maximum fire in its belly, for obvious, qualifying reasons. Good call. Even though Switzerland clawed back their host’s pride on ITV4 with two goals while we weren’t watching, it was all happening on ITV1, with a terrific comeback by Turkey, who were 2-1 down, and turned it round, thanks to Nihat, who scored twice in the 87th and 89th minute, preventing a penalties-based decider. And then, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, the Turkish keeper Volkan was red-carded for stupidly pushing Koller (who’d scored the first Czech goal while we were wading through the first half of Port-Swi). For a moment there, it looked as if the Czechs might equalise, meaning that Turkey would be defending penalites without a goalkeeper! (As it is, Volkan won’t be playing in the quarter-final.) This is why Euro 2008 is just as entertaining without England being in it. I passed a big, open, friendly young person’s bar near where I live in South Lonodon that’s formerly been packed out when England are in the big tournaments. I’d say about two people were actually watching Turkey-Czech Republic on the big screen. Shame, really.

OK, one question:

1) ITV’s coverage is the worst of the two on offer. But does anyone else like Ned Boulting? I do. (Sorry if you watch football all the time, and this is old news. I’m new round here, as you know.)

Alright, one other question:

2) What the hell are you to do if you don’t have Sky or cable or Freeview? ITV and BBC are fielding a game a night to one of their satellites until the quarter finals now. Tough luck if you don’t have access to BBC3 (home of sport!) or ITV4.


42 thoughts on “Euro 2008: a statement

  1. My view is that MORE of the football should be on the ‘digital only’ channels. I’m a football fan (not just during big tournaments either) but I don’t understand why ITV1/BBC1 interrupt all their normal stuff so much when the majority of the population isn’t into it.Having it on BBC/ITV is a legal requirement, but if they put the games on BBC3/ITV2-4 what’s the problem? Most people either have digital, or are going to have to get their fingers out and get it soon.Better still, let Sky cover it, they know how to do it properly.Extra points deducted for ITV keeping their HD channel off of the Sky platform too!

  2. The games are on at the same time so that the teams playing later can’t fix the result so they both go through (See Austria – W. Germany 1982)Before all this (1996 and 1998) you used to have to try and watch one game on EuroSport and the other on BBC/ITV.It’s been a great tournament so far and if it keeps going it’ll overtake Euro 2000 in my mind (I was one in 1984 so that doesn’t count) a fantastic weekend of football to top off seeing My Bloody Valentine on Saturday.

  3. Last night the only match that mattered was the Turkey one but on other nights there will be times when the eventual outcome depends on both matches. Here’s an illustration: Two matches, Team A v Team B and Team C v Team D. Team A only needs a draw if Team C wins but a win if Team D wins. If the C v D match is played 1st then the tactics employed by team A would be different depending on the result of the first match. If they play at the same time then they don’t know the result. The Football league (all divisions) and the premier league make sure that all the last day of the season matches are played at the same time for the same reason.

  4. …oh and I forgot to mention – isn’t the figure for “No of households with digital television” quite high now – in the 80% region? I would imagine that among football fans, the number is higher – with Sky and Setanta having the Premier League sewn up and only a small number of Champions League matches on analogue television. If you want a choice of match during the Champions League season you need to subscribe to Sky Sports and have access to ITV4.

  5. Why? about group 2. It’s to avoid as much corruption as possible. Which doesn’t mean that Holland could go easy on the Romanians hoping to make sure France and Italy won’t meet them in the later rounds.The broadcasters will show the match where both teams have something to play for which is why Germany Austria tonight, France Italy tomorrow and Russia Sweden on the last night. Tell me you didn’t expect Switzerland (out) versus Portugal (qualified and resting many players) to be a good match.Don’t watch Spain Greece – wait for the highlights.

  6. “With twin matches now being played simultaneously for the rest of the group stage (why?)”Er, like every other international tournament group stage, so that the result of one match being known doesn’t then influence the outcome of the other? Whether it has ever happened or not, it would be trivial for teams to agree to play out a 0-0 draw so they both qualify, if the result of the previous game was already in. By running them simultaneously, there is always the chance that a late goal in the other game would mean a change to the group table. Crap for telly though, I agree! Whatever happened to tellies coming with twin tuners and therefore ‘picture-in-picture’ (I know Sky do their split screen match choice thing for the CL and last day of season coverage though)”What the hell are you to do if you don’t have Sky or cable or Freeview?”Is there actually anyone who doesn’t have Freeview now? Even my gran now has our old Freeview box since we got a TV with it built in.Still, glad to be enjoying the tournament; I hung my hat on Holland, looking OK so far (although will it be Spain in the semis?)

  7. “What the hell are you to do if you don’t have Sky or cable or Freeview?”Perhaps – just perhaps – you’d be thankful that there’s something on other than football. Or perhaps, if you were interested in football, you’d stoically think “well, there might be a couple of matches I can’t see, but thank god my passion isn’t the Proms, where all but two are on multichannel…”

  8. Hey Andrew, the reason the matches are played at the same time is these are the final games in each group. So if you knew the result from the first game you could have an advantage, in that you could calculate exactly what you needed to qualify, which would be unfair on the two teams that had already played their last game. For example if the result of the first game meant you only needed to draw your match, you needn’t take any chances and could spend the whole game wasting time. This would a) eliminate the team that lost the first game when if you had needed to go for the win you might instead have been too open and lost; and b) be very boring.But yes, what a game that Turkey vs Czechoslovakia. The first half was pretty rubbish so you did well to pick it up when you did.

  9. The reason there’s simultaneous group games currently is because we’re now at final set of group games where the outcome for one team could affect that for another. This wasn’t the case last night because Portugal had already qualified for the quarter finals and the only other teams from the group which could were playing each other. In the GROUP OF DEATH for example 3 teams can still join Holland in the next round, if these games were not to be played simultaneously then one team might gain an advantage by knowing the outcome of the other game.It’s done like this to avoid shameless collusion as happened in the 1982 World Cup where Germany and Austria played out a dull draw safe in the knowledge that it would take both through at the expense of Algeria who had played earlier in the day. That won’t be happening tonight of course as an Austrian victory in Vienna would mean goodnight for the Germans.

  10. “With twin matches now being played simultaneously for the rest of the group stage (why?)”So that the teams playing in the second game don’t have the unfair advantage of knowing what they need to do in order to progress – for example, it might suit both teams to settle for a draw. (In last nights games, this obviously didn’t apply).

  11. Agreed. Best half so far, in that way that football can continue to surprise.They play both of the last games in each group at the same time so that the teams don’t know the result, which could affect the way they approach they game. If, for example, both Turkey and the Czechs needed only to draw to both go through, and they did, there is always the suspicion that the draw had been ‘arranged’. It’s why all the games on the last day of the Premiership are played at the same time.Hmmm, pizza….StephenC

  12. I try to avoid ITV’s “analysis” or any kind of pitch-side reporting they might offer. Gabriel Clarke deserves to be on a better channel while Boulting certainly has enthusiasm, so good luck to him. The commentators, Champion & Drury, drive me around the bend. And David Pleat can’t pronounce anyone’s name right. Actually, at the best of times, he struggles to string a sentence together, god bless him. Maybe ITV thinks this is cute, like listening to a doddery uncle or something but it’s embarrassing.

  13. The games both happen at the same time to avoid situations where both teams playing the second match know what they need to do (i.e if they both need a draw, if one team is through and the other needs a win). In the past matches have been played on both BBC and ITV simultaneously, but as no home nations qualified, I believe that both the major channels didn’t want to show football at the same time

  14. The matches are played simultaneously to avoid any teams cynically playing for a draw, as far as I know. The outcomes of the groups in these final matches can go right down to the wire, and if one final match has already been played, the other teams might know what result is required of them to go through, or to top the group to get a more favourable Quarter Final match.Doesn’t always work, and Portugal- Switzerland was effectively a ‘dead rubber’, as they call it, so it didn’t really matter anyway.On the Ned Boulting issue, I’ve noticed that he appears to have the exact same voice as ITV commentator Peter Drury. Are they the same person?

  15. “With twin matches now being played simultaneously for the rest of the group stage (why?)”To avoid giving the 2 teams playing last an unfair advantage by knowing what result will put them through.see austria v west germany 1982

  16. > With twin matches now being played simultaneously for the rest of the group stage (why?)To make it fairer. If the games were played at different times, the teams in the second game would know exactly what they needed to do to qualify, and could play out a dull, meaningless, mutually-beneficial pre-determined result. This used to happen quite a bit, hence the simultaneous games being brought in.

  17. Why are the final matches in the group stages played simultaneously? Well, it’s all down to the collusion between the Austrians and the West Germans in the 1982 World Cup, played in Spain.You see, what happened was that minnows Algeria had somehow managed to beat the Germans earlier on in the group stage. With just the match between Austria and West Germany to go, the only way that Algeria wouldn’t qualify for the next stage would be for West Germany to beat Austria by exactly one or two goals — a larger German win would eliminate the Austrians instead and a draw or an Austrian win would eliminate the Germans.So what happened? West Germany scored after 10 minutes and the following 80 minutes consisted of the two teams aimlessly passing the ball between themselves with neither team having any intention of scoring any more goals.The whole performance by both teams was utterly unsportsmanlike, and the legacy is that in every World Cup or Euro championship since, the final group matches for each group have been played simultaneously.As for Ned Boulting, I have no opinion. I’ve never heard of the guy, since actually watching football is nowhere near as interesting for me as knowing trivial nonsense about stuff about it that happened over 20 years ago…

  18. ITV has always been the weaker of the two – from the intro, to the choice of music they use… did you ever watch The Premiership – Andy Townsend reviewing games from a caravan?! Always second best I am afraid… (although I think David Pleat is a good commentator – not too sure who the other bloke is but I can’t stand him… Lastly – having watched the competition so far – how well do you think England would have done??? I think that most of the teams would have played them off the park – all the teams seem to be far more skillful – (although I don’t think Gaunty would agree! – “they have 3 lions on their chest…blah…blah..blah…heroes…”

  19. Hi Andyjust to let you know the reason the last group matches are played together is to stop teams playing out draws if they both just need a point to get through, I think this happened in 1982 between West Germany and Austria in the World cup and it stopped an African (can’t remember the name of the team) underdog getting through so they change it, Steve

  20. Hi Andywhy the last games of a group stage are played together. in the 1982 world cupAustria and West Germany shamefully conspired with one another in Group B, draping a blanket of controversy over the competition. Algeria, playing in its first World Cup, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition when it earned a 2-1 victory over West Germany in Gijon on June 16. The Africans looked a sure bet to go through to the next round after they defeated Chile on June 24 in Oviedo. Austria and the Germans faced off in the final match of the group the next day back in Gijon. Because FIFA did not require the final two games of the group stages to be played simultaneously, Austria and West Germany knew that a 1-0 win for the Germans would be enough for both nations to advance to the next round. And so, the two neighbouring countries had their “Anschluss” — arrangement — and stopped playing when the Germans went 1-0 up after 10 minutes. From that point on, the game slowed down to a crawl with neither team seriously venturing forward. The Spanish spectators in the stands booed both countries unmercifully as they carried out this sporting fraud, and Algeria protested the result to FIFA the next day, but soccer’s world governing body turned a blind eye and let the injustice stand. regardsSteve

  21. The final games are played at the same time to avoid teams knowing what they have to win/draw/lose by in order to go through, thus preventing a repeat of the infamous ‘Anschluss’ incident of the 1982 World Cup where West Germany and Austria played out a 1-0 win for the the Germans knowing that such a result would knock out the Algerians, who had already played (there’s a little thing about in the Guardian sports pages today).

  22. “What the hell are you to do if you don’t have Sky or cable or Freeview?”Just do like me and don’t like football. It’s both a help and a burden, in these soccer-laden times..

  23. I’m suprised that apart from really big games the digital channels are sued more it would stop the mewling from ‘stenders fans and would reduce the number of 2 pints repeats they show. I know some people have coverage porblesm for freeview but the boxes are dead cheap now and there’s that new satelite service for remote types. On the whole Sky is the best for footy the BEEB are looking tired and lack lustre apart from the radio lot and ITv are always bobbins.

  24. Final group matches have to be simultaneous otherwise it would be a big advantage to play last. You might know a goalless draw will see you through, or you might be playing an opponent who is already through and would rather see you in 2nd than a local rival currently sat there.

  25. As for David Pleat, I believe it was he who described the Swiss coach’s wife as being “epilectic” last night. As for non-football matters arising, David M, I don’t really have a lot of time for “other telly” at the moment, although have been watching Nip/Tuck with gritted teeth, as it’s the worst season thus far, in fact the only one that has been less than barnstorming. The move from Miami to LA might have cheered up the writers, but it has led to a downturn in story quality.I’ll get to my book of the Mitford sisters’ letters once I’ve got further into it, but it’s quite addictive.I’m about to blog about a guide dog, bear with me.

  26. I just wanted to say that I don’t have Sky and when we have tried to connect a Freeview box it is crap and doesn’t get any signal, so we are stuck with the games on terrestrial telly. I am a football fan and my husband is an even bigger one, but we just don’t have the readies to splash out £40/50 a month for Sky Sports (or whatever it is these days). We have to save up for petrol! So throughout the year we rely on good old Five Live to listen to the matches, whilst simultaneously watching Final Score on the Beeb. Old fashioned but better than getting freaked out by Richard Keys’ hairy hands on Sky! ZoePS Does anyone know why the games are played simultaneously this week?????

  27. Andrew – they play them simultaneously to prove that no players are playing for two different national sides – you can’t be in two places at once, after all.Lots of people don’t have freeview – it’s not available in remote parts of the UK and access even in Devon and Cornwall is limited.

  28. The games are being played simultaneously (pronounced Simol-taneously obviously) for fairness reasons, as pointed out above. What other posters have forgotten to mention is that as recently as 1992 both games would actually have to be played at the same time and on the same pitch. It was chaotic but terrific fun with lots of goals lots of national anthems.The TV analogue switch off starts in 2009 in some places so if you haven’t got digital (and can’t you get a freeview box for as little as £30 now?) soon you won’t be able to watch anything. If your freeview signal is bad you can invest in a ‘Digital Aerial’ that will help your reception. I love telly, I do.Answers to all sorts of questions (they’ll even explain why that Nistleroy goal against Italy wasn’t called offside) and details of all switch over issues from the organisation in charge can be found here:

  29. David Pleat: I was amused the other day to hear him calling the Czech Republic “Czechoslovakia” several times – like you he must love 1983. But then he realised that he was getting it wrong, and for the rest of the match referred to them “Ch… The Republic of Czechoslovakia”.

  30. Am I alone in thinking that ITV’s coverage is actually better than BBC’s?BBC used to have the monopoly on commentating talent, but now poor old Motson has lost his marbles, and aside from Jonathan Pearce, the rest are pretty average.As David Hepworth pointed out in his blog, BBC’s punditry has become dreadful lately. Cliched, dull and dreary. Lineker really looks like he can’t be arsed.At least Andy Townsend on ITV is enthusiastic and interesting, and Steve Rider is a decent presenter.Ultimately, it’s the footie that matters though, which has been reliably excellent.

  31. David Pleat is a legend. Apparently he’s just as crazy when he’s not behind a microphone.My sister’s ex-fiance works for the World Service, and was lucky enough to go to Egypt for the African Nations Cup a few years back.He was invited on an excursion to see the pyramids with the Radio 5 Live team.As he has a scouse accent, Alan Green asked my sister’s ex which Premiership team he supported. He replied that he supported Liverpool, so Alan Green gave him a big hug!Halfway through the tour around the pyramids, the guide asked if anyone had any questions about them.David Pleat was the first to put his hand up. Everything went silent and he asked “These stones look awfully heavy, have they ever fallen on anyone?”Cue the whole BBC team falling around laughing at him!Chris

  32. The best course of action after a match is to listen to Danny Baker on Radio 5, on the 606 show. The football itself doesn’t get much of a look-in, but all of the absurdities of the tournament and the coverage are examined in depth. It will increase your enjoyment of Euro 2008, as you start wondering, why is Gordon Strachan wearing a leather jacket in the summer, trying to look hard, and being a big gurn, while pondering what vegetable from each participating country would best represent them, and would they make a good pizza when playing each other. Great to have DB back.

  33. Although I prefer the BBC – I do take the point that the BBC team have become lackluster with there analysis – I think Martin O’Neil is good (last night picking up Hansen on contradicting him!) and it is still good to see a bit of banter amongst the team. Steve Ryder to me seems so smug with himself – presenter of F1 and the footie – he just looks so dated – surely there must be new ways for football punditry to be updated?? (Andy Towsend just wants to be Andy Grey with his computer trails and computer arrows!!) Or maybe it is none of them give a toss because of no home nations so they are just on a pretty good paid holiday…

  34. Graham Taylor (5 Live) & David Pleat (ITV) are the big no-nos for me. The best way to watch a game on the BBC is to access 5 Live’s commentary (when Graham Taylor’s not co-commentating). Chris Waddle is good value and the commentary is much more insightful in general. John Murray is great; you get a sense he talks with a smile on his face, and he’s free of superior opinion, unlike Alan Green who is getting quite annoying, especially when he hosts 606.

  35. Sorry Andrew I did post my comment after everyone else had told you about the games being on at the same time, I was just being facetious. My lunchtime noodles are too soggy today though so karma has come and bit me on the arse for it already.Zoe

  36. I’m a bit late with the response but want to chuck in my two penneth.Commentary, coverage and “analysis” on ITV is, and always has been poor, at least with regards the talking heads/ex footballers that populate the studio. However, Ned Boulting is a very good, interesting and insightful broadcaster indeed. He speaks a number of languages pretty fluently and is always watchable. I recommend ITV’s coverage of the Tour de France where both he and Gary Imlach come into their own. Both are excellent and Imlach’s book “My Father and other Working Class Heroes” is absolutely extraordinary. Only David Peace’s “The Damned United” comes close as sports book of recent years. Seriously, ITV’s TDF coverage is worth watching and if you’re not into cycling, they explain lots of the peculiarities and oddities of the sport with humour and insight. Anyway, enough of the advert. Sorry.David Pleat’s “The Republic of Czechoslovakia” was terrible, he always used to say Day-vid Gin-oh-luh instead of jjin-o-la. I’m not sure if it’s just laziness but it’s a poor show. All commentators – on BBC and ITV – have been saying Roo-mania instead of Rom-ania. Motson’s repeated “Pearlo” instead of Pee-r-lo/pier-lo or even Pia-lo is also excruciating. The BBC TV Team is a mixed bag. Strachan is OK, Hansen is good but a little too in love with his own reputation really. Alan Shearer is appalling, utterly appalling. He adds nothing to the experience, cannot “see” anything interesting and speaks in bland platitudes and cliches. He is symptomatic of broadcasters misguided belief that ex players make for good pundits just because they played the game at a high level. Good broadcasting and journalism requires quite different skills…articulacy and insight perhaps? Shearer and some others, lack both these qualities and should just get off the screen. I find Jonathan Pearce incredibly frustrating. He seems to think that saying things loud and with enthusiasm is enough. Basically, he substitutes insight, knowledge and eloquence with volume and shouty enthusiasm. I cannot listen to him.Radio 5 Live is much better. John Murray is the best football commentator working in the UK (in my humble opinion) and Waddle is OK as a sidekick/pundit … although he does say the word PELANTY instead on Penalty. I’ve decided to find it endearing though 🙂 How inconsistent of me. Alan Green is actually passionate and fairly knowledgeable but is starting to believe his own press. Finally: can I just give a “heads up” for Danny Baker. He has returned to 5 Live to host 606 after many years absence – he was the original host of 606 in the early 90’s – and he is a great radio broadcaster, he’s knowledgeable, interesting, sharp, quick witted, ireverant and funny….everything Tim Lovejoy wishes to be but never can be. It seems like I’ve written a mini essay, maybe I’ve spent too long on this but sporting events are partially shaped by the medium through which one accesses them and good broadcasting, coverage, comment and journalism fleshes out, improves and enhances the experience.Chris R

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