Euro 2008: a question

So, Italy sent France packing last night (amid many facile gags from the media about Domenech’s interest in astrology and not seeing it in the stars – ha ha). I had, as previously reported, just been out to a ballet, so I watched the first half and fell asleep during the second (this is the cross those who seek to do something other than watch football have to bear), waking up for the second Italian goal. My question is this, and it arises from my crime of watching football just once every two years:

1) Is a game that is packed with “incident” intrinsically better than a game that just plays out between two sides playing their best and one of them wins? And I mean “incident” that’s not necessarily pleasant: Abidal being sent off, France one man down, first goal from a penalty, Domenech accidentally replacing Abidal with someone who he actually didn’t want to replace him with and having to substitute his substitute after 16 minutes, Ribery pulling his Achilles tendon and being administered to tenderly by Henry before being stretchered off in obvious agony. It was memorable, but it was two teams seemingly below par, scrapping it out, and not on paper a Good Game.
2) Oh, and why are the games being played simultaneo … oh yeah.


21 thoughts on “Euro 2008: a question

  1. Is watching music always better when it is played note-perfectly (“just like the album”) in concert-hall conditions, or can you get equal or greater pleasure from seeing enthusiasts thrash noisily, evenb though you can’t make out a word they’re saying?Incident is everything. For example, any commentator who says that a sending off “spoils the game” doesn’t, to my mind, understand football. A player from the opposing team being sent off is one of the great joys of football.

  2. It really is just a matter of opinion and you will get the purists who pretend they want to see the boring but technically superior game that is served up in Italy week in week out. Personally I do love a bit of everything thrown in: sendings off; fights; blood; players jumping into the crowd to kung fu kick racist hecklers (limited market); broken bones; managers sent into the stands; last minute penalties; tunnel brawls; games effected by the weather; controversial refereeing decisions; contested offsides; pizza throwing; funny abuse; streaking. Oh and spectacular goals and some amount of skill don’t go amiss (although not the pointless ball juggling skills of the likes of that clown Ronaldinho or his near name sake who plays for Man U and looks like the very young Cliff Richard). Games of two halves are good too. Your average Premier League game basically.My yardstick is this. Whenever that dickhead Motson says something like “and I’m afraid this isn’t the sort of thing we want to see on a football field” or “what a poor example to set young players just coming into the game” I know I’ve just seen something that makes the game worth watching.Did you know that the player of the tournament so far, Portugal’s Deco, has a first name of Anton?… geddit?

  3. ‘Packed with incident’ is seen as a good thing on television but is often dismissed as ‘becoming a farce’ on Radio Five Live.’Packed with incident’ also often means that ‘they haven’t read the script’, which is can very quickly with a goal turn into ‘it’s as if he’s read the script.’ The whole script thing does lose me. Probably cause I haven’t read it.

  4. Completely unrelated:I’ve just in the last 24 hours finally got round to watching The Wire, after recommendations from absolutely everyone of note – including both Charlie Brooker and David Hepworth.And it is great. I watched the first nine episodes in an oner, and finished it off today. I now have series two to look forward to.Now – as you may not know, I am something of an expert on da’ hood. Not Baltimore specifically, but I have been to New York and actually WALKED through the Bronx. Yes, thats right – walked. All the way to the Yankee stadium souvenier shop next to the tube station. And back again. Alone, home-boy. A-lone! (Yes, I know, pretty hardcore. I believe ross kemp is pitching a series about me to ITV as we speak – ‘Britains hardest 44-year-old divorced social misfits’) Also, as you probably do not know, I am something of an expert on da subject of gangsta rap, having listened to at least three snoopy dog dog songs. So I say this as someone who is steeped in extensive knowledge of the world theyre representing: For homies like me and da niggaz I know – this is one muthafuckin solid piece of shee-yit. Lay-taz Homz!

  5. There is something quite special about seeing teams at the top of their form playing out of their skins, but an incident-packed game can be incredibly exciting.While the pundits were bemoaning Switzerland- Turkey “farce” on the waterlogged pitch, I was loving it. It turned a potntially dull game into a hoot.To relate this to gigs, I saw Oasis at Wembley stadium in 2000. I was 16 and it was my first gig. It was, by all accounts, a shambolic disaster. Liam was drunk, forgot the words, ranted at length about Patsy Kensit leaving him and nearly fell over. All beamed across the globe.I loved it, and I’ll never forget it. As bigethink said above: incident is everything.

  6. Aaaah – a dog on the pitch. Marvellous stuff. Jumpers for goalposts etc…Personally I can do without ‘incident’. The word can mean broken bones (Eduardo this season just gone kind of proved that’s never nice to see). It can mean diving for a free kick(shameful, especially when it’s one of your own players). It can mean a fight (waste of time and slightly disgraceful) or a goal not being recognised as a goal when it clearly crossed the line (infuriating)…None of those things make me happy – and if my beloved Arsenal win after being involved in that kind of nonsense, it always taints the victory for me.It’s the incidents that occur within the rules of the game that make it essential viewing… skill, trickery, a keeper making a dash to the other end to try and claw a goal back, a lobbed goal from the player’s own half, overhead kicks, scissorkicks, backheels… if you’re not satisfied with that lot and need to see two grown men thumping each other, you’re tuning in to the wrong sport, surely?

  7. Good heavens, I seem to have asked a pertinent question. (See how much fun it is to have a part-time football fan around?)Two amazing goals by Russia last night, by the way. Lars may have to take his lager back.

  8. Fo sho Paul, fo sho. I be watchin’ that Wire shit up in this bitch and be lovin’ it G. Dem Charlie B and Andrew C muthfuckaz know what dey be talkin’ about. I taken dey recommendation about the Wire and be all up in season 2 right now. It’s all good baby, it’s all good.Re: the France game, I thought the astrology jibes were quite funny actually, but then I would!

  9. Yes, you would, Tristan. On another point, is it socially and politically acceptable to use black patois and write it up phonetically for a laugh? I only ask because the use of “de” and “dis”, for instance, to denote the speaker’s African-American heritage, was once forbidden on grounds of racism. However, the status of the black character in popular drama for instance – well, certainly in The Wire’s Baltimore, where black run the streets, the police and City Hall – surely a white, British observer’s adoption of such street slang is a tribute to it, rather than denigration. (Yes, I know, the word “denigration” is arguably racist in itself.) It’s an interesting point. The N-word is still forbidden among non-black users, as it should be, but can it be used in quote marks, as it were, or in the “Nigga” spelling without racist undertones?This is a discussion worth having in full elsewhere rather than halfway down a Euro 2008 thread. I’ll start it at some point, but I have a fashion show to blog about.

  10. Hi Andrew, definitely a conversation worth having, but if you’ll allow one more off topic post…I’d say that using the patois is no more unacceptable than, for example, responding to a post about a particularly good Jeeves and Wooster episode with something along the lines of “What-o old chap. I agree, that episode was a jolly good wheeze…” etc. You’re right about “nigga” though. I even started typing it in that post before deleting it and replacing it with G (does anyone know what that actually means by the way? Is it “gangsta”?). Seems it’s still unacceptable. I even refrained from using “fo shizzle my nizzle”, though that was also partly because it sounds stupid and is never used in The Wire. The use of the slang is a tribute, but probably more to a great show with a superb script than to the characters themselves. Can’t help but like Omar though, despite his murderous thieving ways!

  11. I was exaggerating for effect Swineshead but I don’t mind a bit of honest rough and tumble. God forbid the game should ever become non contact but it’s heading that way.We don’t do diving (simulation) at Middlesbrough. We don’t do bad-mouthing at Refs either (we don’t much do skill either). But look where that got us with regard to the Aliadiere fish slapping dance/sending off debacle last season? The FA just rode over us.The fifth season of The Wire starts on the FX channel next month. I really want it on DVD box set so I can control how many episodes I watch. But it’s not out until August/September and I don’t think I’ll be able to resist tuning in. Only 10 episodes though eh?

  12. Some Arsenal incidents can be funny though Swineshead (I’m thinking Keown and van Nistelrooy a few years back)…it shouldn’t be funny but when it’s United I just can’t help but laugh! Zoe

  13. The final group games are played simultaneously so no team has a tactical advantage over the other potential qualifier by knowing their result (and therefore if they need 3pts or just 1)enabling them to set up their teams accordingly.There have been examples of teams just going through the motions when they both know a draw is enough to qualify. This leads to games of no “incident” whatsoever.Off topic-The word “nigger” only seems to be appropriate if you are a gangster rapper expressing himself in song..I certainly wouldn’t try using it with your BBC homies over the vending machine.

  14. While we’re posting off-topic…I went to see Gone Baby Gone on Saturday nigt and thought it was fantastic. Provided much after-film discussion and moral dilemma which is pretty rare these days. Zoe

  15. Yes, andrew, I did deliberately use the ‘n’ word just for that reason – to see people’s reaction.I think, as with all such things, it’s all about context, as Tristram and yourself noted so eloquently.I’d be a bit sad if someone was offended by my use of the word in that absurd context. But I wouldn’t feel that I had hidden racist tendencies. No more than we all do anyway – black and white. Whether we like it or not.It’s like Big Brother all over again.I congratulate you for your true liberal agenda though Andrew. For reading something and not taking a knee-jerk reaction.

  16. Now, this IS interesting. When I made my comment about not using the N word it was nothing to do with Paul’s post. In fact, I hadn’t even registered that he’d used that word himself in his own post. Seems that perhaps it’s not as unacceptable as I thought if I didn’t even register it’s presence!Now, for something totally unrelated, but guarantees to cause a tea-screen interface situation: know it’s the sun, put please just follow that link. You won’t regret it! It seems someone doesn’t like Will Smith!

  17. When me and my hubby want to emuulate The Wire we dont go in for the ‘street talk’, as frankly we’d look like a couple of tits. A simple Omar-style ‘Indeed’ will suffice, and then the other knows what we’re talking about (as Lee would say).The language definitely gets a bit fruitier when we do Sopranos quotes though! Zoe

  18. A very funny pic, Tristan, the big irony being: the photograph says COCK in big letters, but the story and headline use the rather coy C**K, just in case anyone’s offended. What a weird morality they operate at the tabloids!

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