June 30, 2006

Quiero el gol de oro!

For those of you who don't 'habla espanol,' "I want the Golden Goal!" If you are familiar with the NHL playoff rules, you are aware that in Overtime (now referred to as OT), the rule is 'sudden death.' In other words, next goal wins. Well in soccer (football, futbol, voetbol, calcio, etc., et al), FIFA (Int'l soccer's governing body) had been using Golden Goal for the Extra Time in knockout matches (a match where one team must be the victor or ganador). In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, FIFA switched to a different OT alignment where the game is played for 30 extra minutes regardless of any scoring in the OT period. The first goal does not win it, in other words. If the game remains deadlocked at the end of the two 15-minute halves, penalty kicks ensue (by now, the phrase 'penalty kick' in Switzerland and Argentina may be synonymous with 'Barry Bonds' across America.)

I see many flaws with this OT set-up:
  1. It takes away (in great measure) the suspense and excitement of the aura that surrounds "next goal wins." I cannot recount the times in which I have put my head to the floor in desperation as a ball shot by the other team glanced off the woodwork. Also, OT goals are not rewarded as highly as they ought be, because play simply resumes until the 30 minutes has expired.
  2. It causes players to not play the regular 90 minutes the way they should be played. If I were a center midfielder, in the 80th minute, knowing that 30 minutes awaits regardless of the score, I would not kill myself the last 5-10 minutes. It gives the game downtime. Players seem to be punished for playing 90 minutes strong, because they either get hurt, subbed, red-carded (in this World Cup) or they are simply ineffective for the last 20 minutes of the game. FIFA should take a hint when they see 4-6 players in OT have to be stretchered off the field because of injury and fatigue. Extra Time isn't supposed to be an IronMan match, it's suppose to be a physical chess match.

I do see one advantage, and it is somewhat crucial:

  1. FIFA does not want to see an World Cup match end on a penalty kick in OT. Face it (with a good attitude), sometimes refs make mistakes. I know, I am one. (not a mistake, a ref!) What a shame it would be to see the World Cup Final end on a Extra-Time PK resulting from a bad call.

My response to the one advantage is: "Don't give out PK's like you did in the Italy match. People that dive over a man lying on the ground after a tackle don't deserve goals, they deserve the "get up!" signal.

Leave a comment if you must debate!