"Soccer" vs. AFL
Monday, May 29 2006 at 07:12 PM EST
Contributed by: jason
Socceroos show where footy's lost the plot
THE contrast between last week's Socceroos/Greece match and the games we see in the AFL competition should be deeply embarrassing to the AFL. On Thursday night at the MCG, we saw a game of subtle tactics, choreographed by astute coaches, akin to the moves on a chess board. In soccer, you must play the ball at all times, and skill predominates over brute force.
While there are also some clever tactics used in footy games, and while there are also some players with wonderful skills, it is a shame that too many games are marred by episodes where the intention is to play the man rather than the ball. The AFL is highly aware of this behaviour, but turns a blind eye, erroneously thinking that a good proportion of spectators come to see rough play and actually enjoy a bit of "biffo".
The first thing to be done is to outlaw shepherding, which can easily be misused in moves such as the shirt-front, where the result can be to injure a key player so badly that he is off for the rest of the game. To barge into a player, who does not have the ball and might even not be looking, is both violent and cowardly and should be stopped. It is not allowed in the rugby codes, which are held to be more physical than footy.
The second imperative is to have a send-off rule, as in the rugby codes. To allow a player who has committed a flagrant foul to play on for the full game is absurd; and the charade of tribunals, where clubs hire expensive legal counsel to defend players who are clearly guilty, is equally so. Sport should begin and end on the field of play, the umpires should be given the authority to ensure fair play, and that should be the end of the matter.
Soccer has set an enviable standard for the AFL to emulate. Let our administrators learn from this and amend the rules so as to elevate skills and sportsmanship and punish brutish players, even if that means losing the patronage of those who watch footy for the wrong reasons.
Rob Siedle, Hawthorn
A pearl before swine
MICHAEL Davis (Letters, 27/5) drags out the well-worn whinge about Thursday night's 1-0 score line being boring. If you opened your eyes, Michael, you'd see that there is more to the game than the ball crossing the goal line: we don't give points for missing, and we don't allow you to kick the ball as high as you like through the posts.
The movement of the ball and the skills required is what makes the game so beautiful: football (yes, that is what the world calls it) is science, art and sport — and perhaps this level of sophistication is too much for some people to appreciate.
Christopher Jack, Dee Why, NSW
The real thing
IT'S so good to have real football back dominating the sports pages again, with the analyses of the Pies-Doggies game replacing the 2¼ days' wonder of the heads-feet-and-boomps-a-daisy-ball.
Carl Keeney, Sunshine North