Saturday, July 06, 2024

When winning is all that counts and rules make no sense

I could care less whether Spain or Germany won. Both are fantastic countries that I love, but in football they are often hard to like.

Today was one of those days.

The good thing about German elimination is that Germany again made history: the first time ever the hosts have been eliminated in the quarterfinals of a European Championship! Secondly, it was good to see Toni Kroos play his last match; a good player sure, but completely overrated; he is not at the level of some of the greats, but merely a good player that will soon be forgotten. So no tears over Germany.

But no celebrations over Spain either.

Spain have proud traditions, and this team has some of the elements that could make it a great team. But today we saw a side that despite its quality have no qualms over how to win. Some years ago I would have lamented the lack of fair play and being a gentleman, but truth is that I learnt in El Salvador that in life you are stupid if you think you can play fair and even less be a gentleman and I am trying hard to be neither. Therefore I admire a Dani Carvajal that is ready to get a red card by violently taking down a young Florian Wirtz (who had scored the equalizer for Germany following Dani Olmo's lead goal) in the 124th minute in order to avoid any risk of losing and giving a spectacle to fans.

Winning is everything in life, no matter what, and whoever says any thing differently is bound to lose (and believe me, because I learnt this the hard way the last couple of years).

Think only of yourself and run over Florian Wirtz if it comes to it.

And then we have refereeing: a light handball and VAR review gave Germany a penalty kick over Denmark. But a clear handball in the area by a Spaniard was not deemed worthy even of a VAR review by the referee, who let the game play on. The problem is not VAR or whatever tools they use; nor is it the rules, but it is the inconsistent refereeing that seems to change from game to game.

I cannot wait till we get AI referee bots, because at least they will take responsibility.

So now Spain are in the semifinals and likely winners of the tournament. Who can take them on? Perhaps all time boring France who defeated Portugal after penalty kicks in an all-boring match that reminded of the dead boring final in 2016. Two sides who are both willing to shed any pretense of playing a game we all love, for the mere fact of winning.

It is sad, but that is today's world: win win win, no matter what or who you run over on the way.

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