Monday, June 9, 2014

World Cup 2014 Part 2

This post was originally a transcript of a Soundcloud podcast. That content is being moved to YouTube.

Why is “soccer” called soccer? Steven answers this question—and more!—in his second podcast about the 2014 FIFA World Cup. See him cast wisdom on the following questions:
7. What is handball?
8. What is offsides?
9. What are red and yellow cards?
10. What’s a group stage?
Listen in and become a soccer expert for those World Cup Watch Parties!

Welcome to the SteventheThorn Podcast! You’re listening to this podcast because I’m an authority on many things. Why am I an authority on many things? Because I have glasses and a beard.

In our last podcast, I talked about the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. We learned:
1. The FIFA World Cup is an international soccer tournament which started following the success of EA Sports’ FIFA 98 videogame.
2. FIFA, the governing body of soccer, was named after the videogame.
3. The 2014 World Cup is in Brazil, which is one of four countries in South America on the Risk world map.
4. The United States might win the World Cup if Lebron James played soccer.
5. Landon Donovan is the United States’ and MLS’ all-time leading scorer, and he should have been on the USA World Cup roster.

Now we continue our series on the Top 20 Things to Know About the 2014 World Cup. Today we discuss 6-10.

6. Why is it called soccer?
To answer this question, I must first answer why football is called football. Long, long ago, in a mythical land known as Europe, rich people owned horses and land. They played games on horseback whilst riding around their land. These games include such memorable sports as polo, racing, fox-hunting, and Mount & Blade.
The commoners could not afford horses. Therefore, they played on foot. Technically, you could say that the rich people were playing on foot too, but not their own feet. They were playing on the horse’s feet. The commoners had to play on their own feet, and they devised many games on their feet. They called these games “football” to distinguish them from the games of the rich folk.
Football has always been the working man’s game. You just need a ball, a flat space, and some French people to drag their feet on instituting goal-line technology.
Many different kinds of football arose, such as rugby football (rugby league and rugby union) and association football. Association football is our modern-day soccer. Football. Calcio. Fussball.

And, of course, American football follows in this tradition. It has nothing to do with the amount of times you hit the ball with your foot, but rather it’s all about the fact that the sport is played on foot.

Legend has it that someone abbreviated association football into “soccer” by taking the “soc” from the word “association.” Then, through some obscure etymological means, the word “soccer” stuck in Canada and the US of A, but football replaced “association football” in Mother England.

So basically, when the English whine about Yanks calling soccer “soccer” and American football “football,” they have only themselves to blame.

7. What is handball?
Oh dear. So you’ve heard about that, have you?  It is more appropriately called “handling the ball.” Allow me a brief read from the FIFA Laws of the game:

The point of the law is to prevent people from playing the ball with their hands. It’s a difference between hand-to-ball and ball-to-hand. If your hand is in an unnatural position and you hit the ball, that’s a penalty. If your hand is pressed flat against your chest or your leg and the ball just happens to hit it, that should not be a penalty.
Unfortunately, not all referees understand the rule, and most other people don’t understand it either. But a few people do.
No one understands the handling rule better than Luis Suarez and the country of Ghana.
Just search Luiz Suarez handball vs Ghana onYouTube. You’ll see what I mean.

8. What is offsides?
I will try to explain offsides in the most confusing way possible. The spirit of the law is to prevent what is called “poaching,” which is what the villain in The Rescuers Down Under was trying to do to the golden eagle. The idea is that we don’t want an attacking player of Team A to spend all of his time next to Team B’s goal, chatting up the goalkeeper and distracting him until he grabs a loose ball and buries it into the back of the old onion bag.

Three conditions must be met for a player to be in offsides position:
a) The attacking player must be in the opposing half of the field.
2) The attacking player must be in front of the ball.
d) There must be fewer than two opposing players between the attacker and the goal.

Therefore, in order for a player to remain onside (which is the place you want to be), there must be two defenders between the attacker and the goal at the time a ball is passed to the attacker.

I’ll try to demonstrate it with my fingers here. See? Here’s the goal, here’s the goalkeeper, here’s the defender, and here’s the attacker level with the defender. The ball is passed to the attacker, he’s onside. But if he’s over here, between the defender and the goalkeeper when the ball is passed, he’s offside, got it?
I hope my visuals have been helpful.

9. What are red cards and yellow cards?
A yellow card is a caution. That means that the referee has had enough of fouls and offensives from a certain player, so he’s writing the player’s number down in a little book. If the player commits another foul and receives a second yellow, the referee will then show a red card. A red card is an ejection. The player must leave the game and will be suspended for the next game.
Two yellow cards equals a red card.
If a player receives a straight red, say for knocking down a Ghanian shot on goal with his hands, then he will be suspended for the next two games. More serious offenses receive longer suspensions.

I would personally love to carry around red and yellow cards for everyday life, so I could caution people and eject them as needed.

10. What’s a group stage?
That’s a great question, citizen. As I mentioned in the last podcast, the 32 teams are divided into 8 groups of 4. Each team will play 3 games in group play, meaning that they play each of their group opponents one time. The top two teams from each group will advance to the Round of 16, where it’s one game elimination from then on. After the Round of 16 is the Quarterfinals, then the Semifinals, and then the Third Place game and the Final.

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