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Guide to Soccer/Football
February 27, 2006 1:41 AM   Subscribe

How to Follow Soccer in Europe. A handy comparison of American sports leagues and European soccer. Also: The competitions. Going to the game.
posted by Ljubljana (64 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Ljubljana at 1:41 AM on February 27, 2006


Heh, I realize the article is aimed at an American audience, but the word 'soccer' just really bugs me. European Football would be much better.
posted by sebas at 1:59 AM on February 27, 2006


Thanks for posting this...this is one of those things that I wanted to know, but it never occurred to me that someone might have put all this information in one place. (Kind of a slogan for the Internet)
posted by Brian James at 2:03 AM on February 27, 2006


interesting synopsis.

I've always wanted to get more into Real Football, but it's hard from over here. Canada should have a team.
posted by blacklite at 2:16 AM on February 27, 2006


interesting stuff, thanks for posting, but does this mean worldcupfilter is now up and running ; )
posted by quarsan at 2:31 AM on February 27, 2006


Sidetrack: I really hate the notion that the round ball game has a unique right to use the football name. There are many codes of football, all equally valid, and the one which deserves the name is the one that's dominant in your locale. Apart from anything else, most of the arguments miss the fact that the word 'soccer' is as English as English can be and possibly predates the codification of the game. It came into use precisely because that particular game was, at the time, nothing like the dominant code of football., and needed to be differentiated in the context it was most commonly played, English public schools.

So, in summary, call it what you need to to make yourself understood and ignore anyone who tells you you can't call it soccer. ;)
posted by vbfg at 2:36 AM on February 27, 2006


Heh, I realize the article is aimed at an American audience, but the word 'soccer' just really bugs me.

The word soccer is English. It originates from the period when the official rules for football were being codified. Football branched into two distinct types: association football, which is what we know as football today; and rugby football, as played at the Rugby public* school. The English have a tendency to corrupt often used words by taking a distinct syllable of a word and adding the 'urr' sound to it. Hence, assocation became 'soccer', and rugby became 'rugger'.

In the UK, public schools are private schools.
posted by veedubya at 2:37 AM on February 27, 2006


vbfg beat me to it.
posted by veedubya at 2:39 AM on February 27, 2006


The English have a tendency to corrupt often used words by taking a distinct syllable of a word and adding the 'urr' sound to it.

The upper class English or people with such pretensions. If you ever hear a Rugby League fan refer to his game as 'rugger' the next sounds you'll hear will be of him getting his head kicked in by his peers. Rightly so IMO, bloody Quislings. :)
posted by vbfg at 2:40 AM on February 27, 2006


I realize it is the / a correct usage of the word. I just don't like it. On the continent we have fussbal, voetbal and le football, no need to change whole words around just because the english speakers mess up their own language :)

But it is a cool article, thanks for posting!
posted by sebas at 2:44 AM on February 27, 2006


But here we have several versions of football. In my town, Bradford, Rugby League is the dominant football. In others it is Rugby Union. There are variations of these games which are dominant in other English speaking areas of the world, Australia and New Zealand for example. We have the words because we need them.

Anyhoo, this is digression. I shall leave you to your kicking a ball and chasing after it - repeat to end. ;)
posted by vbfg at 2:51 AM on February 27, 2006


From the article:

Country Names of some reknowned ('Elite') clubs
England Manchested United, Arsenal, Liverpool


"Manchested"? Not sure which elite league they would play in. A burly one, to be sure.

And where are my Chelsea boys in this list? Eh? Eh?
posted by LondonYank at 2:56 AM on February 27, 2006


The good news is that there is excitement for the lower clubs at the end of the season as they jockey for survival, unlike American sports where the bottom clubs seek to stay bottom and grab the first draft choice.

Is it really true that US teams are playing to lose?
posted by ninebelow at 2:56 AM on February 27, 2006


Names of some reknowned ('Elite') clubs
Italy: Inter Milan, AC Milan, AS Roma


No Juventus?! Pbbbt. Otherwise good article.

/juventina
posted by romakimmy at 3:06 AM on February 27, 2006


I know it is a digression and I shouldn't bang on about it, but when I pointed the page out to my wife (a Chelsea fan) her first comment was "well the first thing he should do is not call it soccer" :)

Interesting article though - it's odd when you are so used to the structure of these competitions seeing it as an outsider. Also interesting to read the page about going to the game - are games in America really so bad? Everyone gets told what to sing and then leaves before the end?
posted by winjer at 3:06 AM on February 27, 2006


This may be a quibble, but the third link "Going to the game" applies much more to continental European matches than to any English match I've been to.

Just for the record, in most English Premiership (top-flight) matches:

- Serious security, i.e. you might be able to bring in a flag (maybe) but definitely not a flare. And certainly not a honking big SLR camera, as I have discovered to my detriment. I have never seen flares, or drums or anything you might normally see in, for instance, an Italian Serie A match.

- Drinking during the match in the stands is a serious no-no, unless you have some of the seats right in front of an executive box, in which case you are not really supposed to drink outside the box but it's tolerated as you're viewed as unlikely to be a troublemaker. Otherwise alcohol in the stands is totally out of the question.

- Home and away fans are only segregated when there is a serious chance of trouble brewing i.e. for two historical rival teams or two teams in the same town (a "derby" match). Most of the time fans intermingle outside and, aside from the occasional scuffle, there isn't much trouble. There are too many cops and too many large horse creatures patrolling for anything to kick off. All the "Green Street" style hooliganism and organised fights tend to take place away from the prying eye of the public and police.

- The majority of fans at most top-flight stadiums across Europe are in fact assigned seats. We only stand when something fun happens like a shot on goal, or a particularly nasty tackle.
posted by LondonYank at 3:08 AM on February 27, 2006


Yes it is true, ninebelow. Not that the players throw games or anything, but coaches will get a mandate from the front office to play the young players for the remainder of the season so that they can "rebuild".

The only time I ever saw a game thrown by players was here in Spain. A few years back cross-town rivals Sevilla and Betis were both on the verge of relegation to the second division, in fact Sevilla was already mathematically relegated and Betis needed for some other team to lose in order to escape relegation. By coincidence that other team (I forget who) was playing at Sevilla that weekend. Sevilla's fans whistled their own players with more gusto then they ever whistled an opposing team whenever they did anything remotely good, because they wanted them to lose (ergo Betis to also be relegated). They also cheered every time one of their players lost a ball or missed a mark, etc. The pressure was so great that the Sevilla players eventually stopped playing and of course lost. At the end of the game their fans cheered as if they had just won the championship..... It's called spite.

Interesting insight into the Andalusian character.


*footnote: the goalkeeper that season for Sevilla happened to be an American, who was "injured" at halftime and didn't come out to play the second half. When interviewed after the game he seemed uninjured but really pissed off. Turns out he had pulled himself out of the game because he couldn't deal with being cheered on to lose on purpose. He left the team after that season.

Interesting insight into the American character.
posted by sic at 3:13 AM on February 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Last comment, I promise:

You can generally buy tickets at the gate, however it is better to book online. The leagues' websites can connect you to the team and stadium of your choice.

Unless, of course, it's a match you would actually want to go to, in which case, forget it. I have spent a good couple of hours this season on fruitless internet ticket frenzies for top matches and come away empty handed.
posted by LondonYank at 3:14 AM on February 27, 2006


LondonYank: yeah, the article seems to be missing the way in which various stadium disasters have influenced the game. All seater stadia are a legal requirement in the UK (I can't say I've seen much public urination either, at least inside the ground.)
posted by ninebelow at 3:24 AM on February 27, 2006


(ok, maybe not my last comment)

ninebelow: I would love to see the reaction if you rocked up to, say, Old Trafford, walked right down to the sideline holding a pint and a flare, and proceeded to have a whizz on the fence.

Good times, good times.
posted by LondonYank at 3:38 AM on February 27, 2006


What LondonYank said. This seems to be about continental football, not much of it applies to games in the UK.
posted by fire&wings at 3:57 AM on February 27, 2006


Missing Chelsea off the "Elite Clubs" list is almost criminal. I think this article may be a few years out of date.
posted by iso_bars at 4:34 AM on February 27, 2006


sic gets my award for the most over-dramatic generalistions of character ever drawn from a single incident...

What your story talks about is fanatical football supporters and a professional football player, not Andalusians and Americans... Your conclusions, however, do give an interesting insight into your character...
posted by benzo8 at 5:02 AM on February 27, 2006


It'd be nice to see a site that could do this same thing without condescension. And why be proud of public urination (or at least unapologetic)?

Also, I don't know anyone who leaves a game that's contested in America. Leaving is one's way of showing that they believe the situation hopeless.

A noble endeavor, now get an editor.
posted by Eideteker at 5:44 AM on February 27, 2006


Yes, this does seem rather out of date and not applicable to many Premiership matches. All-seaters have been the norm now for... what, a decade? The exclusion of Chelsea from the list dates it as at least 3-4 years old. This would be fantastic as a wiki project.

I, too, would love to see someone take a public piss at Old Trafford
posted by blag at 5:52 AM on February 27, 2006


are games in America really so bad? Everyone gets told what to sing and then leaves before the end?

They don't in general sing at all; at best there's a little directed chanting. The article hugely exaggerates people leaving before the end.
posted by fleacircus at 6:02 AM on February 27, 2006


The only time I ever saw a game thrown by players was here in Spain. A few years back cross-town rivals Sevilla and Betis were both on the verge of relegation to the second division, in fact Sevilla was already mathematically relegated and Betis needed for some other team to lose in order to escape relegation. By coincidence that other team (I forget who) was playing at Sevilla that weekend. Sevilla's fans whistled their own players with more gusto then they ever whistled an opposing team whenever they did anything remotely good, because they wanted them to lose (ergo Betis to also be relegated).

The same thing happened in England on the last day of the season last year. Southampton would be relegated if they failed to beat Manchester United, and West Bromwich Albion won. West Brom just happened to be playing Portsmouth, who are Southampton's deadly rivals. Now I'm not going to say that Portsmouth's players were so unprofessional as to not try, but their fans were certainly supporting West Brom that day!
posted by salmacis at 6:13 AM on February 27, 2006


ninebelow:(I can't say I've seen much public urination either, at least inside the ground.)

Yes, things are definitely better since stadia went all-seater.
posted by salmacis at 6:15 AM on February 27, 2006


I didn't think this was a particularly well written article. It was factually wrong in places and questionable in others. Still, the most important difference between European soccer and American sports (other than soccer) should have been stated first:

In soccer the governing body is FIFA, which controls all aspects of the game worldwide. Under FIFA, there are six regional confederations. Each country has a national Football Association, which is affiliated to it's regional confederation. Every player, official and club in a country - from the top professionals down to the Sunday morning pub teams - must be registered with the national FA.

The Laws of the Game are decided by a body called the International Board, which consists of eight members: one each from the FAs of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and four from FIFA. (This is because of the UK's role in orginally codifying the Laws.) Every match played anywhere in the world, at any level, must follow these rules. There is no scope for a national association, or a league within a national association to modify any of the Laws.

This is in marked contrast to American sports (other than soccer), where the governing body is the league itself. MLS is forced to play by FIFA rules. The NHL and NBA take no notice of the international governing bodies. Given the USA's performance in the Olympics in ice hockey and basketball, perhaps they should play by internation rules!
posted by salmacis at 6:32 AM on February 27, 2006


In no way, shape or form are Chelsea a club that deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Liverpool or Manchester United. They are elite in financial terms only. They are a club with a lot of money. They have nothing - fanbase, European success, tradition of domestic success - that earmarks a club as truly "elite," IMHO.

I am not a Liverpool supporter, but look at their achievements - 18 League Championships, 5 European Cups, 6 FA Cups I think...Chelsea are not on the same page.
posted by fire&wings at 6:57 AM on February 27, 2006


salmacis: the thing is, the NHL and NBA are strictly looking for dollars, not olympic medals. Yeah, olympic medals are great and all that, but for an every-4-years event? They're much more concerned about selling lots of Kobe jerseys.

Gary Bettman, in particular, has massacred the NHL in the hopes of gaining marketshare in the US, only to see the game decline drastically in quality. I personally enjoy international hockey much more, but the NHL has resisted employing international rules for many years. Of course, the Americans (and Canadians) might have done poorly this year in the olympic hockey arena, they *did* manage to finish 1-2 in the olympics last time around.

As for the linked article, I thought it was a great little tutorial. As a Canadian living in Ireland, I have NO FRIGGIN CLUE about all the different soccer leagues/cups/teams. Nevermind all the Irish sports as well (hurling is my new hockey, that sport is awesome!). This was a nice little intro, so now I can at least ask my girlfriend to explain some things a bit further to me. :)
posted by antifuse at 7:07 AM on February 27, 2006


I really like the idea of relegation, imagine if the NY Rangers or the Texas Rangers had to take their expensive contracted players into a minor league when they were in the gutter a few years back.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:38 AM on February 27, 2006


"And certainly not a honking big SLR camera, as I have discovered to my detriment."
LY

I succesfully got in a vx1000 3 chip video camera. I have the video of a security pointing me out to their supervisor and then.... nothing...

"Interesting insight into the American character"
I have no idea about the veracity of this statement, or the description of the event which lead to it. But There has been conflict with some of the few Americans to play professionally in Europe. Over here, to be payed to play soccer is a novel, somewhat southern-California-sunnytimes-tanned-athletic-penis sort of vocation. Over there it a day in, day out... job. Whatever club you work for owns you and tells you what to do and what to wear. It is work, and only very rarely glamorous work.
posted by hatchetjack at 8:11 AM on February 27, 2006


what has always interested me about soccer in england is the difference in which we refer to the teams.

for example, in the nba, we have "the miami heat". but in england, you have "manchester united". it seems that to refer to the team as "the united" simply isn't done; it's always "united", or, if you're feeling cocky, "man u". i don't know if this is specific to teams with plural team names that have no s (of which london's "arsenal" would seem to qualify). are the wolverhampton wanderers "the wanderers", or merely "wanderers"?
posted by moz at 8:16 AM on February 27, 2006


But There has been conflict with some of the few Americans to play professionally in Europe. Over here, to be payed to play soccer is a novel, somewhat southern-California-sunnytimes-tanned-athletic-penis sort of vocation. Over there it a day in, day out... job. Whatever club you work for owns you and tells you what to do and what to wear. It is work, and only very rarely glamorous work.

where is "here" and where is "there"? it seems like most athletes in america here have to work their asses off, especially the fringe players (the "scrappers" and the "gym rats") who don't have much natural talent.
posted by moz at 8:18 AM on February 27, 2006


moz: It seems to vary from team to team. Teams have nicknames, that generally aren't part of their real name, and the use of the prefix 'the' seems more prevelant in those instances. For example, Sheffield United are known as the Blades, I guess cos it's a steel city and a lot of knives and the like were made there. In their case being referred to as the Blades is pretty common by their fans. Bradford City are the main footy team in my town and their nickname is the Bantams. Nobody ever calls them that other than the occassional journalist and club officials writing in club literature, yet the nickname as far as I know is as old as the club.

I have a suspiscion this is different in some instances in the south of England, but then all their success in football has been bought by Russian oligarchs so I'd suggest not taking them too seriously anyway.
posted by vbfg at 8:29 AM on February 27, 2006


And on re-reading I see you probably knew all that anyway. :)
posted by vbfg at 8:32 AM on February 27, 2006


Someone please explain the offside rule(s) now, please.
posted by GuyZero at 8:32 AM on February 27, 2006


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offside_law_%28football%29

The offside rule is not hard to grasp at all. It's just one of those irritating things that has entered popular culture that makes you want to kill anyone who references it (for example, leaving the toilet seat up.)
posted by ninebelow at 8:54 AM on February 27, 2006


English Football Nicknames

Over here, to be payed to play soccer is a novel, somewhat southern-California-sunnytimes-tanned-athletic-penis sort of vocation.

I don't know where you got this stereotype, but it is pretty darn inaccurate.

Who are the hot players in domestic play these days? Freddy Adu, Eddie Johnson, Brian Ching, do they fit this stereotype? How about the number 1 pick in the recent Superdraft?

I think you may have confused soccer with surfing.

(And before you say it, one player does not a stereotype make).
posted by Otis at 8:57 AM on February 27, 2006


"Just do it in the fellas pocket in front of you."

Takin' the piss?
posted by lalochezia at 8:58 AM on February 27, 2006


Basically- the player you are passing the ball to must be on the same plane or behind the defender WHEN you strike the ball. Forget about where the goalkeeper is.

RE: the separation of visiting fans: Before the AC Milan/Udinese match I attended last year, I was outside the stadium when coming toward me I saw what I thought was some kind of parade.

Turned out it was all of the visiting fans from Udine, being escorted en masse into the stadium by police.

Aftter the match, they remained in the stands and were not allowed to leave until all of the Milan fans had vacated.
posted by wfc123 at 9:01 AM on February 27, 2006


Moz, there was a semi-related question on AskMeFi a while back.
posted by djgh at 9:22 AM on February 27, 2006


I agree that the the "Going to the game" link is more applicable to continental games. I spent a summer going to see St. Pauli play quite a bit, and I went to some other Bundesliga games as well, and I was suprised how boring an English Premiership game was in contrast. Granted, I did see Fulham play twice that summer, and they were the most boring, but Arsenal wasn't quite as exciting as a St. Pauli game wither.
posted by kendrak at 9:29 AM on February 27, 2006


Sorry, but it's actually the money that make Chelsea an elite side now. Look at that roster.

It's semantics, I guess.

Maybe the word "storied" would not be used to describe Chelsea.

But right now, that side and Real are as elite as you can get. It's almost frightening.
posted by wfc123 at 9:35 AM on February 27, 2006


I am in no way denigrating North American soccer culture..

But everybody should learn to embrace stereotypes.
posted by hatchetjack at 9:50 AM on February 27, 2006


This reminds me a lot of one of those guides to decimisation that were handed out to pensioners used to the "simpler" system of hapenny bits, shillings and guineas.
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on February 27, 2006


whoops, I meant for you to embrace stereotypes.


pqwnd
posted by hatchetjack at 10:06 AM on February 27, 2006


I'm shocked that Portugal is mentioned and the Netherlands are not. That can't be right.
posted by jouke at 10:11 AM on February 27, 2006


Without looking ay my FIFA law book, a player is in an offside position if he/she is closer to the opponents goal line than both the ball and second to last defender at the time the ball is touched by a team member.

It is not a penalty in itself to be offside. It only becomes a penalty if the player does one of the following. 1. Interfers with play. 2. Interfers with an opponent. 3. Gains and advantage by being in that position.

It's simple really.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:20 AM on February 27, 2006


oops - gains an advantage...
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:21 AM on February 27, 2006


It's been said above, but there's quite a lot of errors in those article.

Oh, and - rugby union is rugby, rugby league is never mentioned, football is soccer and gaelic football is football. At least to me.
posted by ascullion at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2006


Oh, some of us sing at American matches.

I'm right behind the net at FC Dallas games, standing and singing with the supporters' group. It's a lot of fun. There are similar groups for most of the MLS teams, which try to carry a little of the world soccer atmosphere into the US game. Probably the biggest would be the two large groups in DC (Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava).

US soccer, as noted, is gaining ground. Eddie Johnson came up through the Nike camps in Florida, and just signed a big contract. A couple of very important moves made last year (Generation Adidas development project, the addition of an MLS reserve league) should ensure more homegrown talent, and a much stronger base for the sport here.
posted by First Post at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2006


now i know. soccer is all about 3l33t clubx0rz!!!1!!!.
posted by 3.2.3 at 2:04 PM on February 27, 2006


Granted, I did see Fulham play twice that summer, and they were the most boring...
posted by kendrak at 12:29 PM EST on February 27 [!]


As this is a football post I was bound to chip in at some point -somebody mentioned my beloved Fulham! Wa-hey! Even though it was in a wholly negative context, it still makes me very happy. I guess I'm what you could call 'a fan'
posted by ob at 2:14 PM on February 27, 2006


ob, you're a fulham fan? wow. one of my best friends is a huge fulham supporter, which is why i went to the games. i can appreciate devotion to a team like fulham, but the two games i watched weren't quite as thrilling as a st. pauli game. the fans weren't as crazy.
posted by kendrak at 2:43 PM on February 27, 2006


moz - Wolverhampton Wanderers are known as 'Wolves'. Or 'Dirty Yam Yam Bastards'. It depends on your point of view really.
posted by MrMustard at 2:51 PM on February 27, 2006


Not cheap, this footie lark. How to raise the dosh.
posted by StephenB at 3:27 PM on February 27, 2006


ascullion: Oh, and - rugby union is rugby...

Some of the more militant Rugby League fans, of which there are unfortunately too many, would take great exception to that. I say Rugby when I mean Union as well though. I get more upset over RL nomenclature when people don't say the full name. It's like the Sex Pistols. You know what people mean when they say 'the Pistols', but the name doesn't carry its full force unless said in full.
posted by vbfg at 3:48 PM on February 27, 2006


Hey Kendrak! Your friend is obviously correct! Fulham are a ...ahem... an erratic team so I don't doubt that you can see a dull game. Our fans are some of the most subdued in English football. Passionate, but strangely subdued. Anyway, I'm glad that you got to go to 'the cottage'. It really is a historic ground in a beautiful location. Next time they'll play a blinder!
posted by ob at 4:30 PM on February 27, 2006


I got to see Fulham play in the MLS All Star game last year. Their play was a little, um, uninspired that day. The best part of the match was seeing Jeff Cunningham ("southern-California-sunnytimes-tanned-athletic-penis" sort of guy that he is) score two goals in the last five minutes in the town that snubbed him.
posted by Otis at 5:58 AM on February 28, 2006


Fulham were underwhelming in the MLS All Star game, but it was a good opportunity for us to see MLS players. As a result Simon Elliot moved to Fulham in January. Indeed US soccer players are increasingly getting picked up by the smaller premiership clubs. The main reason being that they're good and because they don't come from Europe (or a footballing nation) they're cheap and willing.
posted by ob at 6:57 AM on February 28, 2006


Is Elliot getting good playing time? He was one of the few bright spots in a dark and dismal Columbus Crew season last year.
posted by Otis at 7:27 AM on February 28, 2006


He's started in most matches and he's fitting in well with the rest of the squad.
posted by ob at 1:45 PM on February 28, 2006


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