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10 Things I hated about Euro 2008



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Or rather, 10 things I hated about the abysmal Euro 2008 coverage by the British media (online and TV).

Football is a source of joy, but the buffoonery surrounding football can drive the viewer to the madhouse. Here’s a look at the top 10 reasons I’ll be spending the summer ‘in rehab‘ after being put through the misery that is the British media’s coverage of Euro 2008:

10. Aragones is now a ‘good guy’?

Aragones was conveniently the fall-figure when he made a ‘somewhat’ racist comment about Thierry Henry, but now that he’s had the perfect swansong, he’s a great guy? Or is this not the right time for us to ‘remember’ that Aragones has his flaws, and that Spain won not only because they made the fewest mistakes but because they never really met their match in skill and preparation. France v Spain, with France fit to fight, or Portugal v Spain would have been a genuinely good game. Ditto for Italy (with Toni scoring goals and Pirlo on the pitch).

Not to take any credit away from Aragones or Spain – he was tactically excellent and Spain are worthy champions. Which brings us to…

9. Why do we insist on the ‘worthy’ / ‘deserving’ label?

It’s as if someone in the past didn’t ‘deserve’ to win it. Or that if a lesser team had won it, they wouldn’t be ‘worthy’ champions.

Italy were worthy champions in 2006 – they were the better team in the final and got the win fair and square.

Greece were deserving champions in 2004 – they won their games throughout the tournament fairly and beat better teams than themselves.

Enough of this ‘worthy’ business.

8. The ‘Great’ Performers

Cesc Fabregas is a very good player but as Iniesta and Xavi showed, those two are better and far more experienced. Fab still has some way to go, despite the praise heaped on him after the quarter and semi finals.

David Villa really showed up for one game and 5 minutes for the other. 4 goals to show for it and he gets the Golden Boot. For a wonderful tournament, where were the strikers?

Cristiano Ronaldo had an average handful of games and most of it can be attributed to the fact that he didn’t have midfielders creating for him nor forwards to play off on. Like Ballack, Ronaldo was hampered by the lack of ability of his teammates. Ditto for Arshavin.

Torres and Podolski – two fantastically talented footballers, one coming in on the back of a great season and the other trying to prove himself all over again. Two footballers who fall over at every opportunity and yet are strong enough to outjump most defenders and fast enough to nip past any set of players. Come on guys, really…

7. The ‘New’ Arshavin fans

Get off it. If he was as good as they claim he is he would have been snapped up a season ago. Not to say that his agent has tried – they were hawking him off to the Premier League in January as well. Don’t get me wrong – he’s a very good player. But the hype came too quickly, too easily.

6. Best Tournament Ever?

Really, is it? People point to the Dutch extravaganza in the Group of Death, Spain’s quiet domination, the Russian revolution and Turkey’s amazing comebacks as proof that this was great, entertaining football played in true attacking spirit.

In reality, the football on offer was poor – Portugal were muscled out by a technically-limited Germany, Holland’s fine counter-attacking couldn’t handle Russia’s slick movement in which they hardly gave the ball away, Russians themselves were undone by their impatience and Spain triumphed despite having a shaky defence thanks to them playing an anchorman and using the pace of Villa / Torres for viciously-quick counter-attacks.

Some good tactics? Yes. Some great football? Yes. But there was a lot of boring, below-par stuff, nothing that makes it a fantastic tournament. Unless you’re a fan of the four teams that got to the semifinals.

5. The Promise To Unearth Hidden Gems

We were promised that Euro 2008 would bring forward the stars of tomorrow. As it was, it was today’s stars doing much of the talking, with only Pepe and perhaps Fabregas – both ‘established’ in reputations – being the outstanding ‘youngsters’. Benzema, Gomez, Nani…pffffftttttt. The Russians? How Premier-League centric do you have to be to think that Arshavin is a ‘hidden gem’?

4. The Commentary

Please, spare me. Not only do they have their ‘scripts’ which they mindlessly stick to (or fall back on after events take a breather from contradicting them) in the face of obvious truth. Cliches upon cliches pepper the filtered narrative – and all of this would have been palatable if they got it right some of the time. They hardly do, which is why watching the game without sound (except when the visuals alone doesn’t tell the whole story, like when an off-the-ball incident happens) is so refreshing.

They could improve things by getting public ratings for all pundits and sending the worst of them back to doing something useful, like investing their time training young footballers.

3. Fan Watch

For all the focus on the fans and the wags, this was more of a WAG-watch or BOOB-watch than fan-watch. To be blunt, if a lady had her tits hanging out she’d get photographed, but the pretty ladies had to be semi-nude to even get a glance. It made it so hard to find good pictures for the euro 08 babes roundup…What happened to style and subtlety?

2. Cristiano Ronaldo Rumours

For the love of god. Please. Decide. Get on with it. The tournament was over-shadowed by the Ronaldo rumours and even when he went off on holidays they followed him around and ogled his new girlfriend, Nerieda Gallardo, and concocted half-brained rumours with one hand tied behind their back (or otherwise occupied)… He’s good, he’s really good, but is he bigger than Euro 2008?

1. The Anti-English Rants

So England didn’t make it. It hurt, but big deal, we can move on right? Afraid not.

The British are a sadist bunch, and none are more sadist and prone to self-infliction of pain than the press themselves. The journalists brilliantly tapped into British guilt for not making it to the Euros and turned June into a celebration of their own failures. How refreshing to see a tournament without England? How refreshing to see a tournament without the WAGs dancing on tabletops? How refreshing to not have to deal with boring, boring England?

Except that England were miles ahead of several teams playing at the Euros and the nauseating coverage of WAGs was a staple for the media only 2 years ago (everyone made a feature on ‘Euro 2008 WAGs / Euro 2008 Babes’, from Fox Sports to BBC to Guardian to the Sun and all the blogs too). Boring England? Romania, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, Poland…even Sweden and France and Italy…were boring as hell. Under Capello, I’d fancy England to beat half the teams at the Euros.

Some honesty would be refreshing too.

And now it’s your turn…

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.