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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Memo to Platini: don't change Euro 2012's winning format

This piece of mine appears over at The Week/The First Post.

Neil Clark: The next European Championships will expand from 16 to 24 teams. It will make for a more boring tournament

DEAR M. PLATINI - Like other football fans across Europe, and indeed the world, I've been enthralled by Euro 2012.

We've had some great games, lots of goals and some tremendous excitement. There have been shocks and surprises aplenty - with Russia, who started the tournament with a 4-1 demolition of the Czech Republic, being eliminated after a defeat by Greece, and Holland, one of the tournament favourites, failing to register even a single point.

The 2008 Euros was a fantastic tournament, too: we can all remember the incredible never-say-die exploits of Turkey, the attacking dynamism of a young and emerging Germany and the brilliance of the tournament winners Spain, but 2012 has surpassed even that - and to think the knockout stages haven't even begun yet.

This year's European Championships has been so very different from the boring and sterile 2010 World Cup, where there were many disappointing matches.

Yet my enjoyment of the tournament is tinged with sadness. I fear that due to changes that your organisation is making to the competition, we will never have such an exciting European Championships again.

You can read the whole of my Memo to Platini here.


Douglas said...

If I were the Ukraine coach, I'd say "One day England will be cheated by the same kind of lousy goal-line call our team got cheated by today, and when it does, I will laugh and Laugh and LAUGH!"

Neil Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neil Clark said...

Hi Douglas,

It did happen to England-against Germany in the 2010 World Cup, when Lampard's shot was clearly over the line.

Changing sports: you might be interested to hear me talking about Matt Cain's perfect game and putting it in its wider sporting context on BBC Radio Five Live here- the item comes in at around 2hrs 50m into the programme.

Anonymous said...

Seen this Neil?

Never going to take you seriously, old lad, until you face up to these realities, and change one of your advertised stances accordingly. You queer your whole reputation by this one glitch; shame.

Witch-king of Angmar said...

There is yet to be a goal-less draw at this EURO. Remarkable, isn't it?

(I propably cursed the tournament now)

Douglas said...

The BBC seems to stop making the Five Live broadcasts available after a week. But I am greatly pleased that Matt Cain's remarkable achievement sparked your interest.

This season has been particularly noteworthy with two perfect games (Phil Humber for the White Sox, and Matt Cain for the Giants).

Did you mention that it was the first time that an umpire has been behind the plate for two perfect games? Ted Barrett was the home plate umpire for David Cone's perfect game for the New York Yankees, and for Matt Cain's game as well. It might be quite some time before something like that happens again.

To dream of pitching a perfect game is one thing. To speak openly of one's dream of pitching a perfect game is an entirely different level of audacity. I take inspiration to dream of great things from Matt Cain.

The reign of Cain is boggling to the brain!

Neil Clark said...

Hi Douglas- Cain's performance was truly inspirational. btw-What's yr team?

Witch-king: Yes, let's hope it stays that way until the end! There's also been only one penalty awarded, which is quite remarkable. I think it's better if refs err on the side of caution when awarding penalties as otherwise it encourages diving. I think players understand now that if they go down with minimal contact, they won't get a penalty.

Douglas said...

My team is the Minnesota Twins, which last won a World Series in 1991. The last two seasons haven't been very good, with otherwise disappointing Francisco Liriano's no-hitter in 2011 one of the rare bright spots amid the gloom.

Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire dropped by my neighborhood in December of 2007, and I had a nice chat with him.