Wednesday, May 21, 2008

End Of Football Season, Until Next Month

Because Americans Amuck readers want to read, and not just look at purty pictures:

Tonight is the final of the UEFA Champions League, the tournament among the top teams of the various national football leagues in Europe, in Moscow. The first two years we lived here, an English team played in the final both times, only to be defeated (by a Spanish side in 2006 and an Italian side in 2007). I felt like I had some emotional connection to the 2006 game since our neighborhood team, Arsenal , was in it. This year, an English side is certain to win, since the final is between Chelsea, from southwest London, and Manchester United, from, um, Manchester. I don't feel any emotional investment in the game, although I will watch. A contest between those two teams is like watching Notre Dame vs. Michigan--they can't both lose, so I cheer for career-ending injuries.

Now with the final of the FA Cup over the weekend, the football season is over. Or wait, is it? In just a couple of weeks, Euro 2008 begins, the tournament among the national sides of Europe. It's sometimes called the best tournament in football, since it's a tournament among the greatest concentration of really good football-playing nations.

England will not be in it this year, failing to qualify. As a result, it looks like a bad summer for the broadcasters that bet on England being in the tournament. Advertisers have been forced to take a different tack. You'll remember that Mars bars changed their names to Believe bars two years ago for the World Cup. This year Mars is giving away 100,000 footballs to bring back the "kick-about" (the linked article fails to mention Mars' 2006 campaign). To the extent that people are outside playing a game rather than inside watching it, that's probably a good thing. It does smack of desperation, however.

And then, the tournament's over in late June, and it's over for awhile right? Wrong. The Community Shield match to kick off the English season is Aug. 10. And it all starts again ....

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