Every four years the World Cup is held, and every four years, Americans everywhere ask exactly why we’re supposed to care about soccer. As somebody that avidly watches football but played soccer for more than a decade, I feel uniquely qualified to compare some of the major differences and decide which sport is truly the best. Let us begin.
Football players wear helmets, shoulder pads, flack jackets, knee pads, thigh pads, mouth guards, gloves, forearm pads…the list goes on.
Soccer players wear shin guards and soccer goalkeeper jerseys.
That’s it. People can pick on soccer players for being weak sissies, but they don’t run around wearing 40 pounds of Kevlar body armor. This one goes to Futbol.
The clock on a football game may say 60 minutes, but anybody that’s watched a game knows that it’s more like a 3 hour engagement. Between commercials, time outs, half-time, penalties, instant replay, injuries, and huddles, what is supposed to be a 1 hour game quickly balloons – and that’s just during the regular season. In soccer, the clock never stops. If you’re injured they get you off the field as soon as possible, teams only get three substitutions per game, and there are no time outs. Any time that’s wasted is just added on to the end of the clock so that a game lasts only 90 minutes. Futbol wins on this one.
While Instant Replay in football does add to the length of the game, it also lends to getting the calls right. While there will always be room for human error, having the ability to slow down video to review certainly cuts down on the number of calls that are wrong and change the outcome of games. While soccer doesn’t currently have Instant Replay, this past World Cup and several blown calls during it, are causing there to be more and more calls for some sort of technology to help the refs get the calls right. This one goes to Football.
Doing much beyond spiking the ball in the end zone will draw a penalty flag and probably a fine in the NFL. The days of Emmitt Smith taking off his helmet after every touchdown are long gone, and that’s a shame. While football may be the “ultimate team sport”, America has always celebrated individual excellence.
On the other hand, in soccer, celebrations often involve tumbling, piling on, dancing, and sometimes stripping. If you’re not celebrating a goal in soccer it’s because you accidentally scored on your own team. I think we can all agree that Futbol wins this one.
Super Bowl Sunday is an unofficial holiday in the US. The pomp, the circumstance, the pageantry, we love watching football’s biggest game every year. The World Cup is arguably bigger, with 32 teams being invited to compete in a tournament that results in one team, one country, being crowned World Beaters. The Super Bowl only lasts one day, while the World Cup lasts an entire month. That being said, I’m giving this one to Football as the Super Bowl happens every year, and the World Cup once every four.
Every sport has annoying fans. Football has several teams that have cities known for obnoxious fans. The Steelers and the Terrible Towels, anybody that’s ever rooted for the Cowboys, the Black Hole of the Raiders (though the Raiders themselves could be called a black hole) – football fans can obnoxious at best, and mind blowingly annoying at worst.
Soccer has hooligans. Rioting when they win or lose, hooligans destroy property, get in fights, and make a general nuisance of themselves. They give the sport a bad name and embarass themselves and those around them. While part of me wants to call this one a tie with both sports losing, I think I’ll give it to Football as we don’t really hear too much about hooligan activity accept around championship games.
Every sport has superstars, faces of the sport that everybody knows whether they follow the sport or not. For football that star is Tom Brady. The Patriot’s quarterback is known around the world thanks to modeling he does for several clothing lines, not to mention his marriage to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
David Beckham is the Tom Brady of soccer. With a movie named for him (“Bend it Like Beckham” starring Kiera Knightly), a high-profile marriage to former Spice Girl Victoria “Posh Spice” Adams, standing as a fashion icon, and being the face for several international fashion ads, there are few people in the world that aren’t aware of who David Beckham is.
We’ll call this one a tie, with both Futbol and Football having huge international superstars. Looks like we’re going to a tie-breaker.
Football has cheerleaders. While they’re great to look at and are often featured in calendars and make appearances at charity events, there’s one thing that Futbol has that Football hasn’t yet embraced. WAGS. Wives And Girlfriends of Soccer Players have become an institution in soccer, particularly in English soccer.
Often models, actresses, a combination thereof, and almost always in the tabloids, WAGS present much the same appeal as cheerleaders, accept they are far more in the public eye. This one goes to Futbol as does the game.