Five things you should know about football

With David Beckham and the LA Galaxy coming into town to play a friendly game against the Vancouver Whitecaps it’s time to learn a little bit about football. So in the run up to Tuesday’s game, tickets still on sale [wc], I’m going to take this oppertunity to write about the sport I love. Today then, five things you should know about soccer.

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Real Madrid at the Bernabéu

1) It’s called football

Our football, the one with the forward hand passing and the dog fights, is known as American football in the rest of the world. Soccer is football in the rest of the world. Which makes sense since a) football was football before American football was football and b) American football has more in common with rugby than football. Typically as Canadians we side with the rest of the world on things like invading Iraq, spelling colour and having a Parliment but for this we do what the Americans do. For the rest of this post, and in the future, we’ll be calling it football.

2) Forget the World Series, football is the true global game

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Barcelona’s Camp Nou

In Canada we get excited when our collection of NHL professionals beat the collection of NHL professionals assembled by the eight or so other nations that give a shit about hockey. I love hockey, but it’s really a northern European sport. Russia, the Finnswegians, America and Canada are about the only people who care about it. Football is still largely dominated by the top European clubs, but it’s played on all corners of the earth. The Europeans might sign the paychecks but increasingly players are coming from Africa [yt], Asia [yt] [yt] and other areas that hockey, baseball, basketball and American football have not touched.

It’s not a new thing either. The most famous pre-Beckham footballer is Brazil’s Pele [yt], though Maradona comes pretty close [yt].

Is there more after the jump? You bet there is, and you really want to see number 4.

3) Beckham’s not the greatest footballer ever

He’s a good player, but his skill does not match his level of fame. He’s far better than the rest of the LA Galaxy, players who would for the most part be journeymen in the European leagues and he was a central figure in the success of the Manchester United’s 90s’ success and fit in amoungst the superstars of Real Madrid. Still even in his prime he was not the best player around. Want five players better? Glad you asked.

– Thierry Henry [yt]
– Dennis Bergkamp [yt]
– Lionel Messi [yt]
– Cesc Fabregas [yt]
– Wayne Rooney [yt]

That’s not to say that Beckham’s not a great player whose made some great goals himself [yt] [yt].

4) The offside rule

Football’s offside rule can be a bit tricky to understand, which accounts for about 75% of British humour. Here’s a good explanation of it.

5) This is not Anfield (it’s BC Place)

Outside the Emirates Stadium

The Emirates Stadium, London

Going to a live football game in Europe or even South America is an experiance [yt] [yt]. Heck even the newly minted Toronto FC has developed a fan culture that goes beyond what you’d see at your common Canucks’ game [yt].

The Whitecaps have chants [ss], and if you really want to experiance the game I’d suggest either learning a few or at least printing yourself out a copy to take to the match.

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