Unwritten laws of football

  • Sumo

To assist in following the World Cup Finals, now consuming South Africa:

  1. World Cup finals will debut a new and controversial ball.
  2. Each finals game is to be accompanied by swarms of tuneless plastic trumpets.
  3. Commentators, if English-speaking, must mention Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ goal from last century.
  4. The hosts of World Cup finals will play better than their world ranking will suggest.
  5. The favourite team of the finals will have an attacking focus, the winning team will have a defensive formation. (This law enacted in the mid-1970s.)
  6. Football being a professional sport, a number of experts will tally the worth (so-called) of teams such as Argentina, Spain and Italy. No one will bother to do this for Australia.
  7. There will be at least one tear-filled red-card/yellow-card tragedy: a player booked will recognise that he is thereby ineligible for the next match.
  8. England will dream of 1966, but experience the same tabloid headlines as usual (‘Shame’, ‘Cup empty again’, ‘England expects … heads to roll’, etc).
  9. Semi-finals will produce better football than the final.
  10. Though players will constantly claim a throw-in or corner kick when not warranted, they will still fume in outrage when an important decision goes against them. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s a failure of refereeing.
  11. Lasting images will be of exquisite skill and of the beautiful game showing off its best moments.