FIFA 2013 is the best FIFA

I love video games, that is no surprise, and one of my favourite video game collections is FIFA by EA Sports. I have editions 2010 to 2013 and have had the same striker, same team, same features throughout all. The new FIFA 2013 is by far the best soccer game out there.

Now I don’t play online. I have in the past just to get the red shoes, but having some 14 year old call me a “noob-faggot” just doesn’t float my boat. So I can’t really comment on that aspect of the game. From what I have seen it looks impressive, but really I like playing solo and having a “career”.

Fifa 2013 picked up on where 2012 fell short. It was the little things. For example, in 2012 I couldn’t see my players value until the end of the season and then it would jump considerably. With 2013 I can see my value change as my performance dictates. It also allows your player/character to be loaned out. Something you couldn’t do in 2012. And your player can stall a trade, or refuse a trade, which makes the career aspect of the game more interesting.

Your player also gets lots of feed back from the coach, from your agent (something new), and from the press. In previous versions only specific leagues had team of the week. Now you can be man of the match, team of the week, player of the month, and player of the year. One thing I would like to see is your player get “interviewed” by the press. It would be fun to have a skilled, but mouthy player, like Maradona.

The game play is vastly improved as well, which is impressive because it was already pretty awesome. The little things like the first touch which allows you to control the ball, or the fact you can now receive the ball with your chest makes it feel more realistic. It is more unpredictable too which was an issue before, meaning you can’t just run the same patterns over and over. Your team mates are also more intelligent, timing runs better so obviously someone has worked on the AI of the game. One hiccup I have noticed, on the PS3 anyway, is that two defenders will sometimes pass the ball back and forth ten times or more until I make a run at them.

The load screens have been improved, where as before you could shoot at a goalie while waiting for the game to load, you can now run practice drills which is a nice touch. There are also more achievements, meaning your player improves more and you get more feedback which is also nice.

Your player can now be part of a national team to compete for the world cup. Which was something missing in 2012. In other versions you could play for your team for a trophy but it wasn’t the “World Cup”. I am still in the qualifying rounds at the moment but I suspect it will be awesome.

Plus this is the gayest FIFA EA has ever made!

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This is why I love Ronaldho

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FIFA bans head scarves

Photograph: Ali Jarekji/Reuters

This picture saddens me.  It saddens me because the fact that Iran actually has a women’s soccer team and they are not allowed to play with head scarves forcing them to choose between their religion and their passion.  FIFA banned the Iranian women’s national team from an Olympic qualifier because of their headwear citing that “Players and officials shall not display political, religious, commercial or personal messages or slogans in any language or form on their playing or team kits.”   FIFA also went further to state that it does not permit team kits that cover the ears or neck for safety reasons.

I watch a lot of soccer, and I can tell you that this is just ignorance and bigotry hidden behind bureaucracy.  Many European countries are having issues with the influx of Muslim immigrants and are creating laws to force individuals to adapt and conform to the European norm. FIFA is attempting to do the same thing.

First off to challenge the whole “religious” thing there are countless players who cross themselves when stepping onto the pitch, or kiss the cross they wear when they score or look up and thank God when they win a big match.  Try to separate religion and soccer is impossible because for many they are the same thing.

“Players and officials shall not display political, religious, commercial or personal messages”… Not display commercial messages? Really? Ever heard of Samsung, they sponsor Chelsea. AIG, Man-U. Emirate airlines, AC Milan and on and on.  I think FIFA broke it’s own rules when they start emblazoning jerseys with ads.

As for the safety issue, have you seen soccer hair?  Ronaldinho, one of the most talented and loved players of the game has a huge mop of hair. What is to prevent players from pulling it?  Why are there are no restrictions on hair length?  A scarf around the head is no more dangerous, especially if it is snug fitting like these ones are. In fact, the entire outfit had been re-designed to meet FIFA’s standards and had apparently been approved.

It is one thing to demand that someone’s religious beliefs not impede the ability to communicate or safety For example to be able to see the face of the person if they are enacting some official business like getting a drivers license or voting. There is a need to be able to confirm identity or conduct business unhindered, but in this case there is no hindrance to the Iran women’s team ability to communicate with the referees, officials, each other or the other team.  There is no reason other than bigotry to enact this ruling.

I am no fan of religion. I would like to see people put away their imaginary friends and silly superstitions, but that goes for all of them, not just the muslims.  When I see this team of women weeping because once again a bunch of men have told them they cannot do something because they’re girls it breaks my heart. You have a bunch of men in FIFA arguing with a bunch of men in the Iranian government over what a group of women should or should not be allowed to wear.  What the fuck is wrong with this picture?

If ever there was a country, if ever there was a time when women needed to be allowed to play this is it. Here’s hoping that the various men’s soccer teams around the world can show their support.  If not for the love of God, then for the love of the game.

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How to fix Soccer

Soccer is a broken sport.

It’s a bold statement but all one has to do is watch a World Cup match to see where the game falls short – reffing.  In their defense being a soccer ref has to be one of the most thankless and high stress jobs in the world so I am not bashing on them for that. For example, Carlos Fajardo was a semi-pro ref who was murdered in Columbia. Or Dan Etolle who was killed by a mob after the home team conceded a second goal.

The issue with soccer is that it is a relatively simple game.  It only has 17 rules.  With only 17 rules it leaves an awful lot up to interpretation.  For example the yellow card for a fart.  No, I am not kidding.

Here are some suggestions however on how to fix the game.

Cards

First, introduce an orange card.  Caution – yellow, Warning – Orange, you’re out – red.

The difference between a yellow and a red are too extreme.  If you score a goal and pull your shirt over your head in celebration and run around waving it in the air, you get a yellow card.  If you do it twice you get a red, are kicked out of the game and your team has to play with 10 men and you miss the next game as well.

In comparison if I run up and punch you in the face while playing I get the same red card and penalties.  It seems to me that the disparity between the two offenses taking a shirt of and punching someone in the face  should warrant different penalties.

Orange cards could also be for un-intentional offenses like hand-balls or accidental touches like this one from the South Africa/ Uruguay game.

The orange could still be, “you’re off”, but without the extra game penalty attached.

Referees

Get at least one other referee.  A hockey game has 4 refs.  2 referees and two linesmen and it is a quarter the size of a soccer pitch.  Granted hockey is a much faster game than soccer, there should be a referee to watch what goes on behind the scenes.

If there had been another ref they would have cautioned Materazzi to stop pinching, touching and verbally abusing Zidane.  Some (namely the Italians) will argue that that is just a part of professional sports.  But what happened to sportsmanship?  Do we really want our kids behaving like this?  The third suggestion can help deal with this.

Instant Replay

An instant replay in American football can take place in the event of a close or otherwise controversial call, either at the request of a team’s head coach (with limitations) or the officials themselves.  There are rules about what types of plays can be instant replayed but it would be pretty easy to figure out for soccer.  You could instant replay anything suspicious in the penalty area and anything that could result in a card.

With instant replay incidents like the Thierry Henry handball to get France into the world cup and Ireland out would not happen.

It would also have the added benefit of encouraging players to be more honest. Henry knew he handed the ball but lacked the moral courage to say so. Imagine how much more respect people would have for the game if he had walked up to the ref and said, “Sorry but I accidentally touched the ball with my hand.”

With instant replay refs could have gone back and looked at Materazzi’s behavior before the headbutt and ruled it a yellow as opposed to red.  (Zidane was responding to being repeatedly assaulted).

Instant replay could also put an end once and for all to all the fake injuries and flopping around that some teams (Italy) are famous for.  Take this latest example from this year’s world cup.

Soccer needs to change if it is expecting to increase in popularity otherwise it is as subjective and fraught with miscalls as figure skating or gymnastics.

Neither of which could ever be called “the beautiful game.”

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