15 Jun 2010


Americans are mostly rubbish at watching football or 'soccer' as it isn't called. They try, bless them, they really do. They put it on the television, just like the rest of us. They watch it down the pub with a beer, just like the rest of us. They say things like ‘yeah’ and ‘woo’ – sometimes at the right time – just like we all do. If you were watching from inside a deaf man’s head, you could honestly believe they were actual football fans from anywhere in the world. They’re not though, and owning sound converting ear things inside a bar in New York has proved this to me in an oversimplified and prejudiced way. I’ve heard them consistently not get it. ‘Come on!’ they shout angrily at perfectly normal tackles. ‘Are you frickin’ kidding me?!’ every time they misunderstand the offside rule. ‘Good kicking!’ nobody shouted at any point.

So, what’s the problem? I think there’s too much subtlety and not enough points for a nation weened on high-scoring, action-packed sports like basketball, ice hockey and American rugby (also known as 'football' to the natives.) I basically haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about when it comes to football. I have two generic conversations I can fall back in the pub if someone confronts me with an opinion. One's about how 'it's all, like, just a business, man' and the other starts something like 'I just can't understand why they haven't bought in video technology yet.' However, even I’ve played and enjoyed enough football in my life to appreciate the very basics of the game. Sit me in a pub with ‘blokes’, and I can shout things like ‘triangles!,’ ‘jog on! and ‘line him!’ almost convincingly. Put one of my made-up, stereotypical Americans in the same situation and it will be half an hour before they realise that the game has started.

This is why me and my friends have came up with a new set of rules to spice up the game for our transatlantic neighbours. Thanks, then, to Lucy, Alex, Andy, Aaron and Isaac, who may or may not have been drinking at the time, but definitely, definitely were.

New Rules Football:
  1. All balls must go in the goal.
  2. There will be one thousand footballs.
  3. Balls can only be moved by tongue.
  4. Goals can only be scored on horseback or whilst playing a mandolin.
  5. Managers must be singing at all times.
  6. Drinks may not be imbibed after the 35th minute.
  7. No draws.
  8. Goal keepers must wear ties.
  9. The goal is indicated not by a geometric arrangement of posts, but by an elephant.
  10. Every time a player scores, they must be replaced by a fan.
  11. In extra time, the ball(s) will be replaced with a chair. The game is basically the same, except now instead of scoring goals the teams compete to all be standing on the chair.
  12. Similarly, if footchair goes to penalties, the ball is replaced with a slippery pig. The winners must eat the pig.
  13. An Amazonian tribesmen (who has never seen shoes) is chosen to draw the lines on the pitch and choose the chair. After, he is killed.
  14. Fans have as many water balloons as they can fit in to their hats.
  15. No hats.
  16. Ronaldo must be waist-deep in the elephant at all times.
  17. Buckets are to be used instead of shoes.
  18. In order to encourage integration, leagues are organised not by country or region, but by first name, e.g. The Norman League.
  19. Finals are sponsored by Mr Kipling.
  20. Players must be wearing eye-patches. If the player fouls and gets a non colour-discriminatory circle card, the eye-patch must be replaced with glued-on binoculars.
  21. There is no referee, ever, unless someone successfully convinces everyone there is.
  22. Action replays are sepia-toned and projected on to the elephant.
  23. Minimum game time: 2 hours. Maximum game time: the life expectancy of an elephant.
  24. No players are allowed to advertise pants.
  25. Players may, however, advertise Boris Johnson as a non-political human.
  26. All team chants are ‘Magic’ by Pilot.
  27. If the ball goes off the pitch, the nearest player must set him or herself on fire.
  28. Should a player fall over, they may add a rule that lasts until the end of the game.
  29. Games end when Lucy laughs hysterically and runs out of breath.
  30. Rick Astley must attend every game and serve drinks until the 35th minute. Strictly no talking.
  31. Players must take brain supplements.
  32. Every team must have a player over the age of 80.
  33. There are no rules.
I think it would take a while to transition between the current ‘old rules’ and our more logical new ones, but the result would be a world where Americans could not only join in with the fun of football but hopefully learn to understand even the simplest rules of the game a little better.

Pictured: Too complicated.