Well the first day of World Cup 2014 in Brazil is into the record books and we already have the first example of why North Americans have a bit of trouble with the beautiful game at this level. I specify at this level because there is no doubt that the number of kids playing soccer has grown rapidly, but when it comes to a spectator sport, we have some catching-up to do.
In yesterday’s opening match, the host Brazil played Croatia. The first goal of the game, and tournament, was credited to Croatia even though it went in off of a Brazilian player. Well, maybe not. The North American game that bears the closest resemblance to soccer is hockey. Sometimes in an effort to keep the puck out of his/her net, a hockey player inadvertently knocks the puck in over the goal line. Oops! With head hung the player expresses his/her anger and frustration, perhaps by breaking a stick, or maybe they are more philosophical and understand that bad bounces are all part of the game. On the score card the goal is credited to the last player on the opposing team to touch the puck. It certainly is not “awarded” to the player who put it into his own net, not even as an own goal.
Yesterday’s inaugural goal was credited to Marcelo as an own goal. As if he actually tried to put it into his own net. I think we can safely assume that, short of a very ill-conceived and poorly executed game-rigging plot, no player would intentionally score on his own team. FIFA should follow the NHL’s lead and give credit for own goals to the last player on the other team to touch the ball.