‘The better team’
There is something rotten in the state of football. ‘The Danes only made half a chance and they scored’, according to John Heitinga in the Guardian. ‘Denmark did not play very well… We’ve got the players, we’ve got the quality.” National coach Bert van Marwijk agreed as he claimed that the better team lost but deserved to win. The statistics prove them right. The Dutch had more possession and many, many chances. What is going on here? All UEFA are interested in is a punctual kick-off, sponsor interests and the size of player’s trousers. Meanwhile Holland have been the better team over and over again at every tournament and still have only one trophy to show for. Surely, this is not right!
The Dutch FA have issued a proposal for the next FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zürich that a football game should no longer be confined to ninety minutes, but just continue until the better team are ahead. They have the backing of at least Colombia, Hungary, Austria and several African nations. Dutch FA Chairman Michael van Praag believes this is the moment to take this longserving travesty in football by the horns. “It is not only at tournaments, that we are confronted with these wrongful results. Every week in the Eredivisie, there is a better team that ends up on the wrong side of the score. We can no longer put up with this. I mean, teams and coaches put a lot of effort in training and playing a beautiful game. They should be rewarded with the points. The emphasis on goals in this sport is so dominant. We can put a man on the moon, but are not able to let the better team win?”
When he was chairman of Ajax in the early nineties Van Praag presided over the biggest upset ever. Midtable Volendam came to the Olympic Stadium to play Ajax. Their coach Wim Rijsbergen parked the bus in front of goal, they scored and despite 45 open chances for the hometeam, Volendam left with a 0-1 win. Afterwards Rijsbergen was vilified during the press conference by angry hacks as he had spoiled their evening. To the Dutch, football is art, a show, not a sport. On the question if he ever felt sorry for losing the World Cup final in 1974, Johan Cruyff, who hardly reflects on his playing days, explained that the Dutch had been the better team during the whole tournament. No one remembers the Germans for winning the cup, he said. Everyone remembers the WC 74 as the launch of Total Football. Who cares for a title, he almost added.