- Blame it on the players: They are over-paid, under-achieving prima donnas who are too reliant on so-called superstars  who fail to deliver the goods under pressure, due to a lack of teamwork  and excess of testosterone . They didn’t score that crucial first goal  and were never likely to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
- Blame it on the boss: The manager/coach can’t motivate the players and is useless at managing people. All teams are dysfunctional  but the manager is the main reason that the players didn’t function as a successful team. Sack the manager now!
- Blame it on the ball: The Jabulani ball is too unpredictable for players to pass/score with and keepers to save. The complicated aerodynamics  of the ball are the reason our team crashed out early.
- Blame it on the fans: There were too many / not enough fans who didn’t support their team – instead they made a dreadful noise with those deafening vuvuzelas . How can the players concentrate with that terrible cacophony?
- Blame it on the women: The absence/presence of Wives and Girlfriends (WaGs) from the training camp was detrimental to player performance . Has anyone done any controlled experiments on this?!
- Blame it on the funding: Our nation spends too much / not enough money on grassroots / club / national football .
- Blame it on the referee: The referee and the linesmen are visually-impaired, incompetent, stupid, biassed , recipients of large bribes and enjoy frequent self-abuse etc .
- Blame it on geography: The altitude,  latitude, longitude and climate were to blame – these adverse conditions ultimately impaired athletic performance on the field.
- Blame it on psychology: It’s only a game isn’t it? What is all the fuss about ? We expected too much of our players, they are after all, only human and fallible. Our national ego was massively over-inflated  and just waiting for the inevitable deflation.
- Blame it on FIFA: The Fédération Internationale de Football Association has allegedly been corrupted by the power and wealth they have accumulated . How can they continue to ignore demands for goal-line technology  and other video enhancements that would clearly improve the game?
So which teams have offered the best excuses for losing so far? Italy, France, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina and England are currently leading the table and (at the time of writing) will soon be joined by all but one of Germany, Spain and The Netherlands. All of this just goes to prove the Jimmy Cliff hypothesis, that the harder they come, the harder they fall (one and all) and makes for most of the entertainment at the competition.
If you can provide any of the citations needed for the above, please leave a comment below with the details. But wherever you are from, whoever you support, enjoy what is left of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – no excuses.
[update: A spanish translation of this post is available at Las diez excusas via perogrullo.com]
- Travis, K. (2010). Scoring a Career in Sports Science Science DOI: 10.1126/science.caredit.a1000067
- Lucifora, C., & Simmons, R. (2003). Superstar Effects in Sport: Evidence From Italian Soccer Journal Of Sports Economics, 4 (1), 35-55 DOI: 10.1177/1527002502239657
- Duch, J., Waitzman, J., & Amaral, L. (2010). Quantifying the Performance of Individual Players in a Team Activity PLoS ONE, 5 (6) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010937
- Zak, P., Kurzban, R., Ahmadi, S., Swerdloff, R., Park, J., Efremidze, L., Redwine, K., Morgan, K., & Matzner, W. (2009). Testosterone Administration Decreases Generosity in the Ultimatum Game PLoS ONE, 4 (12) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008330
- Elmar Bittner, Andreas Nussbaumer, Wolfhard Janke, & Martin Weigel (2006). Football fever: goal distributions and non-Gaussian statistics Eur. Phys. J. B 67, 459 (2009). arXiv: physics/0606016v1
- Lencioni, P. (2002). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series) (1 ed.). Jossey-Bass.
- Goff, J., & Carré, M. (2010). Soccer ball lift coefficients via trajectory analysis European Journal of Physics, 31 (4), 775-784 DOI: 10.1088/0143-0807/31/4/007
- Swanepoel de W, & Hall JW 3rd (2010). Football match spectator sound exposure and effect on hearing: a pretest-post-test study. South African medical journal = Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir geneeskunde, 100 (4), 239-42 PMID: 20459971
- Kranjec, A., Lehet, M., Bromberger, B., & Chatterjee, A. (2010). A Sinister Bias for Calling Fouls in Soccer PLoS ONE, 5 (7) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011667
- Bärtsch P, Saltin B, Dvorak J, & Federation Internationale de Football Association (2008). Consensus statement on playing football at different altitude. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 18 Suppl 1, 96-9 PMID: 18665957
- Schmied C, & Dvorak J (2010). Football is the most important unimportant thing in the world. European Heart Journal, 31 (12), 1425-7 PMID: 20556872
- Abell, J. (2010). ‘They seem to think “We’re better than you”’: Framing football support as a matter of ‘national identity’ in Scotland and England British Journal of Social Psychology DOI: 10.1348/014466610X514200
- Wayne C. Naidoo, & Jules R. Tapamo (2006). Soccer video analysis by ball, player and referee tracking SAICSIT ’06: Proceedings of the 2006 annual research conference of the South African institute of computer scientists and information technologists on IT research in developing countries DOI: 10.1145/1216262.1216268
[Creative Commons licensed picture of Earth from the fantastic NASA Goddard Photo and Video collection on flickr]