Looney for Soccer
To me, soccer has always been a tough sport to grasp. The foot-to-ball thing was fine but it was the surrounding atmosphere that never clicked. Match times that go over, odd penalties, strange antics and those flippy little refs that whip out index cards whenever they get tweaked. Just odd. And don’t get me started on the hooliganism thing. The need to beat the living tar out of opposing fans, each other and whatever inanimate object happens to be nearby is twisted. Even Bill Buford’s book Among the Thugs cast little light (at least for me) on these idiots and their actions. What in God’s name is worth rioting about in soccer?
Now I know I’m a simple North American git that will never have a full appreciation for “The Beautiful Game” but I have honestly tried. And that’s saying something when I considered no single human experience could more dreadfully boring than watching soccer. And that’s even including televised backgammon and the time I was paid to watch a pile of sandbags for ten hours straight (no, I’m not kidding).
Anyway, my “football” illiteracy dimmed somewhat when my kids took up the game and forced me to watch from the sidelines. Doing this I gained a modicum of understanding as to what was happening, allowing for some of the quirks of the sport to become intriguing. Still, I doubt it could ever matter enough that I could be drawn into throwing a stop sign through a plate glass window.
Konami, the video game maker, has a soccer game called Pro Evolution Soccer 2012. It is the latest update to a fairly famous version they peddle, now in its eleventh incarnation. To support the rollout Konami contracted an LA ad firm to come up with a commercial personality they felt might best define the game for those targeted. Enter one Robert Roberto Roberto, famous referee (and once again, no, I’m not kidding).
Robert Roberto Roberto is supposedly a world famous soccer referee contracted by PES 2012 to be its “ruling authority.” Apparently he needed the work because the commercials showcase a seriously odd duck that lives in a humble home, dresses like he’s on his way to a soccer match and runs around his town handing out yellow or red cards to those he deems deserving. Traffic offenders (red card), bad tippers (yellow), gaming the “ten items or less” line at the grocery store (yellow) and so on. Why does Konami think a delusional loser is a good choice for their video game’s mascot?
I guess it makes sense that he’s nuts - the soccer time clock goes on until the end but can then be lengthened “at the refs discretion.” God-complex anyone? The field is so large he has no way of actually calling anything clearly (which is why soccer players are notorious floppers). And that ridiculous notion of holding up a card to announce a penalty? Take that, rule-flouter – here’s a CARD. Why they can’t simply use hand signals like, say EVERY OTHER SPORTS LEAGUE on the planet escapes me but why even deal with the logistics of needing a card. Are they laminate? Do they get wrinkled? What shade of red or yellow is appropriate? Can they be counterfeited? I’m just saying.....
No, I‘ve now watched ad after ad featuring Robert Roberto Roberto and more than anything it has absolutely convinced me of the sheer lunacy inherent in the game of soccer itself. Refs and umpires have a tough go in most sports but only soccer seems to serve them up as looney knobs on a platter.
I know it’s supposed to be humorous but disturbing is what comes through to me. In fact, taking the backstory as created in the ad even soccer itself has had enough of Robert Roberto Roberto. If not, why is he unemployed? Leave it to Konami to re-hire the twit and provide a platform for his insanity to grow. Didn’t anyone ever tell them that making fun of those sliding off their rocker is bad form?
Maybe what I should be taking away from this series of ads is that the real heart of soccer (football) is that, like our world, it is a grand game played by many men on huge fields representing proud countrymen – and that referees, like the United Nations itself, pretends to control it all by running around making up rules and waving cards in the air. It’s no bloody wonder the hooligans riot and break stuff. With that kind of set up I sure as heck would too. Occupy Wembley!