Soccer 2.0


Photo: The Offside

In Soccer 1.0 the manager is king. But an Israeli football team is experimenting with a sort of crowd-sourcing, wisdom-of-the-Kop type approach, where fans monitor the game online and suggest starting line-up, tactics and substitutions.

Reuters reports from Tel Aviv that “diehard football fan Moshe Hogeg was so upset when star striker Lionel Messi was left off Argentina’s side for a World Cup match against Germany last year that he teamed up with an online gaming company to buy a club where fans decide over the Internet who will play and in what position.” Hogeg’s company, an Israeli social network for sports fans called Web2sport, teamed up with online backgammon website Play65 to buy Hapoel Kiryat Shalom, a team in Israel’s third amateur division.

Fans log on to the team’s website and make suggestions and vote in poll which are monitored by an assistant to the coach. Ahead of the season’s opening match some 6,000 people tried to log on to make suggestions. The team lost 3-2 to Maccabi Ironi Or Yehuda in injury time.

Needless to say, I have mixed feelings about this. I don’t think crowd-sourcing is going to replace the genius of Wenger, Mourinho or Ferguson. On the other hand, as a Spurs fan, I certainly think manager Martin Jol could do with some help.

Press Release: The First Web 2.0 Football Club in the World

Reclining Seats And Passenger Negotiation Management

Forgive me for any typos and errors for this posting. I’m typing this on a screen that is almost vertical so I can barely see it. it’s coach class on Philippines Airlines and of course I’m wedged behind the only person on the plane who seems to have spent the entire flight with her seat reclined. It’s ugly. I don’t have a tape measure but I estimate there’s about 12” of space between my armrest and her head. Fantasies of removing said armrest and whacking said head with it have not gone unnursed. But it also gave me to thinking that airlines could perhaps harness their inflight technology to make this part of coach-class travel a bit more bearable: inflight interpassenger communication and negotiation facilities.

It would work something like this. The armrest console and onboard inflight entertainment screen would allow users to send messages to people in contiguous seats, effectively negotiating with them over issues such as seat reclination, bathroom or exercise breaks, cross-seat food-tray handling etc. If nothing else, this could be a courtesy: The woman in front, for example, could inform me she was intending to take a nap in 15 minutes and give me time to plan my computer time more effectively. I could then signal to the people sitting between me and the gangway that at 6.07 PM local time I would like to go to the restroom, allowing them to plan their video watching, or whatever they happen to be doing. They could counter with a proposal that I delay said visit until 6.24 PM local time, to coincide with their beer foray, so we could all leave our seats at the same time. All this information could be accessed  by the gantry allowing them to plan their own activities. The whole aircraft could spend the first 30 minutes in the air — before the palliative beverages arrive — negotiating with their fellow passengers and giving each other a bit of warning before they do something drastic. If nothing else it would relieve that post-takeoff, pre-inflight drink ennui.

I have no idea whether this might work, but it certainly makes me feel a bit better about this woman in front, who is now doing that really annoying thing of keeping her seat reclined while at the same time sitting up straight and gazing vapidly around the cabin. She’s probably wondering whether to climb across her fellow passengers to go to the bathroom. Roll on, Inflight Entertainment And Passenger Planning.

One Kid, A Tsunami, Nineteen Days At Sea, And A Soccer Match

This is nothing to do with technology, but it’s such a wonderful story I have to share it. Here’s how AP reported it:

Portugal welcomes a special fan: Indonesian tsunami survivor

LISBON, Portugal (AP): When Portugal walks onto the field Saturday to play Slovakia in a World Cup qualifying match, its captain will be holding the hand of a special guest – an 8-year- old Indonesian boy who survived alone for 19 days after the December tsunami.

Martunis, whose second name was not provided, was found on a beach in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, wearing a Portugal soccer shirt – prompting Portuguese soccer officials to invite him to Lisbon. Martunis survived by drinking puddle water and eating dried noodles after his parents were swept away by the tsunami. He was later reunited with his father and grandfather at a hospital.

Martunis, who names Manchester United’s Portuguese winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, as his favorite player, met with local schoolchildren Wednesday. Portugal’s Brazilian coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, bought Martunis and family a house in Indonesia last year on behalf of the team.

Now, the Portugal soccer federation is giving them euro40,000 (US$49,000) . Martunis will hold the Portugal captain’s hand – likely to be Luis Figo if selected – when the two teams enter the 65,000-seat Stadium of Light arena for the Group 3 match.

He’s an amazing little kid. My friend Tessa related recently how

I had the pleasure of meeting the young lad at the recent launching of a book that [Radio] 68H has published – Lolos dari Maut Tsunami – containing his and other stories from people who survived the tsunami.

68H invited Martunis and his father (his mother and two sisters died in the tsunami) to Jakarta for the book launch. Like every other seven year old boy I have ever met, after about five minutes he was predictably fidgeting in his chair and looking around for better entertainment, all the while sporting his favourite shirt, a Portuguese number 10 football shirt, that of his hero, Rui Costa, the same shirt he was wearing when he was swept away.

If anyone’s interested, I have an English translation of his story from the book. It makes for an extraordinary read, even for those of us who have heard every kind of tsunami escape story.

Footnote: Here’s a picture of him. I haven’t cropped it cos I love the expensive sofa he’s sitting on:


(Thanks Tessa)