Are you like me? Have you been following The 2008 European soccer finals since it commenced June 7th? If so, you might be feeling what I’ve been feeling since this afternoon.
Unlike The World Cup, where 32 nations compete for the most prestigious prize in this globally beloved sport, the Euro tournament only features 16. The teams are divided evenly into four groups. The two most successful squads in each one advance to the quarterfinals.
Right now, we’re in the final leg of the group stages. By Wednesday afternoon, we’ll know who’s officially out and who’s officially in. In the end, 8 teams will remain in contention.
That brings us to today. It was the final day of matches for Group A. Portugal had already earned a berth in the next round with two victories over the Czech Republic and Turkey. Switzerland had already been eliminated after being defeated by those same two teams.
Before this afternoon, it was possible to see every game live. Two teams would face off around Noon and another two would battle it out around 3.
However, that wasn’t the case today. Both the Portugal/Switzerland game and the Turkey/Czech Republic match started around 3. This presented a problem. Because TSN is simulcasting NBC’s coverage of the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament until after 10 p.m. tonight, they weren’t able to broadcast any of today’s Euro matches live. (June 18 UPDATE: The fourth round actually ended just after 9 p.m.) And because both games began at the same time, Rogers Sportsnet Ontario could only cover one.
The solution, however, seemed simple. Since Portugal is already in the quarters and Switzerland was already out, it was a meaningless game. Whatever happened wouldn’t change anything. But because both the Czechs and the Turks needed a win to continue playing in the competition, there was much more at stake.
So, what did the geniuses at Rogers Sportsnet Ontario decide to do about this dilemma? They aired the Portugal/Switzerland match-up! Considering the fact that Omni 1, AKA Channel 47 in Toronto, was also broadcasting that game, albeit with Portugese commentators instead of a Brit, it made no sense for Sportsnet to focus on the exact same game. It didn’t help that most of Portugal’s star players, like Ronaldo and Deco, didn’t play. Even more infuriating was the fact that Sportsnet viewers outside of Ontario did get to see the Czech Republic/Turkey encounter.
That’s not even the worst part. Because the Portugal/Switzerland game ended before the other one wrapped up, Sportsnet Ontario viewers got to see the last few minutes of the more important match-up. The British announcer covering that game went on and on about the quality of the match and how it was a classic encounter. When it was all over, we got the usual post-game highlight reel which indeed gave the impression of an entertaining game.
Now, for those who haven’t seen the Turkey/Czech Republic match, I won’t tell you the result. (Sportsnet re-airs the game at Midnight tonight.) What I will say is that Sportsnet blew it. It was inexcusable of them to not allow its Ontario viewership a chance to see live what will likely be called one of the best encounters of this year’s tournament. Some might go so far to claim it as one of the best in the history of Euro.
Shame on them for making this needless mistake. Let’s hope it never happens again.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, June 15, 2008