During an international break, it’s an unusual experience watching Euro 2008 qualifiers in the United States. The most talked about match, England against Israel, isn’t even on U.S. television (it’s only available via pay-per-view, so you have a choice between paying $30 to watch it at home, or pay $20 at the pub).
So, if you instead choose to watch Fox Soccer Channel on Saturday, you get to see three live matches which are ‘B’ matches that will be very predictable and won’t create much excitement:
- Russia v Macedonia, 11am ET
- San Marino v Czech Republic, 2pm ET
- Iceland v Spain, 4pm ET
Setanta Sports, meanwhile, will be showing ‘B’ matches also such as:
- Malta v Turkey, 4:30pm ET
- Serbia v Finland, 6:30pm ET
The only exception from Setanta is the ‘A’ match between Sweden and Denmark at 2:30pm ET.
More interesting matches are available via pay-per-view (whether it’s at home or at your local pub). Those matches include:
- Slovakia v Ireland, 2:30pm ET
- Portugal v Poland, 4pm ET
The best pick of the Euro 2008 qualifiers is GolTV’s 2:40pm ET showing of Italy versus France from the San Siro in Milan. This one match has more appeal than all of the above matches put together in a must-win match for Italy to give them a decent chance of qualifying for Euro 2008 next summer.
It’s a shame that some other good Euro 2008 matches being played this weekend aren’t available via TV or closed-circuit TV or pay-per-view. These include Holland v Bulgaria, Scotland against Lithuania and Wales versus Germany.
To me, the United States has the coverage of the Premier League mastered with Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports dividing the best matches and providing an exceptional viewing experience (in quality and quantity). When it comes to international matches, Setanta Sports switches its allegiance from paying customers to pubs across the nation. As a result, the people at home are forced to go to the pub if they want to watch a match.
Sure, international matches is a selling point for Setanta to provide these closed-circuit TV (CCTV) packages to pubs, but the quality of football on display — for the most part — doesn’t justify the expense (for the pub owner or person paying $20). For me, the Champions League is far more entertaining than international football, but I do hope that the matches this weekend prove me wrong.
It’s time for soccer international matches via closed-circuit TV to die a quick death. In modern times like now where so much football coverage available via broadband, it’s crazy to force soccer fans to pay $20 to watch at a pub. If pubs want to bring fans into their establishments to watch matches, the pubs need to do more to win the punters hard-earned money. Offer free admission with the purchase of a pint. Create a soccer experience that fans where fans will want to leave their couches and drive to their nearest pub. Is that too hard to ask?