Four thoughts after Germany’s 3-2 win over Turkey in the Euro 2008 semifinals:
• Sounds like a great game. Too bad we missed it on TV. I can’t tell you how shocking it is that in the year 2008 you can lose the global broadcast feed for nearly 25 minutes of a Euro 2008 semifinal—and miss two goals and the final whistle. An ESPN spokesman tells me that the entire global feed from Basel (and not just ESPN’s feed) was lost due to a lightning strike. Okay, but why couldn’t UEFA and its clockwork Swiss (update: and Austrian) organizers hook up a back-up system and generator? What sort of conniptions must viewers have been going through in Germany and Turkey?
If we couldn’t get a feed of the game because of the lightning strike, then why could we still get a feed from Switzerland of the Basel Fan Zone (where the weather didn’t appear bad at all)? Why were we forced to read the reactions of German Fan Zone supporters to discover that Germany had scored a goal and that the final whistle had blown? And for that matter, why couldn't they just turn that Fan Zone camera onto the screen those fans were watching so the rest of us could see it? UEFA is going to have to answer a lot of questions about this global fiasco—and I wouldn’t be surprised if ESPN and other rights-holders demand some of their money back. This is the 21st-Century version of the Heidi Game.
(6:15 p.m. ET Update: Information is still coming out, but the lightning strike took place in Austria, not Switzerland, and compromised the broadcast coming from the main Euro 2008 television center in Vienna. The ESPN spokesman told me that the network normally receives three feeds, and none of them was functioning. It appears that the Swiss broadcast, which continued functioning, was not being received by ESPN.)
(6:30 p.m. ET Update: For those of you who want to learn more about the NFL's classic Heidi Game, check this out. Insert your own joke about Heidi being Swiss.)
• The Turks won’t win Euro 2008, but I may remember them more than anything else. Let’s see: Turkey gave us three ridiculous comebacks and a classic slugfest (with its undermanned B-team) against a full-strength German side before finally falling to defeat. If I wasn’t already stunned when the Turks attacked from the start and went up 1-0, I was absolutely floored when Semih Sentürk scored (while we were blacked out) to make it 2-2 in the 86th minute. Bravo to this Turkish team, which showed more heart than any team in any sport that I’ve seen in a long time.
• Philipp Lahm doesn’t waste much time, does he? Just four minutes after being skinned by Sabri Sarioglu on Turkey’s equalizer, Lahm made amends by hitting a remarkable strike on the winning goal, beating Rüstü Reçber near-post from close range. Yes, Lahm caught a break when his mark (Kazim Kazim) fell down on an apparent non-contact injury, but he kept running and scored the game-winner with a finish that was all class.
• This is why you need to send media members on-site to cover big events. I’m sure ESPN saved some money by having its broadcasters stay in Connecticut rather than being on the scene in Basel. But when stuff like this happens it can bite you in the rear. I suspect that if Derek Rae and Andy Gray had been in the stadium we could have at least heard a continuous audio broadcast of the game. (Then again, who am I to talk? I’m writing this from a couch in Baltimore.)
Through-balls: This TV fiasco makes super-efficient Switzerland (update: and Austria!) seem like sort of a banana republic, doesn’t it? ... Speaking of faulty Swiss, that was an obvious penalty that Swiss referee Massimo Busacca missed when Sabri clocked Lahm in the box in the 51st minute ... If not for Lahm’s goal, I was ready to describe this game as a Semih-final ... One good thing about the Euro 2008 schedule: there’s no useless third-place game. One of these days it would be great if the World Cup dropped it too ... Kazim Kazim had some bad luck hitting the crossbar twice in the first half. But it also was more evidence to support the Anthem-Singing Theory; Kazim no doubt offended the Soccer Gods as the only Turkish player who didn’t sing his national anthem ... A day after I heaped praise on Andy Gray, the big Scot went and had a bad game. Why should he have admitted surprise when Derek Rae said Lukas Podolski had only scored one goal in the second half of the Bundesliga season? Shouldn’t Gray have known that already? ... One positive thing about the TV: I neglected to give a thumbs-up to studio host Rece Davis in my blog post about the TV production yesterday. Davis is a pro who clearly has done his soccer homework, gets the names right and has worked his tail off to learn the game. He gets it.
Do you think this is Germany’s tournament to win now? Should Joachim Löw make some changes for the final? And did any of you throw a brick through your TV during the blackout? (Any and all good stories are welcome below.) Come back tomorrow for the next Euro 2008 Blog post ...