Villaflor: Google Football

A FEW years ago, I wrote about following a crucial Azkals match via Twitter in the absence of a live feed. The tweets came from those who watched the game live at a stadium overseas. For more than 90 minutes, even my Facebook feed would be filled with posts based on these tweets.

Back then, I shouldn’t have complained. Older generations had no choice but to follow sports matches via radio, then wait for tomorrow’s papers for in-depth analyses. In the Philippines, live feeds on analog television were rare, as delayed telecasts were the norm.

I find it ironic now that in the age of digital media awash with social media platforms, certain live feeds of matches that are dear to us sports fans remain hard to come by. No thanks to broadcast rights that come with hefty price tags. So even if you have cable but don’t have access to a licensed sports channel, you’d still end up scouring the internet for livestreams, if not Facebook for live feeds.

This exactly was what happened last March 6 when I looked up the AFC Cup Group stage match between Ceres-Negros and dangerous Shan United at home in Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City. Thanks to the guy who diligently took a vid of the entire match with his phone and broadcasted it live on Facebook, I got to see how the match progressed. He would zoom in during crucial build ups, but when a goal is imminent near the danger zones, the screen would suddenly shake erratically, and all that one is left to see are blurred images jerking up and down. By then, you’d know that a goal has been scored and the spectator taking the vid is celebrating like mad with the crowd. I couldn’t complain, of course, especially since Ceres won that match. I’d just like to add, though, that unlike TV broadcasts, FB live feeds have no replays.

As for Global Cebu’s home game against Yangon United last Tuesday, I simply couldn’t find a live feed or livestream anywhere. I’m also not sure if FoxSports beamed it live on cable, as it didn’t occur to me to check. My FB feed was eerily quiet as well.

Instead, updates of the live match came as Google alerts on my smartphone: when a team scores, a football icon would pop up on the upper left corner of the screen, and when I click on it, it would show the team scores and running time. That’s it.

And yet for all that minimalism, the Google icon updates were nerve-wracking nevertheless. When it showed that Daryl Roberts had scored late in the game on the 79th minute, it was reassuring to know that finally Global would snatch its first win after four games in Group G and keeps its hopes alive of advancing to the next round.

That sense of relief was shortlived, though, as moments later, Yangon would equalize on the 90th minute, and I, staring at the update flashing on a near empty screen, was left wondering how a vital lead had been squandered at the worst time possible.

Since Google -- and only Google -- was updating the match in real time, there was no choice but to watch the digital clock tick endlessly: 91+, then 92+, then 93+, 94+, 95+, then boom! The screen flashes: Global takes the lead 2-1. Rufo Sanchez’s name appears as goalscorer (off a penalty I’d learn later). The match ends on the 96th minute, officially. Six minutes of added time, but who am I to complain? For now, there’s a renewed sense of optimism in the Global camp, and that’s all that matters. For now.
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