|This article or section may contain previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. (September 2010)|
"Anti-football" is a lethargic passing style of football that relies only on passing and an extremely defensive, aggressive physical, robust style of play of football where one team deploys their whole team, except the striker, behind the ball. In doing so, they try their best to stop the opposition from scoring, rather than trying to win the game themselves. It is also used to criticize the playing style of teams who have no intention to play properly and prevent the game from moving on with actions such as (but not limited to): shooting the ball forward without trying to reach any players, intentionally diving and stopping the play during several minutes or shooting the ball away when a free-kick is awarded, to win time (usually penalized with a yellow card if too flagrant).
History and usage
The phrase has been in use in English since at least 2001, where Gary Armstrong and Richard Giulianotti used the phrase in their book Fear and Loathing in World Football to describe the tactics of Argentine team Estudiantes de La Plata in the 1968 Copa Intercontinental, citing usage of the phrase in a 1968 editorial in the Argentine sports magazine El Gráfico.
The phrase was used by Johan Cruyff in 2002 to criticise the tactics that helped Brazil to win the World Cup, stating: "Brazil deserved their win but they aren't a team; they play anti-football and only took advantage of the mistakes of their opponents."
In November 2006, Arsenal's Cesc Fàbregas characterized style of play in the English Premier League as anti-football, in the week following a 1-0 defeat to West Ham United, stating: "Teams just defend, defend, and defend; they try to waste time. I call it 'anti-football,' but we have to accept this happens and break teams down."
In 2010, Johan Cruyff again used the phrase 'anti-football' but on this occasion applying it to the style of play used by his own country's national team, the Netherlands, in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final against Spain. The day after the final Cruyff attacked the Dutch team for renouncing the Netherlands' long standing commitment to playing attacking and entertaining football: "They [the Netherlands] didn't want the ball. And regrettably, sadly, they played very dirty. So much so that they should have been down to nine immediately, then they made two [such] ugly and hard tackles that even I felt the damage. This ugly, vulgar, hard, hermetic, hardly eye-catching, hardly football style, yes it served the Dutch to unsettle Spain. If with this they got satisfaction, fine, but they ended up losing. They were playing anti-football." Other commentators had already described the Dutch style of play during the tournament and particularly the final as anti-football prior to Cruyff's comments.
After being defeated 2-0, Vietnam coach Henrique Calisto used the phrase 'anti-football' referring to the tactic used against his team by surprise winner Philippines at the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup group stage in Vietnam.
- Gary Armstrong & Richard Giulianotti (2001). Fear and Loathing in World Football. p. 242. ISBN 978-1859734636.
- "Cruyff slams World Cup, accuses Brazil of wrecking football". Daily Times. 2002-07-02.
- David Sheppard (2006-11-10). "Fabregas slates the 'anti-football' of Premiership rivals". Soccernet.
- Press Association (2010-07-12). "World Cup final: Johan Cruyff hits out at 'anti-football' Holland". Guardian Unlimited.
- "Historic victory leaves McMenemy bewildered". AFF Suzuki Cup 2010. 2010-12-06.