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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

Football fans do not know as much about the beautiful game as they may think, according to a new survey.

There is, it would seem, a general lack of understanding when it comes to the offside rule and that's before they've had a drink.

New research from http://www.sport.telegraph.co.uk finds three-quarters of men cannot recognise when a player is offside despite feigning knowledge of the rule (70 per cent) and claiming that an understanding of it is proof of real football fandom (22 per cent).

Women fare much worse, with eight out of ten ignorant of the rule.

It' is, however, the fifty two percent of men who believe that a player is offside when defending their team's goal line from an attacking player who need to hang their heads in shame (compared to 38 per cent of women), along with those (five percent) who think that a footballer who carries the ball into their opponent's half before kicking it off the pitch will be given offside (compared to fourteen per cent of women).

Moreover, men's views on women and football are just as conflicting. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) are irritated by girls who talk football, while others (15 per cent) find it a real turn on and almost a fifth (17 per cent) admit they would spend more time with their partners if they had a better knowledge of the sport.

The finer details of the game may not be the only dispute to arise during The World Cup as the sport.telegraph.co.uk findings reveal half the population - 65 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women - intend on rolling out of bed to catch the early morning kick-offs.

It doesn't look as though they interviewed anyone in Ibiza, though, because there's no mention of anyone watching the footie as they stagger back to their hotel after dancing all night.

Reasons for watching the World Cup, without Roy Keane, the petulant Ireland and Man United stalwart, are not purely patriotic. Whilst he has discovered that you can't change a lightbulb by holding it in the air and waiting for the world to revolve around him, seven in ten English viewers plan to support Beckham and England. But a quarter claim they will watch the matches to avoid social exclusion, one in ten believes it will give them an excuse to be late for work and offers them the ideal opportunity to meet potential partners. What, in the pub at 7.30am?

Four in ten (37 per cent) football-phobic females will adopt a "if you can't beat them join them" approach to the tournament, tuning in to avoid becoming football widows.

Kim Fletcher, Editorial Director, Telegraph.co.uk, said: "Britain is a nation whose love of football is renowned throughout the world, so it seems bizarre that most fans don't have a clue how one of the sport's fundamental rules works

"I, of course, as a veteran centre half with 30 years of parks' football behind me, know it inside out. With the World Cup fast approaching and football fever reaching an all time high, it looks like a lot of us need to gen- up if we want to know what we're talking about."

I, of course, will restrain myself from slurping Boddington's bitter at dawn and anyway my money's on Brazil.

To mark the forthcoming World Cup, The Daily Telegraph and sport.telegraph.co.uk have launched the Telegraph Fantasy Football World Cup, a fantasy-based football game with a £50,000 first prize. For further information, visit http://www.worldcup.telegraph.co.uk

Sinclair Newton