FIFA and Refereeing

23:57 Mon 28 Jun 2010
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Since I last mentioned the World Cup, a mere three days ago, there have been a further two major officiating controversies, each altering significantly the matches they occurred in.

The first was the disallowed England goal that would have tied them at two with Germany. Yes, I was rooting against Germany, and yes, Germany dominated the match, but a goal’s a goal—and that was a goal. The second was Argentina’s first goal against Mexico, which involved a clearly offside Argentinian player.

Both decisions shared the quality of being demonstrably wrong—replays immediately showed this. In the Mexico case, the replay was shown in the stadium, and the players saw this and attempted to get the referee to acknowledge it, to no avail.

This is the round of 16 at the World Cup. This is the highest level of soccer there is. Yet the refereeing has been a series of horrendous, costly, mistakes. Worse, FIFA seem not to care. They run things as they always have, declare that they’re satisfied with things, that everything is fine, and that video technology would destroy the game.

In fact, their only real response has been to state that they will forbid stadium replays, as if the real problem were that players might have evidence regarding what actually happened. I strongly suspect that if FIFA could somehow prevent any replays of controversial decisions from appearing anywhere, they would.

I have loved World Cups in the past, and I was eager to get into this one despite Ireland’s having been cheated out of a spot. But it’s as if FIFA adopted it as a template for close games. As a spectator, it’s maddening to be drawn into a match only to have that match ruined by a bad call—especially an obvious bad call. Fans hate the situation, and anger combined with incredulity rises with each successive debacle. FIFA, though, are offering no hope at all that anything will be done. They clearly feel that they can do as they please, and short of an unprecedented revolt by national associations, they appear to be right.

3 Responses to “FIFA and Refereeing”

  1. Kevin Teljeur Says:

    As with many of these things, it comes down to not even organisations, but individuals; in this case, Sepp Blatter, who has been challenged on this but refuses to budge. I believe that a big reason for not adopting modern techniques (and not even – the goal you refer to could have been given had there been an official behind the goal to see it, which is hardly an issue of technology) is match fixing. Once there is an instant replay on which the referee can rely, it also makes it much harder to fix a result by biasing the game towards one side or another and shape the tournament in a way that suits the organisers.

    The world can immediately see everything that happens on the pitch, but we accept that the final call rests with the referee, who may or may not see everything that happens, and his decision is final. Once we know that he has access to the same information that we do, we also expect that he will make no mistakes or wrong decisions. For example, FIFA would have much preferred to see France go through to the World Cup than Ireland for many reasons, many of them related directly to France’s worth to them in monetary terms. There would have been no margin of error in the refereeing decision which would have been very good for the game and how it is percieved, but very bad for how FIFA wanted the World Cup line-up to look.

    Hopefully through the bad fortune of Ireland, England, Mexico and others, there will be enough momentum to force a change. It’s very bad for the perception of the game, and with such public incidents involving top-tier participants they could make it too embarrassing to not make a change. I imagine it’ll be a small concession to start with though, such as an official behind each goal.

  2. Garret Says:

    Oh how the plot thickens, Sepp has issued an apology to the English F.A today over the incident and has vowed to reopen the debate on technology: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/world_cup_2010/8771294.stm

    Basically Fifa have made international plonkers of themselves while spoiling the game for many. In terms of refereeing Fifa is about thirty years behind rugby, a game in which, despite its physical nature, the ref commands total respect and the amount of messing about, diving etc is far below that of football. Rugby is also a sport that embraced technology years ago.

    Now in direct contradiction to all of the above I have loved this world cup, its been full of surprises, Switzerland beating Spain, Italy going home, the French going on strike. And then there is Diego Maradonna who for me is the quantum physics aspect of this world cup. A learner driver who has been given a fast sports car of a team, he has figured out the steering, he now knows where the brakes are but he could get funny ideas, he could start to think that it is a flying car, or a submarine car like that of James Bond . This is the man who insisted on state of the art toilet seats: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1280607/Diego-Maradona-demands-1-600-luxury-toilets-World-Cup.html.Yes he is completely mad but if he does it, if he pulls this off, if that toilet seat holds up we are in for a hell of a ride.

    I think some of the so called minnows have played amazing football full of team sprit and a true determination to win. In particular the Asian teams, Slovakia, new Zealand and Chile. The USA are no longer the joke they once were, they were a joy to watch and yes they were cheated out of a win against Slovakia by a ref who looked like it was the first time he had seen this green stuff called grass.

    Who will win???????????????????

    Brazil, have embraced the on the best aspects of Italian football, i.e. an amazing defence while keeping that Brazilian goal scoring attacking line up. They play as a team and let the opposing team come on to them and then get them on the counter attack with devastating consequences. Germany have been really great to watch, they are full of pace and for me Ozil has been one of the understated stars of this world cup. I don’t see Spain beating Germany or Argentina, I think they have had those old ghosts come back to haunt them and that Swiss banana skin has ultimately tripped them up. Holland, well they are still talking to each other and they are all staying in the same hotel but they won’t do it against Brazil, sorry Kev. I think it’s going to be an Argentina vs. Brazil final , and depending how much Colombian marching powder is still circulating around Diego’s brain, it could be Brazils to win, but I would love to see Diego and the boys do it, he has promised to streak around the stadium if they do. Lets hope we see Messi explode. One more team to watch is Uruguay, they have been fantastic and could cause a big upset by beating Brazil, they have an amazing defence and Forlan has been another player of the tournament for me so who knows. And then there is England, oh sorry they are back in England aren’t they.

    I am planning to go to South Africa myself next year and go on safari. Hopefully I’ll spot all of the big game, lions, rhinos, elephants and if I am really lucky a North Korean football player.

    Bread and circus it may be but it’s tasty bread and the clowns look great, It’s just a shame that the ring master (Sepp) is a stubborn luddite who doesn’t knowhow to use his camera phone.

  3. garret Says:

    oh ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhohhhhhhhh oh oh oh. holland are indeed staying in the same hotel amd they have beaten brazil, curious and curiouser

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