Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FIFA=Frustratingly Incompetent Football Arbiters

Just a bit more on the ridiculously stubborn attitude of FIFA regarding video replay. There's been no comment on either of the poor decisions that marred Sunday's games. But there has been an immediate decision related to in-stadium video replay. In each venue, there is a video screen that shows the television feed. If you are watching the games, you will have noticed that fans that themselves on the screen and act accordingly. FIFA has a policy, however, of cutting away when a controversial call is replayed.

Well, during the Argentina-Mexico game, the first Argentine goal was offside but allowed. But the video screen didn't cut away, so the fans and players saw the replay which clearly indicated the goal should not have counted. The Mexicans went ballistic and there were problems at halftime as they accosted the officials on their way to the tunnel.

So FIFA's brilliant solution? Censor replays. The most surprising sentence from the article:
FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said Monday that replaying the incident was
"a clear mistake."
What!? The clear mistake was the non-call. How can you be so arrogant to ignore that? Instead, FIFA blames the stadium replay guys (who are not FIFA employees). But wait! Aren't errors supposed to be a "part of football"? That's been Sepp Blatter's take for years. I guess what he means is that errors that affect the outcome of the game are a part of football, but errors that allow fans to realize how poor the officiating is are not. Bah. The continued hypocrisy here amazes me. The rest of the world is far more tolerant than I am towards such fan-unfriendly behavior.

Yellow Card Carryover

One thing that I haven't mentioned is the change to the yellow card carryover rules. In previous World Cups, if a player received two yellow cards in his first three games, he would miss the next game due to suspension. But when the knockout tournament began, single yellow cards would be nullified; i.e. the player would start with a blank slate. But during the knockout phase, two yellows in any two games would mean the player would miss the next game. So getting cautioned in the round of 16 and then again in the semi-final would render the player unusable for the final. This happened to Germany's Michael Ballack in 2002.

So FIFA's brilliant decision to avoid this situation? Yellow cards from the first round now carry over until the quarter finals are complete! Yes, if a player gets two yellow cards in five games, he will miss the semi-final! That's 450 minutes of soccer in which you are allowed but one caution. But if you get a yellow in the quarter-finals, then one in the semis, no problem. Given how card-happy some of these referees have been, it's simply not right.

The cancellation of yellows after the quarterfinals will only affect the 4 teams that advance, but already the quarterfinals will have players missing a game because they picked up two bookings in 4 games. I don't believe any league has such a rule (the Premier League rule is 5 yellows leads to a suspension) and it shouldn't be so strict for the most important tournament.

The right solution is to maintain the rule for stage 1. Then in the knockout tournament, cautions in consecutive games lead to a suspension. But a single yellow would be deleted if the player completes another game without going in the book. Seems simple to me.

OK, that's enough complaining about this. I've decided to accept the World Cup for what it is: a great tournament that is run by an old-boy network of stubborn incompetents. I'm not even going to blame the referees any more. The FIFA selection process chooses officials who should not be on the world stage. When they get there, we should not be surprised they fail miserably. Until FIFA changes its attitudes towards the selection process, these stories will continue.

Japan plays tonight, here's hoping for a game free of controversy.



1 comment:

  1. Howard Webb made 3 successive blunders in the final game between Holland and Spain. Was he trying to made amends for his own cock up during the Spain vs Switzerland game?