Monday, June 28, 2010

Tainted Tournament?

Just two days ago I posted that the officiating in the World Cup wasn't that bad. I take it back now. For the Uruguayan referees to miss such an obvious goal is inexplicable (I am talking about England's disallowed goal when the ball clearly bounced over the line and back out). I am not saying that England would have won if the goal had counted; they were clearly outplayed by Germany. Nonetheless coming back from 2-0 down with 2 quick markers may have changed their strategy or given them some life.

At this level to have such a mistake that cannot be corrected is no longer acceptable. Sadly, Sepp Blatter will continue to run FIFA like it is 1966, contending that errors are part of the game. That's true. In fact, it seems like errors are the lead story of nearly every game now. But when we have technology to reduce the number of errors, it should be adopted. In the case last night, the fourth official should have immediately stopped the game and awarded the goal. Let's have the players deciding the outcome, not 3 stooges from Uruguay.

For fans, what is the point of watching anymore? Why waste our time when the result can be so easily dictated by bad decisions? I'm really not sure. I skipped the Argentina-Mexico game and understand now that there was another grievous error that allowed Argentina to open the scoring. It's disappointing that soccer should demonstrate such staggering incompetence on the world stage, but it's nothing new. What is more disappointing is that FIFA refuses to change its misguided policies on referee selection and the use of instant replay.

So is the tournament tainted? Despite my points above, I don't think so. We just have to accept that international soccer is a sport with horrible officiating run by a small group of dinosaurs. For us raised on North American sports where refs are generally competent (I'll ignore the NBA here) and the administration receptive to change, it's tough to understand. But that's the way it is and if you want to enjoy the World Cup, you'll just have to accept it.



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