Archive for June 14th, 2010

Ban the vuvuzela

World Cups over the years have created special images of crowd involvement.

Argentina gave us the ticker tape welcome in 1974. A mass of colour to welcome the teams and a memorable image.

Mexico 1986 gave us the Mexican Wave when the whole stadium erupted in celebration.

It was unique at the time although personally I feel it only happens now when the game is poor there is nothing else to see.

The supporters of the African teams can always be relied upon to bring colour and music to the Finals while the Scottish Tartan Army were welcome visitors to any finals – just a pity we don’t qualify for finals anymore!

The Dutch cover the stadium in orange, the Irish in green, the Brazilians in yellow and they roar, sing and dance encouragement at their teams.

Which brings me to World Cup South Africa 2010 and the vuvuzela.

I can understand the view that it is an African noise and part of the football culture of South Africa but frankly it is wasting many people’s enjoyment of the tournament – including players, broadcasters, supporters and television viewers.

Patrice Evra, the French captain, has said that the noise is preventing the players hearing each other on the field and is keeping them awake in their hotels.  Team coaches complain of the sheer volume of noise.

In the match between Netherlands and Denmark, Robin Van Persie, who had already been cautioned was penalised for offside but continued running and put the ball in the net. When the referee came over to him, Van Persie held his fingers to his ears and signaled that he could not hear the whistle.

It was a good get out but the incident showed there is a big problem.

FIFA and the South African authorities must find an answer. Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of the organizing committee agrees there is a problem but how can it be solved? The situation is being evaluated on an on-going basis it is reported.

For the sake of the tournament they should be banned from all matches.

Let the supporters cheer, chant, sing and dance and enjoy the matches.

Let’s hear the true, vibrant sound of South Africa.

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This is a poor Law change

We have now had the first penalty of the World Cup when Zdravko Kuzmanovic of Serbia for some strange reason handled a cross which was above his head in the last 10 minutes of the match with Ghana

It was an easy decision for referee Hector Baldassi of Argentina and Asamoah Gyan sent Vladimir Stoikovic the wrong way from the penalty spot.

This was the first time also that the recent amendment to Law 14 – The Penalty Kick – has been used in a top competition.

Basically the new law states that if a player feints when he is actually kicking the ball he is guilty of unsporting behaviour and must be cautioned. He is allowed to feint as he runs to the ball but not as he kicks it.

Confused? Yes just a bit.

In the Ghana  v Serbia match, Asamoah Gyan did not feint as he ran to the ball or took the kick but the Serbian goalkeeper came off his line before the ball was kicked.

Let’s imagine a scenario where the kicker feints as he takes the kick and the goalkeeper comes off his goal line before the kick is taken. The kicker must be cautioned but the goalkeeper is not punished.

I have to say that I think the International FA Board has made a mistake with this decision in a number of ways.

Firstly the goalkeeper has moved from his line before the player feinted to kick the ball and could also be considered to be guilty of unsporting behaviour. It does not seem correct that the kicker of a penalty kick, which is given for an infringement by the defending team, is punished while a player from the offending team who infringes the Laws is not.

I think it is also questionable that an automatic yellow card is given. This devalues the use of a yellow card for an offence which is committed before the ball is in play and is at best relatively minor – some would say it is just part of the game.

When teams arrange free kicks outside the penalty area which are meant to deceive opponents – three players running towards the ball but only one kicking it for example – is this not the equivalent of feinting.

I think the main breach of the Laws at penalty kicks is not feinting but encroachment and if a strong line is going to be taken then this should be the first target.

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