Archive for July 5th, 2010

Candidates for Final emerge

FIFA todayannounced the referees for the two semi final ties and so gave some pointers as to who will referee the Final of World Cup 2010.

 Ravshan Irmatov’s appointment to the semi final match between Netherlands and Uruguay is worthy recognition of his top class performances so far. However, having controlled superbly the possible powder keg that could have been Germany v Argentina, he must have been a very strong candidate for the Final. He is most unfortunate to miss out.

The appointment of the Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai to the Spain v Germany was predictable to the extent that there was always going to be a UEFA referee selected for this match.

Which takes us to the Final appointment and this will be influenced by the result of the Netherlands v Uruguay match but more importantly by the internal politics within the Referee Headquarters in Pretoria.

After Ravshan Irmatov, the referee who could referee the Final no matter the result of the semi finals is Benito Archundia of Mexico since no team from CONCACAF is involved.

The fact that Irmatov has been appointed for the semi, which many expected would go to Archundia suggests that Archundia is being held back for the Final.

He refereed neither a quarter final nor a semi final and is joined in the final 10 retained referees by his countryman Marco Rodriguez.

Carlos Simon from Brazil and Hector Baldassi from Argentina have been released but a strong South American candidate could be Oscar Ruiz from Colombia who is at his third World Cup.

The only European candidate is England’s Howard Webb since the other two Europeans, Kassai from Hungary and de Bleeckere from Belgium are involved in the second semi final as referee and fourth official respectively.

The behind the scenes pressure in Pretoria will be building up on José-Maria Garcia Aranda who is in charge of the World Cup officials.

It does seem to be any one from three- but who knows?

There will be a great deal of lobbying taking place before the recommendation on the Final referee goes to the FIFA President and his Executive Committee for ratification.

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Let’s get things in perspective

Football is a game of passions and opinions – by the media, players, coaches, and of course most importantly by the referees.

The Laws of the Game state that decisions are given ‘in the opinion of the referee’.

I have read in the international media a list of the worst refereeing decisions in the 2010 World Cup.

They are very obvious and very controversial and no-one would argue with the list below.

  • The disallowed goal for USA against Slovenia
  • The offside goal scored by Tevez against Mexico
  • The disallowed goal for England against Germany when the ball crossed the line
  • The goal awarded to Brazil when Luis Fabiano played the ball twice with his arm when he scored the second goal against Ivory Coast
  • The sending off of Brazil’s Kaka in the same match
  • The sending off of Australian Tim Cahill
  • The penalty awarded to Italy against New Zealand

No doubt others will have additions to this list.

In a football match, research has shown that a referee makes a minimum of 500 decisions.

After 60 matches that means a total of around 30000.

Some are simple – some are controversial.

To get 10 or so major decisions wrong out of 30000 is not a bad average!

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What the papers say

“Nothing can dry a continent’s tears. Nothing can recompense Ghana, the last African side at the World Cup, for the sporting injustice wreaked on them by Luis Suarez, Uruguay’s unofficial goalkeeper”,  said the UK Telegraph on Sunday.

“And nothing will end the nightmare of Asamoah Gyan, whose penalty then struck the bar.”

“Suarez’s offence was obvious. His handling of Dominic Adiyiah’s goal bound header was spotted by the well-positioned Portuguese referee.”

 “Olegario Benquerenca did everything he could under the Laws, dismissing the Uruguayan and awarding Ghana a last-minute penalty.”

“It was not FIFA’s fault that Gyan squandered a wonderful chance to strike a blow for Ghana, for Africa and for all who believe honesty still has a place in professional sport, even one with such scrambled ethics as football.”

“When Gyan missed, Suarez’s jubilant reaction confirmed the cynical nature of his deed. “The truth is,” said the Ajax striker, ‘it was worth it’.”

“His coach, Oscar Tabarez, defended Suarez, arguing it “was not cheating” because “it was instinctive”. The referee thought otherwise. So did everyone watching.”

“So FIFA must now act in the short-term and long-term. Having confirmed it would “be looking at that incident”, FIFA had the power to impose a ban of “at least one match” if the disciplinary committee deemed Suarez guilty of “unsportsmanlike conduct”.

“Already ruled out of Tuesday’s semi-final against the Netherlands here, Suarez should have been suspended for an additional match, ruling him out of the final or the third-place game. To have him polluting the competition again will further enrage Africans and neutrals.”

“FIFA made an idiot of itself by not taking any significant sanction against Thierry Henry when the Frenchman handled in helping Les Miserables qualify for the World Cup at the Republic of Ireland’s expense.“

“FIFA’s fair play code states: “Winning is without value if victory has been achieved unfairly or dishonestly. Cheating is easy but brings no pleasure. Henry escaped with his deception. Suarez should suffer further for his.”

Ghana’s distress was captured in the words of John Pantsil. “In the last minute we got a goal but the referee disallowed it,” said the Fulham defender.

“Instead of him giving the goal he whistled for a penalty.” Laws cannot be changed mid-tournament, and the damage is already done to Ghana, but the International FA Board must examine this.

FIFA privately was very dismissive of the idea of introducing a penalty goal, just as rugby union awards a penalty try for serious or repeated offences close to the line when a try was likely to be scored.”

“FIFA’s fear with all possible Law changes is that it brings in video evidence by stealth. Goal-line technology, as Sepp Blatter is now prepared to consider following Frank Lampard’s misfortune, is now not perceived as a problem as a HawkEye system will not delay the flow of the game, quite rightly a major consideration of FIFA.”

“There will be no reference to a referee in the stand. Nor would there be with the deliberate handball on the line. After the referee had dismissed Suarez, he would simply apply an additional sanction, that of a penalty goal.”

“FIFA is unlikely to follow rugby, a pity as there is another rule that football should adopt from the oval-ball game, that of play continuing while the physio attends a fallen player. Let’s call it the Drogba Rule. A Suarez Amendment would be good too“.

The offence of Thierry Henry and Luis Suarez was deliberate hand ball -according to the Laws, no more and no less.

The Laws have stood the test of time. If they ain’t broken – too much – don’t fix them.

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