Refereeing at World Cup
Published by marco on
If you’ve been watching the World Cup, setting your alarm for 2:30 in the morning and dragging yourself out of bed to watch Andreas Cantor scream at you in Spanish on Univision, you’ve seen a lot of questionable refereeing. Probably the most often-miscalled play is offsides, in which the linesman always seems to err for the defense.
There have been other game-changing calls, though. Probably the first was in the first round of games in the group stage, in which Turkey was robbed of a tie and a point when the referee in the Turkey-Brazil match, “Mr. Kim Young-Joo, judged that Luizao fell in the area and awarded Brazil a penalty kick”. (Source: Brazil 2 : 1 Turkey on Fifa World Cup). Brazil puts away the kick in the 87th minute and collects the win. The replay, however, shows that the pulldown occurred at least 2 steps outside of the penalty box and should have been a free kick.
In the U.S.-Mexico match, a corner kick in the second half was “… superbly punched clear by O’Brien as Borgetti contested in the air. [Referee] Pereira waved play on as the Mexican’s appeals fell on deaf ears.” This should have resulted in a penalty kick and even a red card for a deliberate handball. (Source: USA create history against Mexico on Eurosport)
The team most sorely abused by bad officiating was easily Italy. Eurosport again has the article Maldini: ‘It was scandalous’, which talks about two bad calls in the South Korea-Italy game. The first was:
“…when Christian Vieri served Tommasi perfectly in the area before the Roman beat keeper Lee Woon-Jae from close range. Goal Italia? No mister Tomassi you were off-side according to the ref… Certainly not according to the video replays. Even Brazilian TV Globo proved on a World Cup show that the Roman midfielder was 23 centimetres on side.”
The other call was a red card issued to Francesco Totti for diving in the first overtime period. Soccer Referees on Run, and They Can’t Hide on the NY Times quotes “Joseph S. Blatter, the president of FIFA” as saying “the call made by Referee Byron Moreno of Ecuador against Francesco Totti of Italy on Tuesday should not have been a yellow card, a penalty that resulted in Totti’s ejection.”
“The Italians had five goals disallowed in three matches and a series of questionable decisions go against them before Tuesday’s second round match.”
Unfortunately, in response to this, the Italians now suspect a conspiracy against them. Specifically in the last match, they say “It seemed as if they just sat around a table and decided to throw us out”. The suspicion is that FIFA really wanted to keep one of the hosts in the cup. If that’s true, why not just cheat Turkey a little more and keep Japan in the cup? The blatant calls against the Italians aren’t a conspiracy theory, they’re just bad judgements. Italy lost to Croatia because two goals were called back for offsides when video replay showed that they were both well onsides. The goal against South Korea in overtime was also onsides, as mentioned above.
Another article on Eurosport, What the users think of the ref… fields opinions from people who’ve written in about the refereeing. One user asks “…when FIFA will have some common sense and put a referee in the stadium with the video, connected with the main referee on the pitch?” I think this is a very valid point as the best linesman FIFA has to offer right now can’t call offsides to save their lives. The vantage people at home are offered in the replays is the one the linesman should be watching all the time. When they see offsides, signal the referee on the field. No instant replay necessary, just using technology to call the game better.
The Germany-U.S. semifinal contained a non-call of a supposed handball by German defender Frings, but in this case, it seems that referee Hugh Dallas made the right call (Source: U.S. Tying Goal Only an Inch Away):
“The key is whether Frings moved his arm to stop the ball or whether the arm was at is side. Replays weren’t conclusive, but it looked more likely that he didn’t move his arm. … ‘If the ball strikes the defender accidentally, no offense is committed,’ soccer rules state.”
In the other semifinal that day, Brazil-England, Ronaldinho, who put in a wonderful game with an excellent run and pass to Rivaldo for a goal and a great free kick for a goal, was put out of the match in the 57th minute for a “studs-up tackle”. The rise and fall of Ronaldinho on Eurosport says “A foul? Probably. A yellow card? Severe. A red card? Ridiculous…”
The replay shows the contact was purely unintentional, having just missed the ball, and calling that ‘studs-up’ was really stretching the imagination. The referee saw something completely different and issued a red card straight away, even though the play resulted in no injury (feigned or otherwise) and no advantage. So, though Brazil goes through, we are denied seeing another nice game played by Ronaldinho.
FIFA heeds call and appoints Europeans on Eurosport reports that “…FIFA President Sepp Blatter has finally bowed to the weight of public opinion and appointed six European referees to take charge of the World Cup semi-finals.” The selection for the rest of the cup had been a “regional selection policy”, but, unfortunately, many of the regions selected simply don’t have officials capable of refereeing matches at that level.