Saturday, 24 June 2006

Red card to the referee

Once again I am here to talk about a football game that I will remember for ages because it was funny, and once again the reason for that is the referee. I'm talking about the Croatia - Australia game, which sealed Guus Hiddink's reputation for generating gold out of everything he touches (I mean, if he can get Australia to the round of last 16, the man has to be a magician).
I'll start by saying I wanted Australia to win. Not necessarily because I'm an Australian, but more because I liked the way they played Brazil, and more because it was the Croations that did what I don't like about Australia - going for the legs. And then there's the fact Croatia is one of those teams I like to hate, with the reason being their collaboration with the Nazis. I know it's a stupid reason, but if you have a team that you like and a team that you hate football becomes that much more interesting.
Anyway, the hero was Graham Paul, a senior English referee. Every Arsenal supporter out there will tell you what the whole world knows by now - the guy's a shit referee. Even my aunt called me from Israel to tell me she thinks the referees are screwing Australia after this match.
To be fair, I think the guy was not on an Australian vengeance mission; he's just not good enough. Let's see what we had:
  • Australia should have had a penalty after Viduka was held in the box during the first half.
  • Australia should have had a penalty after a second hand ball by the Croations in the second half. The German director noticed it, the referee didn't.
  • Harry Kewel's goal was scored from a very obvious offside position. The German director noticed it, the referee didn't.
  • The worst of the worst: Mr Paul issued a second yellow card to this Croation but forgot to issue the red. The German director noticed it, the referee didn't. Later on, Paul gave the guy a third yellow card in what must be a world first!
  • Was it just me or did the game never really finish? There was mayhem in the Croation box, an Australian seemed to have been fouled, the referee blew his whistle, the ball ended in the Croation net, the referee issued the famous third yellow card while arguing with Croations, and in the mean time the other players started celebrating/crying and exchanging shirts. Now, it could be that the ref blew his whistle to end the game, but since when does a referee do such a thing a second before a goal is scored?
It's obvious the guy just lost control of the game and of himself. He wasn't on his own, though. He had some tough competition.
First there was the Australian keeper, who had a few blunders, including the second Croation goal. But it was the SBS commentator that really got on my nerves; so one sided, such an idiot!
After Australia got its first penalty he kept on repeating that it was because Kahill was pushed, even while the German director showed slow motion replays of the Croation handling the ball. And then there was no word of Kewel's obvious offside while scoring - he didn't want to break the news to the enemy.

Yes, people make mistakes, and the referee is just a human being. But you sort of expect more from everyone in a World Cup. Come on, if I'm to lose sleep, at least make it worthwhile!

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