Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Referee's a Human Being

The World Cup’s round of the last 16 is a clear demonstration of our humble human origins. Out of the round’s 8 matches I got to watch 6, and in 4 of those 6 I have witnessed refereeing errors that either deprived a well deserved goal or earned an ill conceived one:
  1. England – Germany: A perfectly legal Lamprad strike denied England from equaling the score to 2:2, which could have changed the game’s flow and stop German dominance.
  2. Argentina – Mexico: Argentina’s first goal from Tevez was scored from an incredibly obvious offside position and ruined Mexico’s game plan.
  3. Netherlands – Slovakia: Slovakia was wrongly awarded with a penalty kick that was converted into a goal. Granted, the penalty didn’t affect the outcome as it was the last move of the match and only served to cut the Dutch advantage, but the yellow card given to the Dutch goalkeeper might have an effect later down the tournament.
  4. Portugal – Spain: Silva’s winning goal for Spain was scored from an obvious offside position (unless Xavi didn't hit the ball with his attempted flick; I think he did). Interestingly, the replays never bothered to show us an offside line to make the call, the way they usually do; I was only made aware of the problem while watching a YouTube replay. I wonder if FIFA has implemented a policy of shutting down our right to make our own minds up regarding offside calls.

Given the abundance of bad critical calls there are the expected “referee’s a wanker” comments all over the place. While those calls are probably correct, technically speaking (the referees are humans, after all), I am of the opinion these calls are off the mark. The referees are humans, after all, and like all humans they jerk off and they make mistakes. Instead of blaming the messenger, football requires a revision of the way games are being refereed.
FIFA has always been known to object to such changes under the argument that adding TV replays and/or an armada of additional referees would prevent the game from being played the same way all over the world, given that not everyone will be able to follow the more resource demanding solutions to the problem. I agree there is some merit to FIFA’s claim, but I suggest a workaround: tie the level of refereeing to what’s at stake. Use a TV referee at the World Cup and the Champions League, but keep to the current refereeing regime for Hapoel Beer Sheba’s league games.
Let’s face it, judging by the sample given to us by the World Cup’s round of 16, the results of football games are determined by a lot of things. Merit is not one of those things half the time, which means luck is the major factor the other half of the time. If that is the case and luck is the determining factor when it comes to winning a football game then what use are rules in the first place? Under such circumstances the offside rule, to point at one ongoing football law enforcement issue, is just as useful as the rule that says Australians are only allowed to record off the air TV contents in order to watch it once: it's a non enforceable rule that everyone breaks.

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