Sunday, November 05, 2006
Pick a Ref, Any Ref, Part 1
The standard of officiating in the games involving Australia at the World Cup was, indeed, uniformly abysmal. Many Australian fans may have forgotten, in the wake of the outrage directed at Messrs. Cantalejo (v. Italy), Poll (v. Croatia) and Merk (v. Brazil), that the referee for our match against Japan, Abd El Fatah of Egypt, was equally bad (as Grella points out).
Probably with reference to the Brazil game more than anything else, Grella makes a very valid observation about refereeing standards:
"I wouldn't say that referees are biased but our name didn't count for anything," he said. "If you referee Empoli against Milan, for example, if you know the names of the Milan players and you don't know the Empoli players, that can sometimes mean a different call without even thinking about it. Maybe that's what happened to us at the World Cup.”
It’s an all-too-familiar story.
In my match report on the Brazil v. Australia game, I commented that Markus Merk had given the Brazilians a number of “free kicks by reputation” throughout. Merk, however, has not been the only one to do this of late.
Perhaps the worst performance by a referee I have seen in recent years was given by a Korean, Kim Young-Joo, in the Brazil v. Turkey game at the 2002 World Cup.
Kim, like Merk, favoured the Brazilians to a risible degree; every 50-50 call went against the Turks, many legitimate Turkish tackles were viewed as fouls. Markus Merk, eat your heart out.
The culmination of Kim’s star-struck officiating was Brazil winning via a penalty that wasn’t, and Hakan Unsal getting sent off thanks to some utterly disgraceful play-acting from Rivaldo (which, predictably, did not result in suspension for even a single match).
But Grella, whose comments bespeak a healthy common sense, ends his call for sanctions again poor referees with a pessimistic, if accurate, caveat:
"But maybe if we do that with the referees we will have no one left."
That, indeed, is the issue. How do we ensure that the best referees are selected for the top competitions? And, just as importantly, what can we do to enhance their performances at the event itself?
More on that next time.
As you know Mike, I'm a bit of a cricket buff like yourself and I'm convinced that umpires - most likely subconsciously - favour the team that is on top. Maybe it
Cricket umpires are probably unwittingly influenced by a winning team possessing an 'aura' when they're on top. The Aussie cricket team has had this in abundance in recent years in the same way that the West Indies did in their heyday.
Confident teams have a swagger and intimidating body language, so unfortunately refs and umpires who are not strong may be unduly influenced by this. And I'm referring to you Mr Merk.
I wonder how much money FIFA had to give back to Nike when they didn't?
Allez les bleu!!
Yeah, tend to agree. I remember one particular one-dayer when Viv Richards must have been out (LBW or caught at the wicket) about five times before he was actually given...
Mind you, I was a bit equivocal about it at the time; I resented the favouritism, but loved watching Viv bat. ;-)
You guessed it, one Luis Medina Cantalejo....
Didn't get time to write about it, but here is a snap-shot from Eurosports;
Deportivo held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Riazor in an entertaining Liga clash on Saturday night. A Ronaldinho penalty put Barca in front before the break, but Juan Rodriguez was quickest to the rebound after Victor Valdes saved Fabian Estoyanoff's second half spot-kick to earn Depor a point.
Both penalty decisions were controversial, with clumsy challenges not really affecting the passage of play punished by a fussy referee who showed five yellow cards to each side.