The Argentine announcers just keep bringing up the bad call by Koman Coulibaly in the US v Slovenia game. Worst Call of the World Cup so far. It has probably come up 10 times during the scoreless first half of England v Algeria.
Last night I complimented the World Cup refs on an excellent performance so far, especially the linesman….Well. That was before Koman Coulibaly. That was before the referees decided the outcome of BOTH games so far today.
The Mali refs disallowed the 3rd American goal, and there is no reason why. Did he call offsides on Bradley? On Edu? Did he call a foul on Bradley for trying to free himself from the two armed bearhug that the Slovenian defender gave him? No one knows, and so far they are not saying why. US Coach Bob Bradley claims that he heard it was the latter. If so, that is probably a story chosen after the fact by the refs because it is a judgment call, and thus less likely for FIFA to have sanctionable grounds.
Even if the linesman screws up the offsides call, then you give the penalty kick. Easy game. Horrible horrible call, and pretty apparent. The linesman sometimes have difficult calls to make, but this was not one of them.
Really, it was not a strong performance by the ref before the wrongly disallowed goal. Jozy Altidore gets taken down outside of the box by the last defender? That is why the rule was originally created so that a red card can be given. Was the red card given? No.
There were quite a number of dangerous Slovenian challenges in the second half. Or the yellow card against Robbie Findley for the ball that hit him in the face. And do not even get me started about the (only!) 3 minutes of injury time that were all used on the Slovenian injury. Erroneous.
On top of that, was this questionable red card against Miroslav Klose of Germany in the first game of the day.
While this is at least arguably correct under the FIFA rules of the game, I doubt that is given a red card very frequently. It was his second yellow, but even so, I doubt this is given very frequently. Either way, when a ref goes card happy in the first half (the ref gave out 6 cards in the first 35 minutes), results like this happen quite frequently.
Back in the day, when I was an NBA fan, I just got sick of watching the NBA because it was so obviously rigged. My friends made fun of me for it at the time, but of course it turns out that Tim Donaghy was a biased arbiter. I never did any statistical analysis, but it was so obvious to me that I quit watching the NBA, whereas I had formerly been a pretty big NBA fan.
I felt somewhat similarly after watching this game 7. Whether the refs were actually pulling a Tim Donaghy is beside the point: every call is a judgment call, especially on the block. The Lakers got every close call and the advantage of some missed calls. How can I be confident that the games were called fairly? I can’t really. So why would I watch? If I wanted that, I’d watch pro wrestling.
The World Cup, I would argue, has a similar problem. Football is relatively binary: a goal is scored or isn’t, so one mistake can decide the game: a penalty call, an offsides, a red card, etc. Basketball is the opposite: 45 field goals per team are regularly scored, so a single call is way less relatively important. On the other hand, each call is very subjective.
We have more evidence that football is not a farce. Referees are evaluated stringently, and almost all domestic leagues run a round-robin style league, which greatly decreases the importance of any given call. However, most countries also run a Cup at the same time, usually stylistically similar to the World Cup. I haven’t run any statistical analysis, but the results of these Cups seem to be intuitively similar to what one would expect given how the team performed in the domestic league.
Still, I would argue that the football should reform its rules to ensure that the players decide who wins the World Cup, not the refs. Offsides calls should be evaluated with video replay. Balls crossing the goal line or not doesn’t happen often, but that should be reviewable as well. The penalty + red card rule should be carefully considered (I have no problem with it in the original context: outside the penalty area, the last man intentionally fouls to avoid a breakaway…that should be an automatic red). Although it is not traditional, the yellow and red card structure is archaic and should be reformed.
Perhaps only changing the card structure is truly a large reform: at least another card should be added and the penalties carefully evaluated for what incentives are given.
As a final note, unlike the NBA finals, this year’s World Cup finals have been excellently refereed as of now. In particular, the linesman have done an excellent job with offsides. I am frequently the first to criticize referees, so I want to be the first to praise them. World Cup refs: job well done!