calls of the contest
i wouldnt say i have world cup fever, per se. perhaps i had a world cup 24 hour virus during the first week of round one. maybe the world cup runs after the first USA match. but not a fever. i have watched a few matches, only the later games, and enjoyed the spirit of the sport. but aside from the USA, i cant say i have any obligatory allegiance to a particular club. i do hope that mexico wins, based solely on the fact that im from california and growing up not only was one of my best friends mexican, but i do dearly love burritos. of course, being black, i try to root for the african teams. but when they inevitably get eliminated there is hardly any sense of loss in my heart. i go on unaffected. such is the nature of contest.
but what i have taken close note of, is the way the referees call the games. on multiple occasions i have seen a team robbed of a goal or a goal that should have been reversed get counted on the scoreboard. it seems that, unlike most other sports i watch, there is no conferring between refs to ensure a score, a foul, or a call is justly deserved. if the ref makes a call, the call stands, and sometimes this call will remain a mystery, as the refs themselves, protected by the lords of FIFA, dont have to justify their decisions.
in an early USA match, a goal was scored by an american striker but the score wasnt added because the ref called a foul. who the ref called the foul on remains a mystery, as the replays clearly showed no foul was committed by an american player (and in fact, a foul was clearly committed by a player of the opposing team), but no matter how much the american team protested, or how emphatically the question was posed just WHO the foul was on, the ref stayed mum. not only would he not engage the players in a discussion on what, who, and why the foul was called, he wouldnt even entertain the idea of explaining his decision. as the FIFA rules state, he has no obligation to reveal who the foul was on, and as the clock kept running, the american players had to eventually concede to the fact that they, as well as the commentators, the spectators, and the world viewership, would never know just why that goal didnt count.
earlier today, with the score 2-1 in favor of germany, an english player kicked a sweet 20 yarder into the goal. it should have tied the game and the two teams should have went into the half with the match tied 2-2. but because the ball hit the top post and bounced into the goal, the ref called that it didnt count. this, even though on review, the ball very clearly bounced at least a yard and a half into the net. now, this replay is shown on a screen at the stadium, and repeated multiple times on television, but once the ref made his call, it stood. there was no backing out of it. england went into the half down by one goal, and with their second half strategy reflecting this deficit, they were eliminated from the cup. bitter and dejected, a stink is sure to rise on their london shores upon return.
and now, watching the argentina and mexico match, the first goal was scored by argentina. when the replay was shown, it was obvious the argentinian player was offsides. decidedly by two yards or more, yet the goal counted. the mexican players, deservedly frustrated and protesting the goal, pleaded with the ref to look up at the screen, at the replay, so he could see with his own eyes what the rest of the world saw. the ref refused. he held his whistle in his mouth, he threatened to pull out his yellow card, he ordered the players back onto the field. now im not going to say that argentina wont eventually win, and that that unfortunate goal will be the deciding factor, but at some point, you have to wonder if there is such thing as justice in the sport of futbol. even if argentina go on to win 6-0, the dark cloud of that non-call will hang above the history of this match.
but i suppose in many ways this reflects life. there are no replays in life. no make up calls when you suffer the fate of a bad decision. no refs confer to deliberate whether an action you made, or an action against you, was fair or not. time doesnt stop so judges can study a replay and determine what is reasonable and what isnt. once it happens it has happened and we have to live with the fate of things. we cant pick the wrong lover then say, "oh wait, that person misrepresented themselves to me, i want a do-over." we cant trip into a crosswalk, get plowed by a car, and then have time rewind so we can attempt to cross the street again, this time without any slips-ups. we cant take back the things we said. we rarely have a chance to say the things we didnt get to say.
so in that respect, i suppose the sport differs from most others. we have to live with the decisions that have been made, and the consequences that befall them. hopefully in the end we can consider the contest fair and just, and that the final score reflects the efforts that were made. its a shame things dont work out, but we have to face things as they are given to us. cest la vie. onward and upward.