Sunday, June 25, 2006

Foul weather

One of the few bad things I’ve noted, amongst a myriad of positive points it must be said, about this World Cup has been the attitude of the referees regarding fouls. Before the tournament started, Fifa warned that they would crack down on fouls, especially two-footed lunges and tackles from behind. Sure, this is fair warning and any player committing these fouls should be punished accordingly. But the key words here are: accordingly and fouls.

Firstly, the referees seem to be handling fouls with cotton hands – or whatever the saying is – as they punish ANY tackle from behind, regardless of whether the player has won the ball or not. Now, as far as I know, if you tackle from behind and win the ball fairly it’s not a foul. This just doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The line between a foul and non-foul should be set more clearly as I think sometimes referees don’t even know when to blow the whistle and when to let play go on. They are also blowing for silly little things like a slight push in mid-air which most fans feel to be a legitimate challenge for a header, or a defender blocking an attacker when they’re running shoulder to shoulder.

Secondly, I feel referees are being oversensitive regarding fouls. They are handing out cards MUCH too easily. Yellow cards are dished out by the dozen in some games, and at the World Cup two yellows in a round mean you miss the next match. In a knock-out competition like this, that will quite likely spell the end of your World Cup (as exemplified by Michael Essien’s absence from their clash with Brazil on Tuesday – but let’s hope not). So player who are on one yellow don’t play to their full-potential – hesitating when going in for tackles and so forth. Referees should take these factors in consideration before booking players willy-nilly.

Attackers aren’t making it any easier for the referees either , though, with players dramatically diving to the ground at only the slightest hint of contact. This has been happening in football for years, but this is the worst case of play-acting I’ve seen to date and it’s no wonder a number of players (too few in my book, though) have been booked for “simulation” as they call it (Arjen Robben etc). It’s still difficult for referees to be 100% accurate every time, especially with the pace of today’s game.

We have seem the dire effects of this free-flowing stream of fouls a number of times this tournament already, most recently last night’s sending off of Lucic for a second bookable offence which was clearly the opposite – unbookable – ending the Swedish dream. USA were also the unlucky recipients of harsh treatment in their crucial match with Ghana, when the African team was awarded a penalty for a foul inside the box which was clearly not worth a penalty. We’ve seem many more examples of this throughout Germany 2006 and it seems unlikely (unluckily) to end at the Round of 16.

So with the implementation of these new “standards” I think the competitive edge has been blunted slightly, making the football less of a high-spirited jostling and grueling battle for supremacy. I just feel the game lacks these things slightly and referees are holding more power in their pocket and haphazardly wielding this power than they should be and matches have become a more tactical and disciplined waiting game. No wonder, Germany are doing so well, Jeurgen Klinsmann took the whole team to watchmaker as part of their pre-tournament build-up. Why? To watch a watchmaker take a watch apart and put it back together – to teach them patience and self-discipline. Maybe he knew something about the way the officials would be blowing their whistles that other teams didn’t.


mullet said...

Thats a great point, and the absolute joke that was last nights fixture between Holland and Potugal is a perfect example. I'm not so sure as to where the blame actually lies. Probably with the referee but FIFA has put a lot of pressure on the ref's this World Cup to not make any mistakes because they are being closely watched and analysed. I think all of the referees are a little nervous about making mistakes and end up making bigger mistakes because of it, case in point, Greame Poll handing out 3 yellows. True, the players aren't hepling the situation much but I reckon FIFA has to take a long hard look at what it has caused and possibly tell the trigger happy ref's to ease up. Well thats my two cents for the day, I am now going to go and rest my weary bones. Preseason training started today and I dont know if I can handle another six weeks of todays punishment. Cheers

henno said...

Yuo, that game stated my point loud and clearly. As did the game between Ghana and Brazil. That ref looked like he had a point to prove even before the whistle blew - despite Seth Blatter's warnings before the time - and he sure made his point: "I'm a tit." Shame, Ghana didn't stand a chance, man. At least Adriano got booked (rather unfairly I think though) for diving.

henno said...

Did you see - I got a little pic with my posts now? Hehe, what a man I am. :P

mullet said...

Hehe. I saw your little pic, you think you cool now or something? Ok, it is cool, I want a little picture too. Yeah, the world cup is bringing up a load of talking points for all the wrong reasons. Speaking of talking, you noticed how it seems that you and I are the only ones making any posts on your blog at the moment. Very strange that. Haha. Footie is da shit!

henno said...

Yeah, the other fools don't appreciate the value of the magic which is football. Get yourself a little pic hehe. See the Newcastle scarf? Especially for this month of football. Take a little pic of yourself in your scouzer uniform - that might do the trick hehe.