Sunday, 20 June 2010

The French have lost the plot

Only a couple of days ago, we were all praising the quality of refereeing at this tournament. Not any more. Miroslav Klose's dismissal against Serbia, closely followed by a completely ridiculous disallowed USA goal and now one of the worst red card decisions I have ever seen.

Kaka's first yellow card was barely deserved, coming in a bit of handbags with Yaya Toure, for which the Ivorian mysteriously wasn't punished. As for the second, well, there were so many things wrong with it it's difficult to know where to start. Firstly, it was clearly an outrageous dive from Keita, but that doesn't excuse the decision. What I'm most interested in is who actually saw it and told Monsieur Lannoy to send Kaka off? We've already ascertained from the TV coverage that it couldn't have been him. Next to look at would be the linesmen, who in general have a tendency to want to give lots of decisions anyway, but one was the opposite side of the pitch so surely he's not guilty. The other was still a good 40 yards away, the same goes for the fourth official. So who was it? If it was any of those 4 people then someone has made a very, very bad decision without seeing it properly. The only alternative is that the referee himself sent Kaka off on the basis of Keita's reaction, which makes it even worse.

FIFA now have the opportunity to make a statement. They should rescind the red card and ban Keita for at least one game. The referee and all of his team should be sent home. It is not acceptable to be making errors like that. One of the world's best players is now suspended for a World Cup game because another player ran into him. Graham Poll went home for his 3 card trick in 2006, the same thing should happen here. There are 16 games in each round of matches at the World Cup, how is it that we can't find 16 referees in the whole world who are capable of refereeing a match without making a decision like that? The same thing applies to the man who disallowed Maurice Edu's goal against Slovenia. It was so late in the game that you can be as sure as you can ever be in football that the USA would have won that game, which means the referee's incompetence has cost them 2 points. What happens now if they miss out on qualification by a point? The same man will still be doing major international tournaments next time, there appears to be no punishment for making poor decisions. If a striker constantly misses chances, he gets dropped. In the Premier League there are referees who constantly make poor decisions (Stuart Atwell, Rob Styles, Mike Riley are good examples of this) and continue to do games at the top level.

Moving on, the funny thing in the end is that the Ivory Coast need Brazil to beat Portugal. So getting Kaka sent off and trying to cripple a couple of their players perhaps wasn't the best idea. Actually, that reminds me, I didn't even mention that the over the ball, studs up 'challenge' on Elano didn't even get Tiote a yellow card. Or that Luis Fabiano practically caught the ball and ran into the goal without punishment. Or that the referee then had a laugh and a joke with the Brazillian asking him if he'd handballed it. How a man refereeing in the World Cup, the pinnacle of the sport, can have as bad a game as that is a complete mystery to me.

It would be unfair to focus solely on the Brazil match, as other things have happened today. New Zealand pulled a brilliant performance out of the bag to hold the World Champions, who severly lack creativity. It's not completely inconceivable that the Kiwis could qualify from this group, sadly I don't think they've quite got enough to beat Paraguay. The Italians themselves must be worried now, but I expect them to still qualify. Slovakia are a fairly weak side and shouldn't pose too many problems. Mind you, we thought that about New Zealand.

Saving the best til last, France! No one does anger and going on strike quite like the French do. I'm still not quite sure why they stormed off and refused to train, they claim it's because of Anelka being sent home, but they only actually left training after Patrice Evra's argument with the fitness coach. If you haven't seen the video of that then it's worth looking for. I particularly like the coach marching off and hurling his accreditation across the field.

One other thing; Chile play tomorrow. They have become my second team, their formation is unique at the tournament and they play exciting football, what's not to love?

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