Sunday, June 18, 2006

Soccer follow-up

There were some good comments in my previous soccer (FOOTBALL!) post; enough so that I thought it warranted another post.

Brad made the typical American comment about how the rules are "too arbitrary." I made a response, but potato's is much better, and one that I should have thought of since I am a referee.

" I don't agree with the lack of clarity about rules in football (ehrm soccer or whatever you call it ). The rules are clear, it just happens that in a fast moving game a lot of the decisions will be 50:50 . You had two players sent off because the referee thought you had infringed (most people this side of the pond thought he was right)."

Couldn't agree more...something people often forget about soccer (FOOTBALL!) is that where in(American) football a referee can make the call the instant it happens, or wait until the play is over to throw the flag, or take the play under review and look at it for 5 minutes in slow motion just to determine if someone stepped over a line, a soccer (FOOTBALL!) referee has all of about 3 seconds to see the possible infraction, run through a decision matrix in his head, and make the call. With cards, the time is extended to about another 10 seconds to decide if someone warrants a card or not. A great example of this limited decision time was the French non-goal in the South Korea-France match today. South Korea's keeper made a valiant effort, but the ball was over the line for about half a second. While it was obvious on the slow-mo replay, it must have been near impossible to see for the referees on the pitch. And since referees aren't supposed to make a decision unless they are absolutely sure, no goal...yes, it sucks, but it's part of the game and we all accept it. As for Larrionda's decisions being correct...well, I've already addressed that. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Potato goes on to make some points about the U.S. side that I somewhat agree with..

"The thing about the US team is that they are brave and skillful, but lack guile in comparison to the major world powers. A Euro manager would go nuts over Popes tackle because he should never have put himself in that position where he was reliant on a referee's interpretation. If you're on a yellow card and you get into a shoving match with you your opponent, you're asking for trouble."

You'll hafta cut us some slack about the "guile" thing...I mean, after all, most of these players grew up in a country where one of the most popular sports consists of beating the crap out of the other players. As for Pope's tackle being his own fault for putting himself in the position to be at a referee's mercy, normally I would agree with this sentiment. I've never had sympathy for idiots who continue to play out of control after receiving one yellow; after all, that is the purpose of two yellows equalling a red card. But in Pope's case, I felt that his tackle was just a clean aggressive tackle. Too often I see referees punish players for playing good aggressive soccer (FOOTBALL!); this seems to me to be one of those cases.

In any case, there were some good games today. I caught the second half of Brazil-Australia; the socceroos from Oz played them pretty evenly. The final score of 2-0 definitely did not reflect the game. I thought South Korea-France was going to be a snoozer, and it was for the first half, but the last 20 minutes of the game made up for it. South Korea's garbage goal in the 80th certainly made things exciting. The only thing that I thought really sucked was Zidane's yellow card, rendering him ineligible to play in what could possibly be his last international game. While I've never been a fan of the French, possibly losing your last international game to a crap yellow is a tough blow.

Now we just have to hope that the Italians knock off Italy, and we beat Ghana...and remember, this is all to gain the right to most likely play Brazil in our opening round of 16 game.