Bad Call!

I’ve been writing a bit about WC10 lately but haven’t touched on the refereeing. I can’t think of a world cup where there have been so many stories concerning missed calls; partly because they impacted “our” teams and partly because so many have been demonstrably wrong. But yes, obviously part of the game.The new technology showing offside and goal line decisions obviously feeds the flames too. I notice the aren’t showing the offside “line” in the replay lately, perhaps FIFA’s told the TV coverage to cut back on doing that.

I do believe that it is almost physically impossible to correctly call offside. (I think there’s been some research that confirms this). As an official you have to see the forward and the last defender while listening for the ball to be played in. Because if you look at the ball, the players can shift! And players can move 5m or more from the time the ball is played to the time the ball arrives. So it is too easy for an announce to say “wait a minute” and then replay the offside 5x in super slow motion and make the official look bad. So offside calls like Dempsey’s disallowed goal v. Algeria aren’t the worst of things.

It's the same for the sideline, this call is missed several times in every game

Clearly the guy from Mali was over his head in USA – Slovenia. FIFA includes refs from countries that haven’t qualified but you have to ask if the Maliian league is of a high enough level that this guy can really do an international match.

Finally the bad calls yesterday are the last straw. Tévez’s goal was one where he was offside when Messi hit it, and when the ball reached him there were two defenders between him and the goal. But that was a killer. And England’s, well, (1) payback for 1966 when they “won” the world cup on a ball that did NOT cross the line

In 1966 this ball did not go in. England celebrated it anyway.

and (2) while it’s obvious to us from the replay, you have to go stand where the linesman is and see how it looks from there. he’s 35y from the near post if he’s standing at the corner flag, and if he’s with the last defender he’s about 40y away. The training says you can not award a goal unless you see it for sure, so the “ball off the crossbar, bounce down, bounce out” is just an Achilles heel of the system. You have to make that call correctly but no one is in position to do it.

As a coach, I say you just have to eliminate those cases from happening. If your shot hits the bar and bounces out, shoot lower next time. If you got called offside unfairly, make more chances. Usually there are other moments in the game where if you had played better, the questionable call would not have mattered. For example, if Germany hit the bar at 4-1 and got robbed, would the fuss be the same?

Last what no one mentions is how the players say nothing when a bad call favors them. Even the German keeper saw the ball over the line, but the code is to say nothing because “the calls even out”:

And, yes, it was over. It should have been a goal for England. Probably about two meters.

Tévez knew he was offside against Mexico, too:

“I know I was offside, I know it was selfish but as long as they say it was a goal it’s OK for me and the team.”

What if soccer were like Ultimate Frisbee or golf where the players call fouls themselves?  No one thinks about that.

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