Saturday, July 03, 2010

The World Cup repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce

There is much comment on the tragedy of how Ghana was denied a victory by Luis Suarez's blatant handball on the goal line, followed by a missed penalty.

As Ben Hale puts it "Ghana got screwed". Of course, today we were entertained by the farce of Paraguay

and Spain

both missing penalties within a few minutes of each other. The shooters and the ref should be shot.

Football is being ruined by cynical play, diving, professional fouls and more, of which there are no better examples than Maradona's "Hand of God" goal,

and just this year Thierry Henry doing the same to knock Ireland out and put France into the World Cup. That worked out well enough that one might believe in divine justice.

Eli starts with the observation that additional referees, instant replays and more would ruin the flow of the beautiful game. The cynicism that has crept in comes from a moral calculus that undervalues the costs of cheating and sharp practice. The real issue is not how to make the game "fairer", but rather how to tip the balance so that players don't take advantage.

His answer is impose long bans, even lifetime bans, on players who do what Maradonna, Thierry Henry and Luis Suarez did, and insist that they not be paid during their bans. Such bans would be imposed post game and the tribunals could use replay video, referee's reports and more. If Luis Suarez had to balance losing the game against losing his career, he might not have punched the ball off the line.



Rattus Norvegicus said...

Oh, come on, give me a hat tip...

This was a case of a really bad corner case in the rules. I suspect that the rules should be change to allow the goal in cases where the prescribed penalty does not represent a sufficient punishment. However, this is nothing like the phantom penalty which caused the US in the Slovenia game. The rules were applied and the result was injustice, but only because play had expired. A corner case.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Oh, BTW, the CAPCHA was "yeseves". I always want Eve to say yes.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

As the rat noted over at CM's place, skilled players use the rules as both a shield and a sword. This happens in pretty much any game, my experience with this is as a reasonably accomplished "sea lawyer" who knew how to argue a case when there was a protest in a yacht race (and believe me, the two boat length rule is pretty open). Although I doubt that there was any such moral calculus involved in the handball, the results did suck. Ghana should have won the game (even though I was rooting against them, because you know, they beat the US).

BTW, the Spain v. Paraguay game was in a tie for the best match of the tournament, Spain v. Portugal was just as good. Just tell me soccer (well, real football) is boring after watching either of those games! I fully expect Germany v. Spain (Nazis v. Fascists, it's a joke son) to be the best game of the tournament.

danny Satterfield said...

This football fan agrees with the wise bunny. Is it me or has the officiating been unusually bad even for a World Cup?

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

The blocked penalties in Spain Paraguay were not "terrible shots."
they were not bad shots blocked by good (and perhaps lucky)goal tending.

It's silly to pretend that the flow of the game would be
wrecked by video review of goals - it's not like there are fifty frigging goals a game, you know - and your draconian idea of
lifetime bans for a goal stopping handball is also silly. Far more sensible would be instant video review, with goal preventing handballs being ruled "goal tends" as in basketball.

Gaz said...

Easy solution - allow the ref to award a penalty goal for a handball that saved a certain goal - they do it in Rugby for the same sort of thing - plus an additional penalty kick so the handball "save" turns into 1 or 2 goals. Think of it as a positive feedback.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

CIP, I'm in there with you on the goal tech. They use it in several of the top European leagues, why not the World Cup?

And Gaz has a good idea too, although it would surely introduce yet more controversy. Basically the rule as is works fine in 99.99999999% of the cases, just not in one where the foul occurs when time has expired in a tie game. The PK plus the red card should generally be more than enough punishment, and is, in most cases.

Anonymous said...

CIP have a look how long it takes for the fourth ref to decide in a RU international.

Richard C

Anonymous said...

Technology will have to be used to discourage cheating. At least there was a few yellow cards for diving in this World Cup

However, constantly referring to the technology would interrupt the flow. The ref should be able to call on a "video referee" to comment on incidents where he was unsighted.

In rugby football a "video ref" advises the ref on difficult touchdowns. Videos are not used for fouls but a manager can "cite" an opposing player to a citing commissioner with video evidence of foul play. Lengthy bans have been handed down for teh most unsavoury incidents.


Chris S. said...

I don't think Suarez would have done any different whatever the sanction, split second decisions like that owe more to reaction than thought. Besides, would Kewell also deserve a lifetime ban for his handball on the line earlier in the competition?
The idea of a penalty goal in these circumstances is an interesting one, if one is awarded is the player still sent off?
Richard C. as the video ref only decides on 'difficult' tries in Rugby I don't think a direct comparison is fair (it often takes a long time just to locate the ball among a tangle of legs, arms & bodies).
No mention of the foul on Fabregas after the Spanish penalty miss that was also a stonewall penalty?
Best game of the tournament so far = Japan v Denmark or England v Germany. Most comical = Brazil v Netherlands.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind a years ban for play acting like this
even if it has to be imposed after the game.

Perhaps you could simply leave the game running and review contested scenes in parallel. If there are cards to be handed out, it can be done during the next interuption. If a red card turns out to be wrong, you could even send the player back in. Of course, this would undermine the authority of the referee to a degree, but it may be worth that price.

Anonymous said...

A draconian measure like a lifetime ban will not work. In the height of competition the last thing a player is thinking about is whether they will get banned for a particular action. Decisions by atheletes are quick and for the most part impulsive, the action of the game is far too fast to take the time to weigh negative consequences.

I think any deliberate handball within the goal box should be a goal is it prevented the ball from going in and a penalty shot if the ball would not have gone in.

Implement goal line replay only.

Any handball infraction in the act of shooting should be a red card.

Yes refs are going to miss things, that is part of sports, how you deal with adversity that is beyond your control. How you adapt and overcome those situations, it is not just about the final score.

Celery Eater

EliRabett said...

You can bet your bottom dollar that if there were harsher penalties imposed there would be a change of behavior. Even so called reflex fouls would go down simply because there would be repetitious training not to commit them.

The post-game review would also cut down on the histrionics, which you could probably also control by insisting that any player who causes an interruption of play by rolling around on the ground would have to leave the field for a few minutes to be medically evaluated.

EliRabett said...

Bans need not be lifetime, they could be for a few games, a month, etc.

Anonymous said...

Eli said "Even so called reflex fouls would go down simply because there would be repetitious training not to commit them."

That would only be the case if they were currently training to commit them. 108 games x 90 mins each (leaving out extra time etc) is a lot of playing time with less than one hands worth of major handball infractions (the news worthy ones as I have not reviewed all those games!).

On the other hand :-) I completely agree with the cracking down on the diving and really like your idea that a player thrashing on the ground writhing in "pain" needs to be removed from the field for at least 5 minutes (10?) for medical evaluation. I think that would cure a lot of this diving we have been seeing.

Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

Football/soccer has become a lot like society. All that counts is result and the end justifies the means.

Take for instance the Netherlands, the country where I'm from. They have always gotten a lot of respect for their approach to the game (offensive, risky football by players with great technical skill), but they have decided they don't want respect anymore, they want a cup. They want something tangible.

And so they have made one of the biggest cowards in Dutch football, Bert van Marwijk, the national coach, and all the players are happy too, because they have forgotten how to play Dutch football, leaving the Dutch competition as fast as their managers could take them, to learn how it's done (get results by destroying the opponent's game) by the big boys in the Champions League, arguably the most boring sports competition in the world.

Clubs like Barcelona and Ajax and every now and then some other club will try to combine attractive play with results, but other than that football has been dead for quite some time. And the World Cup is a joke, except for nationalists.

EliRabett said...

Neven, Djunga was the perfect example of what you are saying, both as a player and a coach.

Socrates was the Brazilian player who, for Eli best exemplified the beautiful game, and for total football, whom but Cruyff.

TokyoTom said...

Eli, I'm all for introducing more technology to review bad calls/non-calls.

However, it seems to me the underlying problem is that so few goals are scored that occasional referee errors matter far too much. In particular, line judges are never in a position to both watch when a ball is kicked upfield and to watch the players upfield, and as a result offsides calls are frequently wrong, and the call or non-call frequently consequential.Too many attacking teams and defending teams are burned. Perhaps some consideration could be given to seeing what happens if the offside rule were suspended on an experimental basis?

Flavius Collium said...

This is all totally silly hand wringing over issues that have been corrected elsewhere decades ago. It's nothing but a completely and totally conscious choice to keep football an unfair and random demotivating "sport". You win by playing by hand and diving and acting. That's the game of football, that's what it is about. If you want a sport that is about ball control, technique, teamplay, shots, striving to be as good as you can, you need something else than the game controlled by FIFA.

Ice hockey has goal judges sitting behind the goals and they have video. In NHL the referee can even call the headquarters in Toronto to make sure all games follow a consistent line. The referee can say it was a goal*, or give a penalty shot** or give a 2 minute or longer penalty to the offending player. Etc etc etc.

Offsides could be 100% removed with electronics and/or video.
Or you could even remove the rule in the first place as it makes the game focus on the wrong thing and makes it more boring. Has this even been tested on a high level?

*: when it is certain that it would have been a goal without some rule violation.
**: when a player would have gotten a breakaway but was tripped or something, so the penalty shot is a pretty accurate recreation of what would have happened if the other team would have played by the rules.