Sunday, July 4, 2010

World Cup refs just not good enough


Spain's Gerard Pique, right, speaks with referee Carlos Batres of Guatemala, third from right, after being awarded a yellow card which led to a penalty, during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Paraguay and Spain at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday.

Aside from the incredible drama of the four quarterfinal games we just witnessed - and it was definitely emotional, theatrical and compelling - I've got to bring up the officiating again. To me, it just hasn't been good enough for the soccer tournament that comes along only every four years. It's made the tournament a bit of a lottery.

When it gets down to the quarterfinals, you have to have the best referees in the world - and we haven't had that.

There are so many examples where the referees have not gotten it right and painfully, no one knows that better than the Americans and English, who both had perfectly legitimate goals not turn up on the scoreboard.

But I'll use the Spain-Paraguay match as a recent example of inadequate and inconsistent officiating at this World Cup. There, a Paraguayan player was given a yellow card after he fouled his Spanish opponent during a goal opportunity in the box. Yes, the referee did award the penalty kick, but he gave the defender a yellow card even though it probably should have been red. And then the referee called back Spain's penalty kick for encroachment - a penalty they scored on - but everyone, everywhere on every penalty kick encroaches. I've not seen a penalty kick called back for encroachment in 25 years. It's a no-call.

And then on the ensuing re-kick, the same referee completely missed the fact that Spain's Cesc Fabregas was pulled down by the Paraguayan goalkeeper. It was clear to me the ref completely lost his head.



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