Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Footloose Officiating

I am pleased Germany and Argentina won their recent World Cup matches. I am displeased by the widely broadcast assumption that the faulty goal gifted to Argentina and the authentic one stolen from England “didn’t matter” because the final scores were lopsided anyway.

So this means the disputed goals weren't relevant? Really?

What we don’t know is how much differently the teams would have performed had the disputed goals been officiated correctly. Would a Mexico still tied at 0-0 pressed as recklessly, allowing Argentina to control the ball and put corresponding pressure on the Mexicans' already stretched defense?

How much differently might England have tackled the second half if not for the burdensome knowledge that they had to score A THIRD GOAL just to be credited for the two needed to even up with Germany? Might this partly explain their deflated, dispirited play? We don’t know.

It's not as though the blown calls came at insignificant times either, like in the 89th minute of a 3-0 blowout. In the case of Argentina, it was the first goal of the match, and with England, it came at 2-1, so stand-up refereeing would have meant a tie game. All the more reason these botched calls shouldn't get the "all's well that ends well" treatment. To excuse them as "mere lessons for the future" even though they occurred with the outcomes still very much in doubt ignores the precious concept of MOMENTUM that sports commentators spend so much time prattling about.

If we're going to pretend each moment of each match happens in a vacuum, why have rules at all? Coming to a field near you: Anarcho-footie! You thought soccer riots resembled Valhalla before...

In the end, this all winds up sounding like bad string theory. No, we can't go back and magically replay the games to see exactly what would have unfolded had the goals been judged properly. Of course, we wouldn’t even be discussing magic replays if FIFA had instant replay.

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