Open Holland v Portugal Thread

by Kieran Healy on June 25, 2006

Update: Argh. Sick as a parrot. Topic for discussion: How can the country which gave the world Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, Caravaggio, etc, produce such a supremely cynical, grind-it-out national football team?

Update: This is now the Italy vs Australia thread. Come on Australia!

Because the world cries out: WTF?? I count fourteen yellow cards so far. This is looking pretty good for England.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Σπιτάκι » Blog Archive » GER ‘06 — Αίσχος
06.25.06 at 9:22 pm
Fiddling with the World Cup | Cosmic Variance
06.27.06 at 3:55 pm

{ 152 comments }

1

a 06.25.06 at 3:46 pm

15!

2

C 06.25.06 at 3:47 pm

Maybe 2 yellow cards should only result in a 45-minute ban

3

Cryptic Ned 06.25.06 at 3:50 pm

Qu’est-ce que c’est l’enfer que c’est????

Here’s the front page of ESPN Soccernet, by far the least objective thing I’ve ever seen there:
“Farcical scenes of a referee booking everyone in sight have marred what promised to be a footballing spectacle in Nuremburg. In amidst a record number of bookings, three players were dismissed as Holland battled to equalise a 23rd minute Maniche strike for Portugal. Boulahrouz was sent off for two fouls either side of Costinha and Deco being red-carded, the latter for, frankly, very little at all. “

I propose a do-over of the entire World Cup. Ivory Coast will make it to the semifinals.

4

a 06.25.06 at 3:53 pm

16!

5

jakeb 06.25.06 at 4:01 pm

You know, as an American, seeing travesties like this in the World Cup is a bit of a relief, even though I regret Holland not moving on. That is, the great weakness of the NFL, which is otherwise the best run major sports organization in the US, is the fact that referees are part-time employees, many of whom do not have a complete grasp on the rulebook. This leads to various depressing spectacles of misjudging. To know that this kind of thing happens in the World Cup–the premier example of the world’s sport–provides me with a comforting sense of shared misery.

6

a 06.25.06 at 4:02 pm

Rats, game’s over. So 16 yellow cards (tying the record), with 4 reds (breaking the record).

7

Jon Moyer 06.25.06 at 4:03 pm

Correct this idiot’s analysis: shouldn’t the players be blamed for all the cards? Seems to me the ref was just trying to keep control of a game where the players were getting “chippy”, as they say in hockey. I don’t know what the ESPN announcers wanted the guy to do — ignore all the rough play and shoving?

Or maybe the ref was lousy, too, I don’t know — but my wholly unqualified opinion says that the big screwups are the guys who keep getting cards after it’s clear the ref is calling even marginal stuff.

Hell, I even was wondering why the Dutch coach wasn’t subbing for as many of his carded players early in the 2nd half so that he wouldn’t risk losing the 11-10 advantage on a marginal or bad card…

But it was fun! We even got a head butt.

8

Chris Bertram 06.25.06 at 4:12 pm

FIFA say there were only 25 fouls in the match, apparently.

9

Chris Bertram 06.25.06 at 4:15 pm

… the BBC stats page has 21, 12 fouls by the Netherlands, 9 by Portugal.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2006/5103886.stm

10

Brian 06.25.06 at 4:24 pm

The FIFA match report says that the Portugese committed 10 fouls, and collected 9 yellow cards. Now some of the yellows didn’t correspond to a foul (Figo’s headbutt!, Deco’s alleged time-wasting) so it’s not that they only committed one foul that didn’t result in a card, but still that ratio is quite amazing.

11

alejo 06.25.06 at 4:25 pm

I think #7 is entirely correct, i fount a lost of complaints about referees, yet I still not found a single card that was not justified. In fact a couple of those yellows should have been reds.

12

John Quiggin 06.25.06 at 4:33 pm

If Holland had equalised, extra time could have been enough to see the match decided by forfeit, with one or other teams having too few players to continue. That would have been something to see!

13

Cheryl Morgan 06.25.06 at 4:33 pm

What appears to be happening here is that the referees are under pressure from FIFA to book players for anything deemed dangerous or a professional foul. My guess is that this is a misguided attempt to “clean up” the game. But the effects are inevitable. Anyone who watches the game regularly (not to mention anyone who plays it) could see from the speed with which this ref went to his pocket that a) he was giving players encouragement to dive, and b) that he’d have to keep on giving out cards or he would lose control of the game.

14

Brian 06.25.06 at 4:45 pm

Actually I think the referee did a pretty good job spotting the dives. If anything he was too quick to conclude someone was diving. I think that’s what he thought happened when Arjen Robben got a boot to the chest. It happened outside the ref’s field of vision, and he probably just concluded it was another flop. He wasn’t being quite as quick with booking players for dives as he might have been, or this might have ended up 8 vs 8.

I think Alejo is mostly right about the cards. Figo could certainly have been red carded for the head butt, even if it was relatively light … as head butts go. But the second yellow for Deco was a joke. He probably shouldn’t have picked up the ball, but the referee seemed to book him for not handing over the ball while trying to protect himself from Cocu’s challenge. So perhaps Portugal should have had two players sent off, but not the two that actually did.

I’m assuming in all this that Boulharouz did actually hit Figo when he got his second yellow. Some of the camera angles suggested he didn’t, but Figo did look to have a cut under his eye immediately after the incident, so I’d tentatively go with saying that he did hit him. And there didn’t seem to be much to complain about the Costinha or van Bronckhorst dismissals.

15

Dan Kervick 06.25.06 at 4:58 pm

Correct this idiot’s analysis: shouldn’t the players be blamed for all the cards?

That’s sort of how I saw it too. Although one can argue with several individual calls, both teams allowed the game to degenerate into a series of side battles and personal vendettas, and placed the referee in a very difficult position. It was the sort of meltdown one would expect to see in a meaningless friendly, rather than the second round of the World Cup. It almost looked like both teams had concluded that they have no way of winning the tournament, and decided to commit team suicide in this one game.

On the other hand, Portugal also benefited, I thought, from some fairly outrageous acting jobs and delaying tactics, which heightened the Dutch frustration. So the ref is not blameless.

The Dutch were a big disappoinment to me in this tournament. I thought there was a notable lack of team play, intelligence, leadership and discipline – a thouroughly un-Dutch display. And you have to question the over-reliance on the long ball, especially with a man up. It’s one thing to send long balls into the box to take advantage of a size advantage, but there were a lot of sloppy long passes in the middle half producing pointless turnovers – and a lack of hustle from the Dutch in picking up the free balls.

Van Basten looked shell-shocked today. Is he actually in charge of that crew?

16

Doug 06.25.06 at 5:14 pm

I missed the early bits, but the German commentary after the game argued that one of the first yellows (a fairly spectacular foul in like the 8th minute or so) should have been a red, and the ref would have been much more in control of the game. Tough, fair and prompt.

17

Carlos 06.25.06 at 5:25 pm

Oh, man. That was freakin’ hilarious. I try to avoid soccer, but they had it on at the gym, and I was cackling every time I looked at the screen.

More games like that, please.

18

Dan Karreman 06.25.06 at 5:34 pm

Coming out, since Dan Kervick probably is sick of getting my comments attributed to him. Yes, the ref should probably have been more in control, but it was a price fight in the second half. One of the dirtiest games I’ve seen. And can you believe van Bronckhorst, who gets a red with 1 goal down, 1 man up, and 5 minutes left. It brought us the priceless picture of him and Deco chatting from the stairs, I’ll give him that.

19

tom s. 06.25.06 at 5:45 pm

I thought a hockey game had broken out.

20

P O'Neill 06.25.06 at 6:21 pm

After the USA-Italy match I thought the ref had done a lousy job but upon reflection, that was a harder case to make. Both matches perhaps shared the ref reaching for yellow very early on, and then getting boxed in by worse challenges later. But surely the big story from this match is Figo’s disgraceful performance — he should have already been off the field for the head butt when he playacted to get the Dutch player sent off. The Dutch challenges seemed to get more edge after that transparent (to everyone except the ref) cynicism. One other thing — with Ruud in, the Dutch probably win. They had enough chances.

21

Ben 06.25.06 at 6:46 pm

With #19, the ref made a rod for his own back by giving a few early yellows. He then let some equally bad stuff go, but ended up having to dismiss players in droves.

Of course, the players should take some blame, but I don’t think all of it. It was the ref’s handling that led to things boiling over, imho – when there are cards flying about, people get worked up (particularly if they’re a man down)

The cards for fairly innocuous challenges only encouraged diving – something the Netherlands were particularly keen on. Funnily the ref didn’t seem so quick to book divers, which would have cut that out perhaps. And once some players are booked, they want want to see opponents booked for similar fouls. Ultimately it was bound to escalate.

22

Stuart 06.25.06 at 7:13 pm

I think this has been coming all competition – we have had games with few fouls played in good spirit with 7-10 yellow cards. As soon as you get a game with some diving, playacting and a bit of niggle in it, you end with a fiasco like this.

Timewasting shouldnt generally be yellow card material, they can add the time on at the end if needed – certainly the few extra seconds they are often carding over (which then stops the game for ten times as long while the card is issued) is pointless. Playing after the whistle, kicking balls away, while not something we want to see if you start carding every time it happens rather than giving out warnings to the players to stop it, then you just back yourself into a corner to end up sending off players for really minor offenses.

The players obviously fed off the referees and starting diving, simulating, running minicampaigns to try and get opponents booked and ejected, they feel aggrieved about cards and sending offs they believe they have gained too easily and try and even things up, and it just degenerates.

FIFA needs to get the referees back to having the players earn yellow cards, rather use them as the only solution to every thing they dont want to see in games.

23

jdkbrown 06.25.06 at 7:15 pm

I went back and watched each of the cards, and I thought all of them (with the possible exception of the one to Ricardo) were justified. Deco absolutely deserved his second yellow; players had been warned before the Cup that they would not be allowed to delay opposing free kicks, and we’ve already seen several cautions handed out such tactics.

I actually thought there could have been three more cards handed out: to Figo for the head-butt, to the Dutch player who threw Deco down, and a Dutch player who shoved over one of the Portugese in the scrum leading up to Deco’s first card.

24

Sean McCann 06.25.06 at 7:34 pm

Can someone answer the question of a complete ignoramus? Why is it that only one referee is expected to cover the whole field of play? (I realize there are also the guys calling offsides. Do they do other stuff besides?) Isn’t it possible the officiating would be more consistent if there were more eyes, and legs, staying on top of things? Aren’t all those guys well over 30? Never mind having to see everything. They must be friggin exhausted.

25

P O'Neill 06.25.06 at 8:29 pm

Sean, I thought the ref looked exhausted quite early on in the game — or maybe flush red was his natural facial look, to match the cards he was handing out. But I think they fear that multiple refs would evolve into NFL style consultations after every remotely controversial play.

26

matt d 06.25.06 at 8:43 pm

Hockey finally adopted a 2 referee system, and it works pretty well–each ref gets 1/2 of the rink. They consult on occasion, but it’s nothing like in the NFL. And the sheers distances required would stop football refs from runing over to discuss every call.
Of course, some people hate the new system, but they’re mostly hide-bound traditionalists who can safely be ignored.

27

snuh 06.25.06 at 8:49 pm

prepare to fall out of your chair:

“There could have been a yellow card for the referee,” said Fifa president Sepp Blatter. “He was not at the same level as the players.”

28

Sean 06.25.06 at 8:50 pm

FIFA rules are teh suck. Yellow cards for delay of game when the ref adds stoppage time anyway? Crap. Yellow cards for kicking the ball after the whistle because it affects the game in no way but FIFA is made up of effete losers? Total crap.

The World Cup is still awesome, but screw FIFA’s rules. They should only card for violent tackles where the tackler is going after the player instead of the ball. Period.

AND they should allow unlimited subsitutions like they do in hockey and basketball — you should always want each side to be able to field the best team possible for the situation. Anyone who thinks it’s better to watch skinny marathoners run until they puke is crap.

Show us the goals, bitch. FIFA is dumb — I can’t wait for real football to start in September.

29

Sean McCann 06.25.06 at 10:39 pm

Thanks, p and matt d. I understand jack about the sport, but just watching the last few games it seemed obvious to me that it would be better to have two refs, each responsible for half the field. And, given how controversial the refereeing’s been, would NFL-style consultation really be so bad? (Ok, so no instant replay.) I wonder too if having multiple refs might not in itself help regularize officiating. If you’re the only referee–stressed out and exhausted and feeling victimized–I imagine it’s not hard to get into unfortunate feedback cycles with players or fans. But if you have to operate with the thought that someone as expert as yourself, who you know well and work with intimately, will have a personal incentive to be considering your decisions, you might be more careful–in person review by peers probably being more compelling than either the anonymous, mass mixed emotion of partisans or the untrustworthiness of political hacks.

30

nik 06.25.06 at 11:05 pm

I loved it. If you’re going out of the competition a red or a yellow means nothing. So it’s just not a disincentive. It’s unsurprising that you get really cynical fouls. At the end Holland were one goal down and up against a clock, Portugal were one man (vs. Hol) down seeing shot after shot at their goal and had to hang on. Things just degenerated in the second half. When things are close and you think the other team is cheating to get you knocked out it’ll get heated.

Sean – the assistants and a fourth official (off the pitch) are all wired up to the ref and tell him what they see. But when you’ve a bunch of players standing close together it’s going to be difficult to see exactly what happened from any distance.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this either. Italy vs. the US was ugly, Australia started fouling like mad when they went down against Japan – Italy vs. Oz could be brutal.

31

foolishmortal 06.26.06 at 12:22 am

The ref wasn’t actually that bad: the players were. Van Bommel is a national disgrace, and Boularouz’s (or whatever) tackle on ronaldo bordered on red. That said, Portugal in the 2nd half,and Figo specifically, were odious. They clearly played to start shit and waste time, and the young and ill-tempered Holland side took the bait. Figo’s head butt was a straight red (it was a yellow like a girl can be a little bit pregnant) and his dive was atrocious. Did anyone see an actual cut, or was the stitching part of the drama?
Anyway, I think criticism of the Russian ref is a bit unjust. Sure, he could have shown a couple straight reds, but he was faced w/ two teams primed to cheat and for the most part reacted according to the laws of the game.

32

finnsense 06.26.06 at 1:39 am

What you need is a second ref like a third umpire in cricket. The second ref sits and watches it all on TV and so as not to slow down play, the game can go on while he reviews dodgy fouls and dives etc. If he sees something worth a card, he can tell the ref through the earpiece and he can give out the appropriate card at the next breakdown of play.

This would mean Figo would have been off and the diving would have been punished (since the ref can rarely be sure about that but it’s obvious on replays). Also, players wouldn’t get so upset about cards being handed out because they would know it wasn’t the ref and that the decisions were made based on the best evidence.

33

Ray 06.26.06 at 3:00 am

I blame Holland, for going out and trying to kick Ronaldo off the pitch. If Boularouz had been given red then it might have been a different game, but Portugal were pretty understandably pissed off by that. (Oh, and Costinha’s an idiot)

34

a 06.26.06 at 3:11 am

“Yellow cards for delay of game when the ref adds stoppage time anyway?”

Sure, because the delay of game was to allow his team time to get back in position…

35

nick s 06.26.06 at 3:42 am

i fount a lost of complaints about referees, yet I still not found a single card that was not justified.

The criticism of the referee, I think, hangs on the fact that decisions made towards the end of the first half probably contributed to the cardfest in the second half. I’m with ray/34: the Dutch gambled that they could kick C-Ron out of the game without getting a red, and the ref didn’t have the guts to do it. Combine that with some missed fouls in the ten minutes before half time, and you had the recipe for the second half.

If you’re going out of the competition a red or a yellow means nothing. So it’s just not a disincentive.

The bans carry over to the next qualifiers, and there are also other FIFA sanctions available. Joao Pinto was suspended for clocking a ref in 2002, as was Abel Xavier in 2000.

36

Doug 06.26.06 at 4:11 am

And the linesmen are empowered to call fouls, or at least they were back in the stone ages when that was my part-time job. Hoist the flag and give an arm signal, just like the ref.

Of course it’s their secondary duty, but they play a role in keeping the game under control as well.

37

stostosto 06.26.06 at 5:31 am

Figo should have been sent off for the head butt. It was a very mild head butts as they go, but a head butt is a head butt, and the rules don’t leave any room for discussion. But the Dutchman who received it should have been booked as well for diving so obviously and transparently — waiting two seconds then throwing himself to the ground. Sheesh, the hideously bad acting alone merits a warning.

On the other alleged Figo crime, the alleged dive that resulted in a red card for Boulahrouz: There is nothing there. Boulahrouz clearly slammed his elbow right into Figo’s face. It’s a trick that has become common in top football because it is very hard to detect by the referee. In fact, elbow-to-face was one of the focal points for Fifa’s pre-World Cup instruction of the referees. And rightly so.

Furthermore, Boulahrouz was a disgraceful brute in that game. His foul against Ronaldo bordered on outright violence and the only serious error the referee made in the match was not sending him off right away for that atrocious act.

The Dutch in general were disgraceful. The lead-up to Deco’s first yellow card was a blatant violation of the unwritten fair play rule that after a you concede the ball to the team that possessed it at the time when the referee stopped the play in order to allow treatment of an injury. In this case Portugal was rushing towards the Dutch goal when the referee stopped the play because of an injury to the Portuguese keeper. (Having resulted in turn from an excessive attack by Dutch striker Kuyt — arguably booking material, too). When after the treatment play was restarted by a referee throw, the Portuguese player let the Dutchman have the ball on the understanding that he would kick it out for a Portuguese throw-in — which would be the normal procedure. But the brazen Dutchman simply took the ball and ran with it. That was too much for Deco who rough-tackled the the advancing Dutchman. The booking for this was in order. But the Dutch certainly don’t get any points for fair play. Not on this occassion, nor for the match in general. I am glad they’re out.

38

stostosto 06.26.06 at 5:35 am

Oh, and I don’t think the ref did anything wrong – other than letting Boulahrouz off with a yellow card for his brutal assault on Ronaldo. By far the worst offence committed at this World Cup so far.

39

tina 06.26.06 at 5:54 am

Soccer is a game with rules, right?? I surely would not want to be the referee in the Portugal-Netherlands game.

40

Zaoem 06.26.06 at 6:08 am

Some of the early yellow cards, like the one for Van Bommel, were absolutely unneccesary. The Portuguese were certainly more skilled in the play-acting department than the Dutch: just compare Van Bommel’s delayed drop to the ground after Figo’s headbutt and Figo’s dying swan interpretation when he may or may not have been touched by Bouhlarouz’s hand. The Dutch players got completely out of control in the second half and were no longer playing. They only have themselves to blame for this.

41

Mido 06.26.06 at 7:17 am

Anyone remember a few years ago there were rumours of bust-ups in the Dutch camp, in part over alleged racism in the team? Lo and behold for this World Cup, as the commentators noted last night, Davids, Seedorf and Kluivert were dropped. And did you notice anything shared by each of Dutch the players on the pitch last night? Anything in particular?

42

Zaoem 06.26.06 at 7:31 am

Oh puhlease, that was in 96 and has long been sorted out. Kluivert has barely played the last three years and Davids shows weekly that he is well past his best (Seedorf is another matter). Yesterday’s team featured a player of Moroccan descent (Bouhlarouz) and Indonesian descent (Van Bronckhorst) and the team also features black players Jaliens, Babel, Landzaat, and Maduro. Moreover, perhaps the most noticeable omissions were Makaay, Huntelaar, and Opdam, all white.

43

Dan Karreman 06.26.06 at 7:33 am

#42. They all kicked Ronaldo really hard? Are you suggesting that Davids wouldn’t?

44

Rob G 06.26.06 at 7:54 am

Can we have some more American Football and hockey fans tell us how to improve soccer? Haven’t read any recommendations to abolish offside or increase the goal size yet, but hey, the unlimited substitutions was a good one.

Really, if you don’t care for the game, don’t watch it. The rest of the world is pretty happy with the game as it is. That said, yeah, FIFA has been a mite silly lately.

45

matt d 06.26.06 at 8:50 am

I love football. I have no interest in increasing the size of the goal or changing the offside rule (and isn’t FIFA the one who is always changing that?) I suspect video replay would be a bit of a disaster. Perhaps it could be used, as in hockey, only for disputed goals, but then hockey has more breaks in play and a clock that can be reset.

But surely given that the story of World Cup is threatening to become the officials, FIFA might want to consider some kinds of changes. Other sports react to problems by making small changes, so I don’t see why football should be different.
Unless football is happy with Graham Poll.

46

Richard Bellamy 06.26.06 at 8:52 am

Can we have some more American Football and hockey fans tell us how to improve soccer?

More steroids and ice skates, please.

47

Rob G 06.26.06 at 9:12 am

Well, here’s one argument against the two-ref solution.

In soccer, the ref is God. He/she has the power to alter reality (one hopes not too drastically, or too often), and a smart player understands this. The psychological effect of One Ultimate Authority is not to be tampered with lightly. Also, refs have their own style, which players quickly become accustomed to. Many of the rules of soccer are very much open to interpretation (e.g. the advantage rule), and to have two arbiters on the same pitch would only lead to confusion in the game, and complaints about different application of the rules.

To have someone watching video and essentially second-guessing the ref undermines his/her authority. You can’t really compare refs in soccer to those in other sports (except maybe rugby).

48

Ray 06.26.06 at 9:37 am

Good news – Deco and Costinha will be out (Deco’s appeal is unlikely to succeed) but Figo isn’t banned, and Ronaldo looks likely to recover in time for the match.
England are about to meet a decent team…

49

teppo 06.26.06 at 9:50 am

Wow – how did Italy manage to get such a cushy set of opponents to advance to the final?! (I suppose random draw set all this up).

England – Portugal, a nice match-up indeed though I think England will pull through (they’ll finally start playing).

50

jasper emmering 06.26.06 at 9:52 am

Ivanov is a lousy referee.

I have no problems with lots of cards and lots of sent-offs.

But Ivanov tried to regain control of the game with a zero-tolerance policy that wasted more time than all the stalling by the Portugese put together, and that did nothing to stop the serious fouls. If he had allowed more of the little stuff, the game could have progressed. A goal by Portugal would have locked it up for them. A goal by Holland would have meant extra-time. Both situations would lead to players being more careful about getting carded.

51

Ray 06.26.06 at 10:05 am

Italy had a cushy draw? They had Ghana and the Czechs in the group stage, and they’ll play Germany or Argentina in the semis (probably)

52

a 06.26.06 at 11:00 am

“Italy had a cushy draw? They had Ghana and the Czechs in the group stage…”

Not to speak of the US, WHICH WAS THE ONLY TEAM TO TIE THEM. ;-)

53

Ray 06.26.06 at 11:05 am

Hmm, no, they kicked them, slid into them, kneed them, and pushed them around, but they didn’t tie them up….

… oh, I see what you mean.

54

teppo 06.26.06 at 11:25 am

OK, I take that back (Italy’s cushy road), though only in small part. I think Italy’s group was VERY, VERY cushy, and the slated matches against Australia (a soccer powerhouse?) and either Ukraine or Switzerland should be easy [theoretically anyway, just now watching the Australia match and they may lose] – but yes semifinal will obviously be tougher.

One the whole though, should they make the final, Italy certainly would have had comparatively easier opponents.

55

Ray 06.26.06 at 11:29 am

I’d agree with you about Australia and Ukraine/Switzerland, but not about the group stage – most groups were much easier than that.
Everyone else following in the grauniad?
http://football.guardian.co.uk/worldcup2006/minbymin/0,,1788421,00.html

56

teppo 06.26.06 at 11:51 am

Wow – Italy barely squeaks through – way to sell the foul (which it was clearly not) in the box. A cheap win.

57

Rob 06.26.06 at 11:52 am

Italy dives for a win.

58

Kieran Healy 06.26.06 at 11:53 am

Arrrgh.

59

Filter 06.26.06 at 11:55 am

We won.

60

Ben Alpers 06.26.06 at 11:57 am

You can always count the Azzurri for cheap, cynical soccer.

61

Jamie 06.26.06 at 11:58 am

I was watching on Univision: “Un robo, es un robo.” Yes it was.
The degree to which bad officiating influences the game is turning me off soccer.

62

Aidan Maconachy 06.26.06 at 12:02 pm

Moral victory to the Aussies! They outplayed the Italians all the way.

That was no penalty – no way in hell! The defender went for the ball the attacker tumbled over his body. It wasn’t a malicious tackle at all.

Shoddy win.

63

P O'Neill 06.26.06 at 12:03 pm

Why was Guus holding back the subs?

64

Rob 06.26.06 at 12:05 pm

He didn’t tumble. He dove. He could have gotten to the ball, but instead dove over the man.

65

Steve LaBonne 06.26.06 at 12:09 pm

I don’t care about soccer, but I had to comment on Kieran’s surprise that Italians would be cynical. In other news, the Pope was recently accused of being Catholic. Shocking.

66

Sam 06.26.06 at 12:09 pm

Grosso dove. Neil was guiltless. I wish someone would cripple these refs to keep them from f’ing up these games.

67

Kieran Healy 06.26.06 at 12:11 pm

I had to comment on Kieran’s surprise that Italians would be cynical

I’m not shocked, it just demands explanation.

68

Sam 06.26.06 at 12:13 pm

By cripple I mean with a bat…cricket, baseball, I don’t care. I know that’s wrong, it’s only a game, but I ache for some kind of retribution, some punishment for ruining this soulful sport. FIFA won’t do it. What can we do? How can we salvage this tournament from these officiating atrocities? How?

69

Doug T 06.26.06 at 12:21 pm

After watching the replay, I think it was an iffy penalty call but don’t think it was an obvious dive. The Italian had beaten one man and was stumbling, but was still able to play the ball around the Aussie defender who was inexplicably lying down on the pitch instead of standing up to play defense, but was unable to avoid him and was tripped up. He sold it to be sure, but he was tripped up by the prone defender.

The only question I have is about the status of a defender on the ground, and whether they can be flagged for a penalty or whether they’re considered a natural obstacle that it’s the attacker’s obligation to avoid.

70

abb1 06.26.06 at 12:22 pm

Were the Italians talking on cell-phones while playing?

71

Aidan Maconachy 06.26.06 at 12:26 pm

Two points here.

First – this is what the Italians do routinely. When they are down and desperate, they don’t GO FOR GOAL … they work on devious opportunism.

The other point is that the ref was Spanish. Doubtless he refs euro games during the year. If he HADN’T given the penalty his life wouldn’t have been worth living … and don’t think the Azzurri weren’t aware of his vulnerability to pressure on that point.

It was a calculated heist.

I agree Grosso dove – he tried for “the appearance of tumbling”.

I hope the Aussies appeal this. It was a fucking disgrace.

72

Doug 06.26.06 at 12:27 pm

I’d call it dangerous play; it’s an indirect free kick, but not (iirc) a penalty. There’s no intent, and plenty of drama (surprise!) from the diving flying Italian striker.

73

Rob 06.26.06 at 12:29 pm

It was a penalty. Neil went to ground, and there was clearly contact: perhaps contact that could have been avoided, but obviously contact. If you don’t want to give away penalties, stay on your feet in the box. And whoever went to Grosso on the edge of the box had already tried to pull him back. Also, I understand the Materrazi card was a bit harsh, although I’ve not seen it yet.

74

Rob 06.26.06 at 12:30 pm

Finally, the Australians aren’t allowed to be good at any more sports.

75

Aidan Maconachy 06.26.06 at 12:30 pm

Absolutely right Doug – an fk for sure.

76

teppo 06.26.06 at 12:31 pm

I don’t know – the last few matches have been VERY frustrating (portugal v. holland was a complete joke) – I hope we have better soccer in store.

77

Aidan Maconachy 06.26.06 at 12:35 pm

Rob when it’s involuntary contact as a result of legitimate play it’s up the damn ref to use his discretion in the call. The dangerous play in this case wasn’t Neil’s perfectly legitimate tackle – it was Grosso’s blatant and opportunistic diving!!

78

belle le triste 06.26.06 at 12:40 pm

didn’t caravaggio murder someone? plus michelangelo never washed

79

belle le triste 06.26.06 at 12:41 pm

if reffing were perfect football would be less truthful

80

Doug 06.26.06 at 12:45 pm

74, 78: Not to get all technical, but I was just reviewing FIFA’s Laws of the Game. (Unlike other games, that get away with mere rules, soccer has Laws.) Here’s the first bit of Law 12:

A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following six offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

* kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
* trips or attempts to trip an opponent
* jumps at an opponent
* charges an opponent
* strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
* pushes an opponent

A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following four offences:

* tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball
* holds an opponent
* spits at an opponent
* handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area).

And more of Law 12:

An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player, in the opinion of the referee:
* plays in a dangerous manner
* impedes the progress of an opponent

I’ll put the URLs in another post, so this one doesn’t get held for editing.

The classic whistle for dangerous play comes from a player trying to stay in the play while on the ground. That’s not far from what happened here. The Australian put himself down on the field (admittedly, a silly way to play defense) and tried to get back up again.

I didn’t see tripping or attempting to trip; and what contact there was came from the Italian running over the Australian who way lying on the ground. It’s dangerous play and an indirect free kick.

81

Doug 06.26.06 at 12:47 pm

Law 12 is here.

The rest is on the next page.

82

Aidan Maconachy 06.26.06 at 12:50 pm

Hear! hear! I second Doug’s call.

83

Zaoem 06.26.06 at 12:51 pm

No way that was a penalty, it wasn’t even close. Thought the red card was harsh too.

84

~~~~ 06.26.06 at 12:52 pm

“Didn’t caravaggio murder someone?”

He did. But not over a football game: “on May 29, 1606, again in Rome, during a furious brawl over a disputed score in a game of tennis, Caravaggio killed one Ranuccio Tomassoni.”

85

belle le triste 06.26.06 at 12:56 pm

i think you’ll find tennis evolved into football in the wake of this brawl, as a result of over-broad attempts by officials to improve the disputed scoring system

86

Aidan Maconachy 06.26.06 at 1:00 pm

I have seen more agro in the box in English Premier games that failed to result in penalties.

It was because this was ITALY – the gods! And the penalized mere froshmen in yellow who talk funny. Not as though the ref will have to deal with angry Aussies chucking boomerangs as he does the rounds in the euro leagues.

87

a 06.26.06 at 1:46 pm

I’d just like to repeat something I said in the Italy-US thread a while back: there are too many soccer matches decided by calls or non-calls of the referee.

I think this explains (partially!) why soccer is more appealing to Europeans than Americans. (Bear with me!) Europeans are fatalists – they accept a sport where the outcome is not determined by how well one plays but by an outside authority. Americans believe in self-determination, that a man creates his own destiny.

88

novakant 06.26.06 at 2:03 pm

of course that was a penalty -
he clearly went for the man and not the ball

89

seth 06.26.06 at 2:04 pm

I love how any criticisms of soccer BEFORE the Italy-Australia penalty (which looked like a trip on my TV) are whining about the officials, purportedly from hockey or football fans – odd, considering the suggestion of an extra ref was analogized to cricket – and AFTERWARDS, moderate, temperate folk argue for changing how officiating is done by “crippling the officials” without suffering similar snark.

Shameful.

90

mijnheer 06.26.06 at 2:15 pm

“Europeans are fatalists – they accept a sport where the outcome is not determined by how well one plays but by an outside authority. Americans believe in self-determination, that a man creates his own destiny.”
Rubbish. Americans believe that God controls everything. “Praise the Lord! Everyone else in the trailer park was killed by the tornado but He spared me!” American athletes are always crossing themselves, pointing to the sky, thanking the Lord for helping them. The U.S. is the most god-ridden, flag/state-worshipping anthill country in the world.

91

jakeb 06.26.06 at 2:22 pm

This very recent degeneration reminds me of a passage in Vine Deloria’s _God is Red_. He was talking about some of the things said by prominent Christians, in particular a comment made by Roger Staubach, the (admittedly great) Dallas Cowboys quarterback of the 1970s, about how one can look at life as if it were a football game, and being a Christian puts you in good field position. Deloria added “Unfortunately, it is not clear whether a touchdown or field goal is required to win the game.”

92

Richard Bellamy 06.26.06 at 2:27 pm

“Unfortunately, it is not clear whether a touchdown or field goal is required to win the game.”

No. I’d be happy with either. What is unfortunate is that so many players are just going for the safety.

93

nick s 06.26.06 at 2:29 pm

The Aussies were robbed, but it was a predictable theft. (What, you mean that you didn’t expect the Italians to go down like sniper victims every time they got into the box?) Hiddink’s boys should have upped the pace and got something by then. If you concede from throwing men forward, then you concede. But pace was always going to decide the outcome.

94

jdkbrown 06.26.06 at 2:32 pm

Clearly a penalty. It looks like the Aussie was just lying there only in the slow-motion replay; if you watch it at full speed, the defender clearly slides in front of the Italian and gets nowhere close to the ball. Now, the attacker perhaps could have avoided contact and gone over or around the slide, but avoiding the contact isn’t his responsibility, it’s the defender’s. And sliding in–even if you’re trying to get the ball–can count as “attempting to trip.”

That said, I’d rather have seen the Italian keep his feet and go to goal; I think he would have scored anyway. The ref made the right call, but the attacker *made* him make it–and that’s a bit of cynical play.

95

joel turnipseed 06.26.06 at 2:41 pm

Well… hate to piss on anyone’s parade here, but the Aussies didn’t deserve to win this one. Their lack of creativity/pace when up a man for half an hour was dreadful to watch. And when, with a minute left in extra time, the Italians went on the attack, they dominated the Socceroos. I think that call could have gone either way (I thought it was, in fact, a foul), but even if the call was a bad one I found it hard to feel bad for the Aussies on that account when they gave me so little to cheer for early on.

96

Kramer 06.26.06 at 2:57 pm

In reply to a above…

I’m not sure whether the NBA finals are an ‘american’ sport but it seemed pretty clear to me watching that the series in general, and at least two games in particular, turned on changing the conception of what it meant to foul someone when it came to Dwayne Wade.

In at least one game Wade shot more free throws than the entire Dallas team. To me this seems at least on par with any officiating mishaps seen in the World Cup so far.

97

Aidan Maconachy 06.26.06 at 2:59 pm

Joel that’s a bit harsh.

The Aussies bloody dominated the ball and staged a number of inventive attacks. Where I do agree is on their finishing. They seemed unable to execute. But then Ronaldo looked like a waiter on prozac during his earlier somnambulistic outings.

I thought the Aussies had flare and pizzaz – not half bad when you’re up against the vaunted Azzurri.

One thing I do know for sure, at some point this year that Spanish ref is going to be treated to dins dins. Tagliata alla Griglia, accompanied by a bottle of Valpolicella, and none of your schlock either … Bertani at the very least.

98

Sam 06.26.06 at 3:03 pm

Somebody wrote above: “Clearly a penalty. It looks like the Aussie was just lying there only in the slow-motion replay; if you watch it at full speed, the defender clearly slides in front of the Italian and gets nowhere close to the ball. Now, the attacker perhaps could have avoided contact and gone over or around the slide, but avoiding the contact isn’t his responsibility, it’s the defender’s. And sliding in—even if you’re trying to get the ball—can count as “attempting to trip.”

By this logic, it’s impossible to dive if a defender makes any contact at all on an attacker. If the attacker declines to make any attempt to arrest his fall if a defender brushes against him, then the onus is on the defender? That’s bullshit. If this position is supported by the rules, could someone point it out to me?

99

Sam 06.26.06 at 3:09 pm

By the by, “bullshit” may be a bit harsh. Instead, let’s say I disagree with the judgement.

100

P O'Neill 06.26.06 at 3:22 pm

Judging from Ukraine-Switzerland, an instruction to curtail the issuance of yellow cards has already been received.

101

vanya 06.26.06 at 3:56 pm

Kieran,

Luigi Barzini explained why Italians are so cynical in his book “The Italians”. Italy is quite possibly the most cynical country in the world, even surpassing challengers such as Russia and Israel.

In football, as in life, Italians are masters at the meta-game, not just the game on the field. The Aussies never had a chance.

102

Dan Karreman 06.26.06 at 4:11 pm

Australia was outfoxed. The Italians were attacking like madmen the last five minutes, creating an opening for this kind of event. Very naive move from Neil. Of course it was a penalty (Totti scored from it). Social psychology also says it was a penalty (attacking player down in penalty area + clumsy defensive move + a soft red card for attacking team = penalty in most ref’s minds). The indirect free-kick argument does not understand the social psychology of the situation. Moralists probably disagree whether it was a penalty or not (australophiles denies intent from defender, latinophiles wonders what the defender was doing on the ground in the first place). Sophists thinks that Grosso made a beautiful argument that certainly looked convincing. Football is pugilism, as we saw yesterday, but it is also art. And social psychology. Italy knows that football is social psychology and art (Hiddink knows, too, remember 2002) and Grosso fell convincingly. Grosso performed. Totti performed. Case closed.

103

novakant 06.26.06 at 4:15 pm

If this position is supported by the rules, could someone point it out to me?

forget the attacker it’s all about the defender and the ball: if the defender tackles without any chance of getting to the ball (even if it’s an unintentional by misjudgement on his side) and thereby hinders the attacker in his advance (and it doesn’t matter if he could have ‘gone around’ the defender, you just can’t simply block someone without going for the ball either) then his actions are judged as a foul because he wasn’t going after the ball but after the man

if this happens outside the penalty area, you get a free kick, if inside you get a penalty, it’s pretty simple really

cheers

104

james 06.26.06 at 4:34 pm

Let me get this straight. The Italans are allowed to throw the first defender to the ground and thats ok. If they fall over the second defender its a foul. In the US v Italy game it took blood for the Italians to get a red card and all the Americans had to do is make incidental contact. It is tough to respect a sport that credits taking a dive.

105

teppo 06.26.06 at 4:34 pm

Wow – that first penalty attempt by Switzerland – the worst I have seen!

106

pp 06.26.06 at 4:41 pm

Shut out on pk’s. And it wasn’t the goaltender that did it. Don’t see that a lot.

107

moriarty 06.26.06 at 4:47 pm

So Switzerland didn’t allow a goal all tournament…and they’re going home. Well done.

108

luci 06.26.06 at 5:09 pm

From a novice fan, for those claiming incompetence by the refs: Are the refs normally better at discerning the fake dives from real fouls? And are there an inordinate number of fake flops in these games?

I’ve been disappointed by the flopping in the WC, but watching the recent NBA (Nothing But Actors) season, I’m not surprised. The refs there seem unable to tell the difference between foul and flop, but as a spectator, in real time, it seems fairly easy to call a higher percentage than the refs get (which you can test by the subsequent replay). Dunno what’s up.

109

Filter 06.26.06 at 5:22 pm

Somebody forgot that Nicolò Machiavelli is also from Italy.

110

Thlayli 06.26.06 at 5:39 pm

American athletes are always crossing themselves,….

Every Catholic player in this event is crossing himself. That’s most of the Brazilians (some are evangelical), almost all of the Argentines (all except Juanpi Sorin), all of the Spanish, all of the Portuguese, &c.

111

jdkbrown 06.26.06 at 5:46 pm

“By this logic, it’s impossible to dive if a defender makes any contact at all on an attacker. If the attacker declines to make any attempt to arrest his fall if a defender brushes against him, then the onus is on the defender? That’s bullshit. If this position is supported by the rules, could someone point it out to me?”

Well, no: not all contact is a foul. But a player is under absolutely no obligation avoid being fouled. I’d say that in this case, the Italian could probably have avoided being fouled but didn’t.

112

Neil 06.26.06 at 9:55 pm

No way it was a penalty. BUT we didn’t deserve to win; first the red card was harsh (and without the man advantage we wouldn’t have given them such a hard time); second, we didn’t look all that threatening even with the extra man. If you can’t get a goal in 40 minutes of sustained pressure, you don’t deserve one.

113

Aidan Maconachy 06.26.06 at 10:20 pm

Yes Thiayli … crossing-of-self has been almost epidemic in the World Cup. I even saw one player genuflecting in the general direction of His Celestial Majesty. As yet no evidence of players prostrate in the direction of Mecca.

The oddest of all are the Ghananians. Clutches of players stage impromptu prayer meetings after games on bended knee. After their last win, one impassioned fellow ripped open his soccer shirt to reveal a t’shirt beneath emblazoned with the face of a white Jesus … of a type you used to find in illustrated tracts from the Victorian era … essential reading that was distributed by the Salvation Army to urchin children. Another Ghananian kept flashing an Israeli flag with pentecostal fervour. Maybe they are all members of a neo-juju cult with evangelical leanings.

It gets even weirder. I saw a BBC documentary last week on the influence of magic in African football. The roving reporter went to S.A. and Senegal and filmed games of footie that were more like wars between rival magicians. In Senegal the teams go through various magical rites in the changing rooms prior to games, including washing in “magical water”. They secretly carry “muti” powder onto the pitch in their closed palms and then sprinkle it on the pitch during warm up to enhance their luck. Muti is also applied to the goal posts, and can be counteracted to some extent apparently by dousing the posts with urine (which one goalie was actually filmed doing).

The film maker followed a team from Senegal around, and when they visited an opposing team’s stadium, each player was hustled from the team bus to the changing room draped in a cloth, lest local spirits interfere with their luck.

It was a bizarre trip into the surreal world of “the voodoo leagues” and well worth watching.

114

derrida derider 06.26.06 at 10:39 pm

The low scoring is what makes the results in soccer so capricious (depending on referee’s whims, etc). And of course people tend to confuse caprice and destiny, so its not surprising that they look to their gods.

On the Aus vs Italy match I’m another Australian who thinks we didn’t deserve to win this match (yes, the penalty was marginal but so was the send-off. And we failed to exploit it). Not that that’s a criticism of our team – they’ve played with the traditional Aussie mental toughness, but in truth they were mostly playing more skilled teams in this tournament.

Oh well, we’ll just have to deal with our loss in the traditional way – taking it out on the poms. Roll on the Ashes!

115

dale 06.27.06 at 1:45 am

72: correct. this is what the italians do. hence the fact that juve will almost certainly soon be relegated (serie B!)for cheating along with the punishments handed out in italy.

74: contact doesn’t imply penalty. there’s regularly contact in legitimate tackles. the question is usually one of whether the ball was played before the contact was made, and if yes, which direction the tackler came from (behind is illegal). if the ball wasn’t played, then interpretation takes over, and it’s generally decided on a combination of (a) local situation things like: the degree to which the attacker was actually impeded, the degree to which they collaborated in their own obstruction (that is, could they have played on, could they have evaded, etc), the intent of the tackler, the extent of the injury to the attacker, etc, and (b) global situation things like: whether the tackler was the last man before the keeper capable of preventing a goal, how certain the attacking threat was, where other players were and whether the attacker (if remaining upright) had lost the ball or could still get to it.

italy cheats. always have. no idea why.

refereeing: the legitimate use of indirect free kicks in the box has waned. refs seem to be thinking they have to choose between ignoring stuff and awarding penalties. allied with fifa’s clamp-down on diving, it becomes a case of choosing between carding the payer for diving and carding a player for fouling, in a situation that the (because of the speed of play) is practically a coin-toss for the ref, who has no idea what happened. i see this as symptomatic of loss of subtlelty and intepretation. personally, i think it’s unavoidable – the game has got faster and more professional than it has ever been and one old retired gent refereeing is hopelessly inadequate. when stan matthews and referee were the same age, and shared a common understanding of the game (more or less) they could engage each other on mututal ground, and thus lot more leeway opened up by agreement. this is no longer possible. the game should be refereed by a 4-man panel from the sidelines, and calls referred to the guy onfield, whose job it it to provide linkage between decisions and players.

116

dale 06.27.06 at 1:59 am

novakant:

“forget the attacker it’s all about the defender and the ball: if the defender tackles without any chance of getting to the ball (even if it’s an unintentional by misjudgement on his side) and thereby hinders the attacker in his advance (and it doesn’t matter if he could have ‘gone around’ the defender, you just can’t simply block someone without going for the ball either) then his actions are judged as a foul because he wasn’t going after the ball but after the man. if this happens outside the penalty area, you get a free kick, if inside you get a penalty, it’s pretty simple really”

this is exactly the lack of subtlety i was referring to. most dives in the box occur when the attacker either draws the tackle deliberately knowing that the penalty is a likelier goal than the cross, and makes the ball go away as the tackle arrives, while collapsing acrobatically. or they are in the flow of the attacking run, when the ball bobbles out of reach and someone poor fool tackler is incoming. more often than not it’s the second type, because the ball, at speed, is often lost control of. in the latter case, the tackler may well clatter the striker (or merely make contact and induce a swoon) but the striker no longer had a chance of getting to the ball – it spun off the grass, skidded in the wet, or hit a bump. rewarding a sloppy tackle in a *dead* postion with an almost certain goal is a) dumb, and b) generally what strikers are trying to achieve and c) contrary to the idea of refereeing, which is ensure that the game proceeds fairly.

the rules allow for free kicks in the box, too. it’s not an automatic penalty, just because of the location of occurrence.

117

dave heasman 06.27.06 at 3:08 am

“As yet no evidence of players prostrate in the direction of Mecca”

The Saudis did in the Tunisia match. The Tunisians didn’t.

118

stostosto 06.27.06 at 3:09 am

I don’t see how people can honestly state things like “no way that was a penalty”.

The Aussie defender, having inexplicably thrown himself to the ground prematurely, stretched back to hinder Grosso’s advance. He even put out his elbow! It’s a free kick in the penalty area, ergo it’s a penalty.

Another thing is I personally would have found it more satisfying if Grosso had kept his balance and scored a straight goal.

On the other hand, provoking penalties by skilfully dribbling past your opponent and then deliberately tripping over them is a time-honoured art in football. And not just among Italians either, nor just on the top level. It’s part of the game.

And just to be clear, the fact that attackers deliberately provoke defenders to foul them doesn’t eliminate the foul. When done right, there is nothing to discuss — the tackle comes too late, leaving the attacker the choice between a cumbersome manoeuvre to avoid falling throwing him off balance and likely resulting in losing the ball, or simply demonstrating the foul by letting himself fall.

119

Doug 06.27.06 at 3:38 am

“Social psychology also says it was a penalty (attacking player down in penalty area + clumsy defensive move + a soft red card for attacking team = penalty in most ref’s minds). The indirect free-kick argument does not understand the social psychology of the situation.”

Except that the “social psychology” is wrong. The “soft red” is irrelevant.

Games are not brought back under control by balancing a bad call with another bad call. (Just look at Portugal-Netherlands for the latest evidence.) They are brought back under control by a whole bunch of right calls, chips fall where they may.

I think dale’s got a good point about indirect free kicks, and not just in the box. I don’t know if I’ve seen any this tournament, and that’s too bad. The refs need all the tools in their toolbox (and one for each half is not a bad idea at all, though the clock could become an issue) to keep the game as fair as possible.

120

Dan Karreman 06.27.06 at 4:32 am

Doug, you are clearly a moralist. Empirically speaking, “attacking player down in penalty area + clumsy defensive move + a soft red card for attacking team = penalty in most ref’s minds” is very well corrobated – it happened between Italy-Australia, it happened between Germany-Sweden, it happens almost everytime. The reason is of course social-psychological. It is almost as refs look for an opportunity to even out their decisions. You can call it wrong in the moral sense (and in some sense be right) but you can’t call it wrong in the empirical sense.

You can of course change the social psychology by, for example, introduce technology that facilitate refereeing. Personally, I’m moderately for it – a goal camera would probably be a good thing – but I would be against it if used for red-card and penalty situations on the grounds that it breaks the flow of the game (and there will always be contested decisions anyway, like this penalty and red card).

121

belle le triste 06.27.06 at 5:10 am

now the tournament has a proper full-on villain whose defeat alone will restore the honour of FIFA* — it is become a STARK MORAL DRAMA and thus a better thing, esp.as the villain is no pushover, but forceful and subtle

*haha ok this is pushing it i know

122

dale 06.27.06 at 8:28 am

dan said:

‘Empirically speaking, “attacking player down in penalty area + clumsy defensive move + a soft red card for attacking team = penalty in most ref’s minds” is very well corrobated – it happened between Italy-Australia, it happened between Germany-Sweden, it happens almost everytime. The reason is of course social-psychological. It is almost as refs look for an opportunity to even out their decisions. You can call it wrong in the moral sense (and in some sense be right) but you can’t call it wrong in the empirical sense.’

you can’t call it right or wrong in the empirical sense, you can only say it happened or didn’t. the empiricial sense is not an adequate guide, and the argument from empiricism supports anything, on the simple grounds that it occurred, which completely nullifies the idea of having a referee at all. since events occur to players as well as referees, why not just have players and events on the pitch? if they occurr regularly enough, we’ll accept them.

doug might be a moralist, but he’s neccesarily a moralist in analysing football, for the simple reason that the game itself is moral – it abides by a rule structure, penalises deviation from the rules, and attempts to minimise unfair advantage through the medium of rules interpreted by a referee. the moment the concept of fairness is introduced, you have a moral system.

as an example of this, take pierluigi colina, widely regarded as the best referee of the last few decades. he was extremely comfortable taking a ‘moral’ stance, and handled the game that way, identifying attempts to prejudice the game early on, and talking the players out of it. that failing he punished heavily and directly, and brooked no dissent.

123

Rob G 06.27.06 at 9:24 am

Why are the Italians cynical? They’ve housed the papacy for most of the last couple of thousand years. That’ll do it.

Historically, I think the Argentines have been just as cynical and prone to cheating. I’m holding back judgement on the current crop.

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previously pre 06.27.06 at 12:07 pm

Is it just my computer’s eccentricity, or did this comment thread fall of the edge of the preformatted earth at around comment #82?

125

Kieran Healy 06.27.06 at 12:22 pm

woah … looks fine on Safari, but Firefox is a disaster.

126

Ref 06.27.06 at 12:44 pm

“On the other hand, provoking penalties by skilfully dribbling past your opponent and then deliberately tripping over them is a time-honoured art in football. And not just among Italians either, nor just on the top level. It’s part of the game.”

Indeed, and it is called diving. If the player has the option to continue the play or to fall to the ground, no penalty should be given if he opts for the latter.

127

yabonn 06.27.06 at 2:05 pm

… And now France-Spain.

Old Bastards vs Young Turks, both team playing the “conserve the ball” game.

The french are sooo pissed off i wouldn’t write them off, even if reason is for Spain.

128

pp 06.27.06 at 3:51 pm

Yes don’t write the French off yet because it looks like the ref is on their side!

129

yabonn 06.27.06 at 3:51 pm

France 3 1 Spain

Fuck yeah.

The niggers salute you, Luis Aragonés.

130

a 06.27.06 at 4:13 pm

Yeah the Italians can’t teach anything to Thierry Henry, who fouled Spain *and* then took a dive, hiding his face (presumably so no one could see that he was laughing). Absolutely replusive. And this is the “beautiful game”?

131

Thlayli 06.27.06 at 4:16 pm

Another Ghananian kept flashing an Israeli flag with pentecostal fervour.

He plays for Hapoel Tel Aviv.

132

yabonn 06.27.06 at 4:33 pm

who fouled Spain and then took a dive

And then France scored on the following kick, iirc. It’s bad, ok.

But overall there were 3 french goals vs 1 spanish penalty kick. The spanish team was more beautiful to see, but just couldn’t score.

133

Filter 06.27.06 at 4:38 pm

Somebody forgot that Henry played in Italy. With Juventus!!! Damned Italians, they spoiled him.

134

a 06.27.06 at 4:43 pm

“But overall there were 3 french goals vs 1 spanish penalty kick.” Without the dive there wouldn’t have been the 2 french goals. Indeed, at that point, Spain was having the better part of the contest.

Again, I’ll repeat my point that too many soccer matches are determined by bad decisions or non-decisions by the ref. Europeans don’t mind, because it’s their nature not to mind. Europeans think of life as something which often gets f*ed up by someone external; soccer is exactly like their view of life. Americans have this idea that an individual controls his destiny, and this is most definitely not World Cup-soccer.

135

belle le triste 06.27.06 at 7:45 pm

it’s not someone external, it’s something external — referees aren’t people!!! they’re more like unexpected weather or tricky terrain

the european perspective is thus reality-based

(“life is neither fun nor fair” is how my mum used to put this — the fact that football makes an unendingly renewable drama of this fact is why it’s a SPORT, rather than some mere lame contest of skills where the “best players” boringly win and we all feel good about ourselves)

136

a 06.28.06 at 2:19 am

“the “best players” boringly win…”

Well actually no. Take baseball, ALCS 2003. Boston had the better team and the better players. But the manager, out of respect to his ace pitcher, let Pedro Martinez stay in the game too long. The Yankees win. Now *that’s* drama – defeat earned because of mistakes one commits oneself.

“… and we all feel good about ourselves…”

Yes well you’re a bit of a snot aren’t you? France got through because one of its players cheated. That’s life, you sigh. No, that’s life as it’s taught in France. GO BRAZIL!

137

dale 06.28.06 at 2:45 am

on the henry thing: i didn’t catch the replays – how much of henry’s free kick was play-acting. when i saw it in real time, it looked like puyol barged him, in panic, and then henry made the very most of it, falling down struck blind. my understanding was that henry faked for the yellow card, but that the free kick was legit? was i wrong?

138

stostosto 06.28.06 at 3:20 am

#127:

Indeed, and it is called diving. If the player has the option to continue the play or to fall to the ground, no penalty should be given if he opts for the latter.

There is a difference between diving when there is nothing to dive about and diving when your opponent is late with his tackle. Often the attacker will have the option of continue the play in the latter case, but often he will also have been slowed down and/or lost balance. Hence it’s a foul. In that situation the diving, as I said, goes to demonstrate the foul. True diving is when no foul is committed in the first place.

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a 06.28.06 at 3:21 am

I saw it just one in replay. What I saw was *henry* grabbing puyol and then falling down.

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stostosto 06.28.06 at 3:27 am

Henry’s play acting was disgraceful. Reminiscent of Rivaldo’s against Turkey in 2002.

Henry played an awful match through and through. About 15 times off-side and nothing to show for it. I don’t know why the French have him playing forward instead of letting him play holding like he does in Arsenal.

Zidane, by contrast, did brilliantly. And Ribery, who outshone them all.

Spain were a disappointment.

141

dale 06.28.06 at 4:00 am

“spain were a disappointment”

thought so too – i rooted for spain, as so many times before, and they really ought to go through, one fine day, but they choked again and failed to score goals. zidane and ribery were both magic. henry…well. he cheats. and especialy when things don’t work for him or his timing goes off – first he start bitching at other players and then the professional misdemeanours begin.

so the consensus was that puyol was innocent? pity then.

even so, spain lacked finishing.

142

yabonn 06.28.06 at 4:03 am

France got through because one of its players cheated.

At that point i was about to say it’s a rather silly thing to say, but then you made clear where you come from :

that’s life as it’s taught in France

Whatever, expert.

143

stostosto 06.28.06 at 4:23 am

“how much of henry’s free kick was play-acting”

I thought the free-kick was legit, but Henry then childishly, disgracefully, feigned having been hit in the face. He deserved a booking for that performance, at least. And he deserves the general contempt of the footballing world.

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belle le triste 06.28.06 at 5:53 am

a i was only teasing you a little: i think your proof of american moral superiority is funny, especially when i’m watching US wrestling

one of the things i like about football is that it allows for the possibility that OVERT AND CYNICAL VILLAINY — such as is being denounced all up and down this thread — gets its righteous defeat on the pitch (rather than warded off in advance by more rigorously robotic reffing); but for this to be reach operatic scale, it has to advance through a sequence of arguably disgraceful minor results, featuring the sacrifice of well-meaning but not up-to-it unlikely rough-diamond champions of idealistic virtue

145

a 06.28.06 at 6:52 am

belle: no problem belle, I have a thin skin! Mind you, I didn’t under your last paragraph at all…

146

dale 06.28.06 at 8:27 am

it is a pretty bizarre paragraph…

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Rob G 06.28.06 at 8:57 am

I think Belle’s writing about the Portugal-Holland game. It was rather operatic, but the mikes didn’t pick up the arias very well, and I’m not sure who the “champions of idealistic virtue” were.

#145, Henry’s usually fairly sporting. Save your contempt for more worthy recipients.

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stostosto 06.28.06 at 10:33 am

“#145, Henry’s usually fairly sporting. Save your contempt for more worthy recipients.”

I wasn’t talking about how Henry usually conducts himself. I was talking about this particular, contemptible, incident. What he “usually” does has little bearing on that. In fact, you might say he took advantage of whatever sporting reputation he might have in order to cheat and deceive so much the more effective. He is worthy of all musterable contempt.

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JakeBCool 06.28.06 at 1:24 pm

So I have the impression that the course of about 5 of the 8 second-round games were perverted by bad calls or tolerance of bad behavior. More? less?

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Rob G 06.28.06 at 3:06 pm

“He is worthy of all musterable contempt.” OK, I’ll try and shift over a bit from Bush to Henry then.

But seriously, I think all available soccer contempt should be focussed in a laser-like beam at the near-crippler of Cristiano Ronaldo (Dutch guy – Boula-something-or-other). And I say that as an England fan who would welcome CR’s absence.

Jake, definitely less, if you mean other-outcome perverted. My guess, maybe 2, which is par for the (perverted) course.

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stostosto 06.29.06 at 5:24 am

“I think all available soccer contempt should be focussed in a laser-like beam at the near-crippler of Cristiano Ronaldo “

Henry is worthy of contempt. Boulahrouz is worthy of a criminal court trial.

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Asad 06.30.06 at 4:24 pm

Hey does anyone have a picture of deco, van bronckhorst, and whoever the third guy was sitting on the stairs. Thanks

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