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Monday, June 19, 2006

Chp 74. World Cup: Red Card!

A collision, a bone crunching sound, a player sprawling on the ground in agony while the other player protested it was a dive, the entire stadium erupting into one continuous sonic boom thundering out louder than Mt. Elba spewing out another volley of molten lava, until the referee dug into his pocket and sternly whisked out a red card. That action detonated the peak of every spectator’s vocal decibel: half of them due to celebration and the other half due to dismay.

Today as I turned the pages of the TOI while sitting on “my throne” with a cigarette in one hand, I happened to glance through the article “Booking Office” on the sport’s section about yesterday’s USA-Italy match. It really caught my attention and after I read the entire article, all I could think of was, who the hell is the correspondent who wrote this article? The credit to that article went to “AGENCIES”. Sometimes freelancers or people not affiliated to any News group would write a review and submit it to the tabloids.

Those of you who saw the match thriller would obviously know that there were 3 red cards handed out during that particular game. And any regular viewer of football will know that FIFA is now stricter than before due to the increasing number of fouls committed during a match. If players lunge themselves dangerously at an opponent and crash at them with no contact on the ball, the referee has the full divine authority to show that player a direct red card.

Yet this writer blasted the referee for “reducing the game to a farce” and that “there was an impression the Uruguayan has lost control”. Bullshit. Referees hand out red cards whenever it is necessary and according to Jorge Larrionada the innocent “victim” of this bloodthirsty (or fame thirsty?) writer, it just so happened to be necessary three times last night (out of which one red was only a result of two yellows). The writer sounds like an amateur football reviewer or wannabe expert or somebody who watched the match with his friends and wrote whatever his intoxicated football crazy friends were blabbering about.

“Although the absence of the three players accidentally created a thrilling spectacle, soccer is all about skillfully creating those chances. It’s not about desperate attempts to hoist balls upfield for tired forwards to chase against exhausted defenders.”

Jesus! Are you for real???? My 12 years old nephew can write a better football review than that. First of all, the three ejections did not “accidentally” create a thrill. A thrill was definitely bound to be created with such an ejection, duh! Secondly, I can’t believe you actually wrote a review on a World Cup match and called the game “soccer”! And thirdly, yes, football may be about skillfully creating “those” chances (I don’t know what you meant by “those” so I’m just assuming they are goal scoring opportunities), but football is also about players following the referee’s decision even though he made a mistake. I’ve watched many matches where the referee or linesmen made a completely wrong decision, but football is all about living with it and carrying on. To err is human. If field referees were removed and a match officiated by an army of referee watching the game on slow-mo TV replays, the decision may be 100% precise but then the game is no longer football. Along with your decision to remove the field officials, you’ve killed the very soul and spirit of football. Football is also about getting penalized for a foul or getting away with it. It’s about ejections and how players adapt to a missing comrade or comrades by adjusting and reshuffling their formation. And yes, “forwards may be tired and defenders can get exhausted”. But they are all trained for that and getting exhausted is also what football is all about and FYI this is the World Cup, the mother of all football matches. If you don’t want to see players go through such a tiring ordeal, maybe try watching school level tournaments instead (but I assure you, even those little kids do get tired). And about your quote on desperate attempts “to hoist balls upfield”, well, this is the first time I’ve actually come across anybody using such a phrase in a football review write-up but then, what can I say: You have a different perspective on the whole game.

“If he has given verbal warnings to the players earlier in the game before he started flashing his red and yellow cards, its likely the fouls that followed wouldn’t have happened.

“Mastroeni was given a straight red for sliding into the ankles of Andrea Pirlo, the sort of challenge that usually gets a caution. Pope received two yellows, either of which would have been avoided with an early warning.

Are you kidding me? So if a referee gave a verbal warning to a player, he’s suddenly going to reform himself right there in the middle of the field and won’t even come close to an opponent for fear that he might have contact with the person? Get real. Football is about getting physically aggressive and at the same time not crossing that thin line between fair-play and dangerous play. It’s about dangerous tackles that are disallowed by FIFA and also about badly timed tackles which can still be penalized even if there was no harmful intent. Simply warning a player isn’t going to change anything, because these players are extremely experienced professionals who rather treat the presence of a referee as somebody managing the entire process and not somebody giving out free gyaans on how to play the game. And yes, there has been many occasions indeed when a player got a straight red for sliding into an opponent’s ankle; you’ll just have to watch more of the game to know that.

Yeah maybe you can voice your displeasure on the referee for being strict because after all, your article seem to have a biased leaning, but criticizing the referee and saying that all the fouls could have been avoided had they been verbally warned earlier, just seemed to pass on a message to TOI readers on how much you really know about the game of football.

I was cheering for Italy initially because somehow, I just don’t support the Americans when it comes to football as the game is not very popular there compared to other sports, and that I believe a Country totally committed to football should be the deserving winner. But all that changed when De Rossi gave that elbow to McBride. Bastard! Such a distasteful sportsmanship. McBride, all bloodied and dazed, had to undergo three stitches and De Rossi was given a straight marching order to the locker room. After that incident, somehow, something in me just couldn’t cheer for the Italians anymore. It was indeed a shameful skulduggery and I would have stopped my subscription to TOI immediately had the “Agency” writer also said that that too deserved to get a freaking verbal warning. But fortunately he/she didn’t complain much about that particular decision. Phew.

When I used to play for school level basketball, we were taught how to treat the referees with utmost respect. We were also taught that referees make mistakes, and that we should accept any decisions they make. I learnt it the hard way when I protested vehemently for a wrong call and as a result got a technical foul. I protested even further and I was ejected from the game. Then came the college level basketball era. Referees transformed from the God like stature to people you would invite for a tea and chit-chat with. They became your equals, a friend who would give you tips on what’s wrong with your fade-away shot or turn around cross over dribble. Soon I got promoted to University District level, State level and finally National level. I even played a match with Sri Lanka’s Mercantile BB Club. In the National level, I locked horns with the big guns like India Bank, Punjab Police, IOB, Railways, Custom & Excise, ICF etc. During my brief stint with the Pros, what I noticed was that, these professional players hardly treat the referees with respect. Some of them would even abuse a referee for a wrong call and still get away with it!!!

So the gist of this whole post is simple. As players become more and more acclaimed, recognized, salary hiked and sometimes snooty, they sometimes tend to treat the referees with disrespect. After all there is a huge gap between their respective fame and salary package. And players will always protest a referee’s wrong call even though his decision is final and there’s no way he’s going to change that. And the players know that very well too. But still they protest. They protest not because of disrespect but rather because it is of human nature to do that. And referees have to live through all that protest from the millionaires around them and stick to their decision. I don’t think this Agency writer have any idea how tough it is to officiate a game and how much of a fitness training and endurance work-out these referees have to undergo inorder to officiate a World Cup match. Most of the defenders run till the half line, midfielders stay between the two D’s and strikers dash from half-line to the opponent’s area, while these referees have to run from one end of the field to the other the whole time, with no substitution. And in the process, they may have made some wrong judgments. Fine, you can show your displeasure, but you don’t have to crucify him for that!

I know, sometimes it’s really hard not to criticize a referee for blowing his whistle unfairly against the team you’re cheering for. I still remember how pissed off I was when Lehman was shown the red card at the UEFA Finals even though a part of me was telling me he deserved that. But to write a review about a match for a Newspaper or News website that everybody reads, one has to be completely unbiased and look at the whole issue with a very neutral perspective. That is what makes a good sports columnist.


flygirl said...

nice one, illusionaire! that review sounds hilarious, is it on-line? it does sound horribly amateurish. who would have thought of the poor blossoms getting tired over 90 mins! so barbaric yaar! the cameras-in-football issue is reminiscent of the great cameras-in-cricket debate of yore. somehow i think the greater immediacy of football (well, compared to the pace of cricket) makes the idea of precision video reffing very unattractive in spite of the many dodgy decisions that occur. and hello, like umpires in cricket, the referee's word, however ugly, is final. and now let us bow our heads and blast Harry Kewell...

Anonymous said...

dude!!!!!!!!!sweet of you to call!muwaah!!!:-)
anyways, I thought that the red card for de'rossi was a sound judgement by the refree. Just cause italians play probably more football than americans doesnt give them a right to play dirty .

I have been the victim of the refree's word too when i was playing basketball. I am not an agressive player, but that asshole gave me four fouls during a very crucial match!But when the refree is partial, do we have a choice???My whole team was pissed, but yeah, the refree's word is the LAST word. In the end you just end up respecting them or abusing them, which ever makes u feel better maybe:-)

Mizohican said...

@ fly girl: Well I searched everywhere in the Times Of India online database, but I couldnt find the web version of this article. I would have definitely posted it here had I found it. Many times the TOI have been blasted for printing really sloppy news, and that its more about commercialism etc... but by far this is the worst sports review I've ever read at the TOI newspaper.

Mizohican said...

@ sowmya: Your welcome dear. Now that you have my number, call me as soon as u land. But I wont be going anywhere tonight because of the Holland Argentina match. We'll party tomoro nite...

Anonymous said...

HAHAH!!! I am dying to read the article of this reporter. TOI you say? I hope my flatmate did not throw away our old papers yet. I never actually scrutinized the article like u did... Can't wait to read it. LMAO.

Anonymous said...

Man thank god it was a tie and we are in the next round:-). Though I was disappointed that ditch didnt score:-x!
Hey do we play against portugal next?

Anonymous said...

God....How do you type out such long posts.... :( Am actually calling you right now...As im typing this...

Anonymous said...

sonam says:

England v Brazil match: Can Happen

It's just before the England v Brazil match. Ronaldinho goes into the Brazilian changing room to find all his teammates looking a bit glum.

What's up?" he asks.

"Well, we're having trouble getting motivated for this game. We know it's important but it's only England They're shite and we can't be bothered."

Ronaldinho looks at them and says, "Well, I reckon I can beat them by myself... you lads go down the pub." So Ronaldinho goes out to play England by himself and the rest of the Brazilian team go off for a few jars.After a few pints they wonder how the game is going, so they get the landlord to put the teletext on. A big cheer goes up as the screen read" Brazil 1 - England 0 (Ronaldinho 10 minutes)". He is beating England all by himself!

A few pints later and the game is forgotten until someone remembers, "It must be full time now, let's see how he got on."
They put the teletext on. "Result from the Stadium ' Brazil 1 (Ronaldinho 10 minutes) - England 1(Lampard 89 minutes)."
They can't believe it, he has single-handedly got a draw against England!! They rush back to the Stadium to congratulate
Ronaldinho. They find him in the dressing room, still in his gear, sitting with his head in his hands.He refuses to look at them. "I've let you down, I've let you down." "Don't be daft, you got a draw against England, all by yourself. And they only scored at the very, very end!" "No, no, I have, I've let you down...I got sent off after 12 minutes....!!"

Mizohican said...

@ anonymous 1: So did you find the copy of the TOI I was talking about?

@ Sowmya: Yeah but over all I must say it was kinda boring, with none of the top players playing... I guess it wsnt worth staying up that long... anyway, yeah now we will be facing Portugal, and then winner of England and Ecuador after that, while Argentina will face Mexico and then winner of Germany and Sweden. I guess we got the better deal after all. hehehe

Mizohican said...

@ anonymous 2: Hi Shubha!!!! :-)
Nice of you to call up and leave a comment at teh same time. You could have atleast signed you know. I really hope you get better sooon and am so looking forward to meeting up with you and ahemz... :-) Take care dear.

@ anonymous 3: Wazzza bro. Hehehe nice joke you posted there. Yeah I've just replied to ur mail. I hardly check my mails these days but will try to be more regular. Love those snaps you sent. She's hot!!!!! Congrats. I really envy you... :-)

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

Review? Want me to write one?

Anonymous said...

Sorry dude. Can't find that copy of the TOI. My flatmate must have thrown it out. Dammit.