What a mess!!

This tournament has now equalled the record for the highest number of red cards shown in a World Cup….and we’re not even at the quarter-final stage yet. There are many factors at play here, FIFA’s clampdown on various sides of law and the referee’s implementation of these rules reigning chief among them.

Prior to this year’s World Cup, all 57 officials were informed of the primary sins that FIFA would like to see punished in Germany. These included the now-infamous ‘lunge’ tackle, taking too long to leave the field during a substitution and kicking the ball away. Petty, I’m sure you’ll agree.

FIFA’s insistence that such fouls - along with others - are seized upon have forced referees to act in an almost unnatural, robotic manner, which has ultimately led to matches being unnecessarily marred by pointless stoppages, bookings and dismissals.

The officials are under intense scrutiny during every match, and with FIFA president Sepp Blatter seemingly ever-present during these finals, they realise that one vital mistake could well be their last in this tournament. Which forces them to go against their instincts and bring play back every time one of FIFA’s nonsensical laws are infringed.

Referees, of course, are not entirely blameless. England’s Graham Poll will no longer officiate at this World Cup after his almost comical error during the decisive game between Croatia and Australia. Croatia’s Josip Simunic was given a second yellow card in the closing stages of the match but, much to everyone’s amazement, Poll failed to produce the resulting red card and Simunic stayed on the pitch.

I repeat though, they are only acting within the guidelines they have been given by FIFA.

Which brings us on to the fiery encounter the night before between Portugal and Holland. Within the first ten minutes, referee Valentin Ivanov had booked Mark Van Bommel and Khalid Boulahrouz and - although these were both justifiable bookable offences - had set a precedent for the rest of the match that he had to maintain.

At the end of the end of the 90 minutes, both teams had had two players sent off.

Ivanov - a man of vast experience who officiated at the 1994 World Cup in America - will be widely criticised for his handling of the match. However, he was given an almost impossible job by two sets of players who, quite frankly, disgraced themselves. A total of 16 cards were shown in Nuremberg that night and every one of them was vindicated in my opinion.

How can you possibly excuse Boulahrouz’s high tackle on Ronaldo (which later forced the winger off), Costinha’s barbaric handball in the middle of the park or Deco’s senseless two-footed scythe on Johnny Heitinga?

Deco’s foul in particular was atrocious and typical of a match that was boiling with tension and frustration. The Barcelona playmaker was soon off however after falling foul to another of FIFA’s pet hates; time wasting.

With the aggressive nature of the game threatening to get out of hand, Ivanov’s job wasn’t made any easier by the embarrassing disregard for professionalism that was been shown by the players. Arjen Robben threw himself to the ground at almost every opportunity he could get, while his teammates Kuyt and Van Bommel also did their best to dupe the Russian official.

It wouldn’t be simulation if a Portuguese goalkeeper wasn’t involved, and Ricardo didn’t disappoint, rolling around in ‘agony’ in the dying minutes after Kuyt’s effort struck him in the midriff. Figo’s attempted head butt on the afore-mentioned Van Bommel should warrant a further investigation, however the veteran winger will probably escape any action as he was booked for the offence.

So, where do we go from here? This is the third match of these finals where at least three players have been ordered off. During an entire league season, it’s rare to see just one game with so many dismissals; we’ve now had 3 out of the 52 games played so far (1 every 17 matches).

The figure of 21 dismissals will doubtless be surpassed before the final on July 9 creating the one record that nobody wanted to achieve at the outset of the finals. However, FIFA have only themselves to blame, enforcing changes when it wasn’t necessary to do so.

The ‘lunge’ that they are so intent on outlawing is the sort of typically aggressive challenge that occurs every week in professional leagues around the world. Now, all of a sudden, it’s a red card offence? Football wouldn’t be what it is if there wasn’t a competitive edge and spirited hunger that went into into every challenge.

This compeition has seen some memorable matches, some great goals and beautiful football. However, I fear the 2006 World Cup will forever be remembered as the one where the players, the officials and FIFA lost control.

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5 Thoughts:

Anonymous

Thursday, June 29, 2006 7:34:00 PM

Such a huge post.. on FIFA...!!! What a Fan...!!

Shayon™

Thursday, June 29, 2006 8:34:00 PM

Hey...may I knw who this is??

sakshi

Friday, June 30, 2006 3:05:00 PM

arre its ME... sakshi.. just din want to do all the filling up of the questionaire..:)

Shayon™

Friday, June 30, 2006 6:57:00 PM

Uhh...ohkay!!

Sarika

Wednesday, July 05, 2006 1:21:00 PM

hi, thnx for the comments. Howz things wid u? Glad that Italy won in the 1st Semis but I doubt its fate in the Finals...i.e with France(probably). Me nothing much...heavy rains so schools n collges are shut. Its absolutely crazy out here. u tc n I do enjoy ur posts. Cheers!