10 days in and for me the World Cup’s already delivering an amazing mix of excitement, despair and as of this morning renewed disgust at the sports antiquated ways. Watching Stevie Gerrard slot home after just 5 minutes of England’s opener while my one month old son sat beside me on the 3am sofa ranks without question among the top 20 moments of my life, Robert Green’s howler 36 minutes later certainly took the shine off a little but hey as an Englishman I’m genetically prepared to deal with disappointment and despair on a football pitch so nothing to dampen the spirits too much there. Spain stumbling, France going on strike & England’s calamities one after another all generate hours of friendly banter and the tournaments still in its infancy !
So Ffwd to this morning and my observation / moan for the day, Game 29, Brazil v Ivory Coast and after 88 minutes a clear and glaring example of all that I see as wrong with the beautiful game. Already on a yellow, Kaka received a second card and was dismissed to the dressing room after Abdelkader Keita seemingly walked into the Real Madrid player and promptly threw himself on the ground clutching his head as if he'd been three rounds with Mike Tyson, this even a cursory glance of a TV replay shows simply to be an act of fiction and without question a lie. Whatever you want to call it THIS IS CHEATING and something much to the boredom and annoyance of all those that sit near me at work I’ve been harking on about for years. If Tiger was caught moving a ball in a bunker when he thought no one was watching or if Glenn McGrath had been found with sandpaper hidden in his pocket then what would the world think and how would we react ? I'm sorry Drogba, Ronaldo & today Keita but your professional sports persons too and the same expectations of fair play should also be expected of you. UEFA, FIFA & even the FA continually rebuff attempts to incorporate technology into the game, their stance of “The referee’s decision is final” is admirable but in 20 10 sadly very much out of date. I agree that we don’t want to follow the American model of stopping the game every 10 seconds for video replays of minutia but for game and tournament deciding moments then I don’t see the problem with taking 30 seconds (about the same amount of time Keita interrupted the game by in rolling around on the floor in mock agony) to double check the tape and finally get it right. The RFU have successfully adopted a video referee in Rugby who can be called upon should those on the pitch be even the slightest unsure about a decision of significance and it seems to work great, as an unexpected by product at times it even seems to raise the excitement of the crowd and audiences as the “Try” or “No Try” decision is pending. Bad decisions and professional cheats destroy more than games, they can effect the outcome of entire seasons, cost millions and millions of dollars to innocent victims and destroy the pride of nations for 4 year periods at a time.
So what to do about questionable judgment calls ? Referees have a ridiculously hard job and they need all the help they can get, a fourth or fifth official with video on demand from 27 angles who’s called upon once or twice a match by a referee who’s humble enough to admit that he can’t perfectly monitor and digest all 8,625 square yards of turf simultaneously can only be an easy and 21st century resolve to the decades old problem of questionable calls.
And what to do about the epidemic of cheating ? This is so simple I can’t for the life of me think up a counter argument that holds water… If a TV replay that’s studied by the FA, UEFA or at the World Cup FIFA shows that a player like Keita deliberately cheated in an attempt to have an opposition player sent off then whether he succeeded or not any forward looking penalty to the victim should without question be rescinded (Kaka will currently have to miss Brazil's next world cup game), the manager of the cheat must be forced to write a public apology to his opponents team and the cheat himself must be banned from his next 10 competitive games. Unveil this rule tomorrow and the plague that’s destroying the beautiful game will cease before the quarter finals.
Come on England !!!