I’ve been away for the last two days – hindered first by a mild concussion (falling on my head while playing football in the rain, no less) and then travelling between cities.
Imagine my surprise then when I turn on the TV at 11 pm and find out that Ghana had hit the Czech Republic for two. No Rosicky magic, no Nedved class, and a first upset for the 2006 World Cup.
Group E was supposed to be a straight shootout between Italy and the Czechs, with the prize for topping the group almost as good as winning the World Cup – avoiding Brazil (expected winners of Group F) in the second round. Suddenly, 3 teams are on 3 points and today’s result, plus the next two matches on the 22nd take paramount importance for the group.
A word on yellow cards, referees and diving. FIFA’s initiative to promote fair play and the subsequent media scrutiny on it has made us much more aware of ‘simulation’ and poor refereeing, but the truth is that FIFA need to improve the decision making system for match officials by allowing the linesmen and the fourth official to ask the referee to rescind yellow cards if the original decision is deemed incorrect after replays.
We’ve had this debate in cricket as well and the only logic I see is that the players and the fans want to see a game that is devoid of any mistakes made in officiating. Granted, somethings are hard to judge (tackles sometimes, some offside decisions), but most are pretty clear after video footage.
By allowing the ref to correct his mistakes within the match you will not only cut down on criticism of the officials but also improve the flow of the game – instead of remonstrating with the ref players would continue, knowing that if the video evidence proved them right the card would be given / rescinded.
This cannot work for penalties, of course. But it’s still a step towards making things better.
Update on the Italy vs USA match – at half-time, the score is 1-1, with each side down to 10 men (a red card each). Will we have 4 teams on 3 points by tonight? That would really throw Group E in a loop, especially as the next round of matches for this group are amongst relative equals – Italy vs Czech Republic and USA vs Ghana.
Stay tuned. Lots of news (since the England match) to cover.