June 19, 2010 2 Comments
As much as I love soccer– and I’ve probably enjoyed watching this World Cup as much as any– certain things about it frustrate me so much. The idea that the referee in a game can disallow a goal and not even have to say why is beyond ridiculous! Is it actually some bizarre American provincialism to expect officials to be accountable for the calls they make? Imagine if a referee had just called a violation against the Lakers in the last 2 minutes of game 7 and he didn’t even have to say what it was for– simply the Lakers did something wrong and it was now Celtics ball. Or an NFL ref simply calling a penalty on the defense giving the other team a key 1st down, yet not saying what the penalty was. Yet, that’s pretty much the equivalent of what happened in disallowing the 3rd American goal against Slovenia. Now, that’s just plain nuts. That’s no way to run any sport. This is not the charm of subjectivity or the human element. I’m fine with subjectivity, but subjectivity without accountability is not a good thing in a supposed neutral arbiter.
I’ve also always thought it nuts that soccer only has one main referee (with two assistants with lesser responsibilities). You’ve got 22 guys covering literally acres of space, and there’s only 1 guy running around with them? Again, that’ just stupid. Soccer is surely the most poorly officiated of sports because of this. It also surely contributes to the culture of dives that is the biggest black mark against soccer.
So, I do love soccer, I just think its a shame in that it could be so much better with some fairly minor changes in the nature of officiating. Accountability and one more field official would not at all change the fundamental character of the game. It would just make it fairer and better.