There have been many controversial goals and goals disallowed by the FIFA officiating referees and their assistants in different tournaments. This is known as poor officiating in this game of round leather we all love. Football or soccer, the undisputable most glamorous game in the world is round so is the universe. Almost every human being loves this game; even elephant, dolphin and other animals know what to do with football.
The bad news however is the state in which the game is right now. Poor officiating may be killing soccer. And FIFA, the sole organizer of football events seems to be taking the issue of bad officiating lightly. Many unpardonable errors have occurred in different tournaments like Champions League, National Leagues, Challenge Cup, Regional Cup and even World Cup. The just concluded 2010 world Cup in South Africa in which poor officiating almost marred the June/July fiesta should raise serious eyebrow.
It has been alleged several times that FIFA referees have committed errors in the cause of their officiating duties; serious errors that have untimely sent many football lovers to their early grave. Call this an exaggeration if you like, but I guess those relatives who have lost loved ones in this respect will understand my argument.
Although these errors are fast impeding the development of the game, it seems Sep Blatter and his cronies are indifferent to this issue. The 2010 world cup has exposed FIFA’s incompetency regarding officiating. I shall provide examples before the end of this article. Obviously if nothing is done to curb bad officiating, we might be witnessing a sad situation whereby football lovers would gradually lose interest in this most spectacular game in the world. God forbid!
Examples of poor officiating abound. Where should one start? Koman Coulibaly disallowed Maurice Edu’s 85th-minute goal that would have given the USA a 3-2 lead over Slovenia in the group stage of 2010 world cup. The Malian referee ruled that Michael Bradley of USA had impeded a Slovenian defender, even though video replays showed no infringement. Although he was sanctioned by FIFA, the team in question never got the point back.
According to reports, Wolfgang Stark, the referee in the Argentina versus Super Eagles match was severely criticized by FIFA's referee's committee for allowing the goal in which Walter Samuel's obstruction led to the build-up of the goal. The Argentines won by that margin which seriously affected the Nigerian side. For, if the game had ended in a draw, Nigeria despite its woeful performance would have qualified for the second phase.
By not allowing England’s equaliser against Germany in their quarter final encounter in which Frank Lampard’s lob clearly a foot behind the line is another evidence of how FIFA is killing the game in disguise. “Frank Lampard’s lob over the goalkeeper struck the crossbar and fell 18 inches behind the goal line. Neither the Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda, nor his linesman, was sufficiently up with the play to award it,” writes Rob Hughes in South Africa.
Fans and spectators could not believe their eyes regarding such inexplicable decision. “The performance by FIFA referees during this world cup is pathetic,” says one angry fan. “The dumbest referees I’ve ever seen are in this world cup,” quips another. Are referees allowed to disallow a clear goal and get away with it? For that is what it is: a clear goal that went behind the line. It was an awful decision as far as I am concerned.
Even Argentine Carlos Tevez’s opening goal against Mexico was from a blatant offside position. No wonder FIFA admitted the mistake of replaying it. FIFA has since apologised to Mexico. But, what about other errors not apologised for? Ivory Coast for example has demanded apology too. And just imagine that controversial handball by Thierry Henry, allowing him to pass the ball to William Gallas who scored against Ireland during the qualification!
During the Nations cup in Angola in January, the South African FIFA referee in a match involving Egypt and Cameroon awarded a rebounding free kick that did not cross the line to the former, spoiling a match that could simply be described as scintillating. And who can forget that famous or infamous “hand of God” during the 1986 quarter final world cup against England in which Argentine Diego Maradona’s first goal was an un-penalized handball.
Thus it has become a joke among football lovers that each team plays against 14 players, the extra three being the referee and his two assistants. FIFA must do something to prevent this anomaly if actually it wants to preserve this wonderful game. There must e a standing rule to reverse the result of any game found wanting. Any keen football follower would notice that most of these errors usually occur from goals scored or disallowed at offside position, handball or reckless tackle in the box.
Whilst some errors by the referees are innocent, many have been attributed to match fixing like what happened In Italian Serie A where some clubs were sanctioned for conduct unbecoming of football officials, players, coaches, organisers and so on and so forth. Does FIFA mean Famous In Failure Absolute?
In this age of information and communication technology, it is disturbing seeing how blatant errors from the referees are slowly killing this wonderful game. Such errors often give impression that FIFA secretly allows cheating in soccer. Until after this world cup, FIFA had strongly opposed to using video replay back. If FIFA had allowed such technology to be used, that case of Henry, England second goal against Germany, Argentina goal against Nigeria and many other would have been reversed immediately.
Moreover, FIFA can ban offside as this particular rule is causing a lot of controversy in almost every match. Two assistant referees should be added making four altogether. FIFA should change the existing rule for a player who deliberately handle ball in the goal line as in the case of Uruguay player who became a goalkeeper to prevent Ghanaian last minute goal during one of the quarter finals. In the future, it should be counted as goal in addition to other punishments. More importantly, video technology should be used. Tennis and rugby are already ahead in this regard. Let’s Blatter and his comrades be more serious regarding football rules. Stop killing soccer in disguise.