World Cup, eh?
I really don’t give a rat’s ass who wins soccer’s World Cup. It’s hard to get interested in a sport where they can’t use the body parts that made us what we are—our opposed thumbs—and I’ve mainly been rooting for the teams that have no local population so I don’t have to listen to the winners honking their stupid car horns all night after they’ve demolished the bars.
But I do have one opinion about it worth the time of day: the officiating in the tournament has been so awful it makes the officiating in every other major professional sport look as if it’s done by geniuses. It also makes the the people who run the other professional sports appear to be moral pillars of fair play.
The outcome of about half the games in the Cup tournament, I figure, have been determined by bone-headed refereeing, and the players are clearly aware that they can take advantage of it. In every game I’ve watched, they’ve been making the swan-divers and whiners in professional hockey look like amateurs. The absense of video recall on contested decisions invites game fixing and the whole array of corruptions that accrue to discretionary officiating, and I’ll bet serious dollars that the game-fixing scandal in Italy that’s going to unfold in the next week is directly connected.
FIFA, the governing body in soccer hasn’t seen the need to fix this problem, citing a combination of tradition and an unwillingness to slow the game that would result from using electronic devices to double-check contested calls. That’s pretty lame, and more than a few of my buddies tell me that this is all the proof you need that the fix is in. I saw Italy get past Australia on a bad call, and others who’ve watched more games than I have say that nearly all the officiating mistakes went to the benefit of the teams FIFA wanted to be winners.
I’ll tell you one thing. If the European racketeers aren’t already all over the sport, they better look out for the Las Vegas mob once they spot this one.
367 words, July 4th, 2006