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6/19/2006 02:59:00 AM
Lay off Larrionda
Jorge Larrionda issues Pablo Mastroeni a red card in the first half of Saturday's game.
Posted by Gabriele Marcotti
FRANKFURT, Germany -- Memo to Bruce Arena and everybody else ready to crucify Uruguayan ref Jorge Larrionda: Do a bit of homework before stepping on the pitch.
There is a parallel competition at the World Cup, one which doesn't feature teams, but referees. First place is officiating the final or, at least, going as far as possible. And the way you do it is by pleasing FIFA. Pleasing FIFA means interpreting the Laws of the Game EXACTLY the way the people who run FIFA (read: FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter, Spain's Angel Maria Villar Llona and Brazil's Ricardo Texeira, president and vice president of the Referees' Committee) want them interpreted.
Had the U.S. kept this in mind, had somebody told them that Blatter himself was up in the stands at the Fritz Walter Stadium in Kaiserslautern watching Larrionda's every move in the Italy vs. U.S. match then, perhaps, the Americans would have behaved a little bit differently on the pitch and gotten the three points their heroic efforts warranted.
There is no point debating whether Pablo Mastroeni's late tackle on Andrea Pirlo should have merited a red card. It was late. It was two-footed. It nailed Pirlo squarely on the ankle. According to FIFA's directives -- clearly laid out to referees and teams before this World Cup -- that kind of tackle is a straight red. Period. It doesn't matter one bit whether that's fair or not. It matters what FIFA says. And, before the game, they made their position extremely clear. Anyone with a bit of gumption would have understood that -- particularly with Blatter watching -- Larrionda was going to apply FIFA's directives to the letter.
The same applies to Eddie Pope's booking. Arena said after the game that it was harsh, that "Eddie [Pope] says he got the ball." Well, it doesn't matter that he got the ball. It matters that he got the man, too, and it matters that he was guilty of persistent fouling throughout the game and that Larrionda clearly warned him. Here too, FIFA's directives (which are far more detailed than the Laws of the Game) are crystal clear.
A modicum of common sense would have helped. Pope must have realized that, time and again, Larrionda was calling fouls against him. At that point an experienced defender such as Pope should have seen that it was time to defend differently, otherwise he would simply continue to get nailed by the ref. Instead, he did not change his ways one jot and, predictably, was sent off.
Brandishing the Laws of the Game and screaming bloody murder, as a portion of the U.S. press has done, lies somewhere between the futile and the idiotic. The World Cup isn't run based on the Laws of the Game, it's run based on FIFA's interpretation of the Laws of the Game, which is an entirely different matter altogether. Those three guys -- Blatter, Villar Llona and Texeira (the rest of the refs' committee are basically there to warm seats) -- decided beforehand what was a foul and what wasn't. What's more, they made it very clear to everyone, including Arena and the U.S. team.
From FIFA's perspective, Larrionda made very few "technical errors." Daniele De Rossi's brutal elbow on Brian McBride was spotted and punished with a straight red (and will probably be followed by at least a four-match ban). DaMarcus Beasley's goal in the second half was rightly ruled out because McBride's offside position was clearly interfering with play (he was in the goalkeeper's sightline and lifted his leg to let the ball run past). And both Mastroeni and Pope had to go, albeit for different reasons.
The rest of Arena's accusations are rather empty. Yes, bigger teams do often get the benefit of the doubt from the officials (in every sport). But right now, with Italy's representation within FIFA decapitated by the domestic scandals and powerbroker Chuck Blazer flexing his muscle on FIFA's Executive Committee, the U.S. can hardly claim to be underrepresented in the corridors of power. And yes, some Italy players went down easily (NEWSFLASH: Landon Donovan sometimes goes down easily too), but that's soccer today: Players get away with as much as they can.
Every team in the World Cup can learn something valuable from the Italy vs. U.S. game. The lesson is that, particularly at this World Cup, understanding how to play the referee is as important as figuring out how to play your opponents.
Thank you for publishing this note. I hope it spurs on the right type of debate. I am not so much concerns with the calls in the Italy v. US match, but would add that the challange by Pope was actually two footed, the first catching the ball (but not really clearing) and the second hitting the Italian in the back of the legs to make him fall. This has to a yellow, the position of the Italian was dangerous and the intention was to gain advantage outside of the rules. I mention this play, because it is an example of what defenders do to gain advantage and no one seems to talk about it. The only concern in the main public is people exaggerating fouls or diving, which I agree is not right and not good for the game, but no worse than cheap shots from defenders, which happens all of the time. The other day Ayala was going up for a header and anticipating Kezmen and decided to knee him in the thigh on his way up. This was very hard to see except for a replay becuase everyone is focussed on the head ball. Ayala did want I think most defenders at this level do. I do not mean to single him out, I love him and root for Argentina. But this attitude hitting someone when the reff cant see, is no better than an attacker diving and can have as much impact. Defenders hold, push etc. to gain advantage but try do so without drawing attention. That to me is the same as a dive, no better, no worse. In terms of exxagerating fouls, people do this for several reason 1) to make sure the foul is called, 2) to give the other player a card. We have to realize that all players are trying to get every advantage they can, and it is really difficult for the refs to catch everything going on. I think in terms of diving and cheap fouls, unless obvious to the reffs should be viewed in video and have the players punished (fairly severly) the only way to make change is to change the balance of advantages and disavantages.
The officiating has been relatively consistent - most games have been called too harshly. In the example of the US-Italy game, 46 fouls were called for the entire game - but there were only 9 called after the 50:00 mark. Unless I missed it, Eddie Pope received a straight red card - I did not see a yellow shown to him before the red booking. There is a considerable difference between a double yellow and a straight red. (Correct me if I'm wrong here.) With how aggressively the entire game was played, I think a lot of stuff was let go in the latter half of the game.
While FIFA means well in trying to tighten the game a bit and protect the players, their interpretation of the Laws of the Game is beginning to destroy the game. Forty-six fouls! With 37 of them coming in the first 50 minutes, that's like stopping the game every 80 seconds. How can that be beautiful?
Marcotti makes a good point - sort of. Yes, maybe the ref was "technically" correct, but that doesn't mean he was at all consistent. Was Mastroeni's the worst tackle of the game? Far from it - players on both sides committed far worse. Mastroeni even hit the ball BEFORE the defender - it's really hard to call that a red card offense, unless you're LOOKING to give someone a red card. Was Pope's second foul a yellow? Not unless he was willing to give a yellow for similar tackles to each team, which he obviously didn't do. The ref did the worst thing a ref can do, and that is make himself bigger than the game. Rather than letting two teams duke it out and realize his role just to keep things fair, he interjected himself unnecessarily in a way that harmed both teams and the game itself.
Now, I don't think there is a conspiracy against the US, but Italy definitely got the better of the calls. Sure, there were a few iffy off-sides that went against the Italians, but the 2:1 ratio of US to Italian fouls is laughable. The offsides was a good call, but no one is mentioning the obvious handball on an Italian defender in the 2nd half. It may have been accidental, but he still gained an advantage by slapping the ball up with his forearm. It should have been a penalty.
The bottom line is that Larrionda did a terrible job in that game. Maybe the US should have somehow figured out how he was going to call the game, but regardless, they got the raw end of the deal. Referee ratings consistently prove that the better refs call the fewest fouls and give the fewest cards. Larriando is a long way from being a good official...
Anyone else notice that there seems to be more fouls and yellows outside the penalty area, but the refs are hesitant to point to the penalty spot? I've only watched maybe 1/4 of the games, but the refs seem to call 'em tight until the act is committed in the penalty area, where they seem leniant.
Lots of comments in the other daily blogs about the severity of the calls in the field, so I won't repeat that here. But in the penalty area, the Aussies hacked a Japanese forward in the second half in the penalty area, no call. Drogba of CIV was physically held across his chest 3 times by the Dutch, no call. Those are the most obvious that I recall (through bleary eyes). Any thoughts from those watching other games? Can anyone compare the WC officiating to the EPL, La Ligua, or the Bundeslegia?
What's not in question is whether they deserved to be carded. But to give them straight red cards is utterly rediculous. Not to mention at one point the USA had four times as many fouls called against them during the game when both teams were laying into each other. I think it was a little one-sided to say the least.
I agree with Marcotti that Pope should have changed tactics in response to all the foul calls and that Pablo's tackle deserved a red. But the argument that the referee called the game differently because Blatter is in the stands "watching every move" is ridiculous. With the amount of scrutiny already on every match, Blatter's actual physical presence matters not a whit. And to even suggest Arena is to blame for not recognizing Blatter was in the stands and then jumping to the conclusion that the game would be called more tightly is just as ridiculous. (Now Bruce's decision not use a final substitution for an exhausted team is a different story...)
I'm not buying that McBride inhibited Buffon's view of the Beasley shot. Buffon layed out to his left as soon as Beasley took the shot and he simply couldn't get to the shot because it was too good.
If McBride had touched the shot, then I would agree that the offside call was correct. But, by the way Buffon reacted to the shot, it didn't appear to me that his view was at all affected by McBride.
Two other questionable calls that aren't being talked about:
How about the hand ball in the box by the Italian defender that wasn't called? He raised his arm and clearly changed the path of the ball. That has to be a penalty by the letter of the rules of the game, no?
And how about Pope's first yellow? The Italian forward was pulling on Pope's jersey big time. If Pope deserved a yellow, then didn't the Italian as well? I mean, didn't FIFA say that they wanted to crack down on jersey pulling?
But honestly, who cares?
What's done is done and the US outplayed the Italians even though they were down a man for pretty much the entire second half.
Hopefully Italy plays better on Thursday verus the Czechs.
I think many in the US (including the tv folks) have overreacted to the reds. However, that some people have overreacted doesn't mean that Larrionda nailed the game.
It seemed to me that there were two chief problems with the reffing. First, a couple cards early seemed soft. I've seen very little in the way of verbal warnings to players; the first warning is a card, and often for fouls that seem undeserving of cards. The end result: second yellows/ejections for some players that seem unwarranted by their play.
Secondly, he wasn't consistent. The drop-off in fouls for the last third of the game could be the result of players pulling back due to the cards and calls previous, but that doesn't explain a number of fouls that went uncalled on both sides. You'd almost have expected given the early part of the match that there'd have been two penalty kicks: the judgement-call handball in the Italian box, and the shirt tug by Conrad in the American box.
Sorry for the long post. Ultimately I think you're right that people have overreacted, but I think there was still something to react to in the referee's performance.
I'm from Brazil, and saw your blog accidentally. Some of the comments seem to be made from people that never played football at all. In football, fouls that are punished more harshly are the ones that can injure the rival player. You can grab an opponent from his chest all day long, and that's not going to hurt him. So, this is hardly a situation when anybody is going to see a yellow card, unless the player was about to score. But the play where the american player saw the direct red card was a really dangerous one. A slightly different angle or weight behind the impact could have broken one or more bones in the italian player's ankle. So, it's no so much about the strict interpretation of the "written rules", but the spirit of the game. If you foul someone in a manner that you can severely hurt him, you have big chances to be expelled, no matter how much you can argue about rules.
The referee made himself bigger than the game? The yellows and the reds were not fair? C'mmon, the US clearly went inta a "war" (as they said before the game) and shouldn't be surprised to get two players sent off with the amount of tackling they were doing, they just simply destroyed the game, if the foul ratio was 2:1 against the US, it was because they clearly tackled more and played more aggresively. In fact I was surprised that the double yellow on Pope didn't came earlier, he (and the whole US team) were giving fouls left and right, they should be more worried in playing clean than blaming the referee for something they just brought on to themselves. I don't root for Italy and also hate their players acting on the field. I actually wanted the US to win this match, but instead of trying to win in the first 50 minutes, they were more worried in intimidating the italians and avenging mcbride than actually playing. The fact that less fouls were called after de 50 th minute is because de cards were effective in diminishing rough play. The referee was average throught the match but the US can only blame themselves for their sent offs. Both were deserved, especially Pope's, probably the second yellow was harsh (but correct) but he was warned well beforehand with a deserved yellow and still after that was tackling too aggressively left and right, he lost his head. This comment is from a neutral fan, and really, you really saw the US show its true spirit after the 2 sending off, they realized its about playing, not tacklin. Hope the US advances (not that I got anything against the Italians, but the US showed great spirit, even after it had brought all its misfortune onto themselves)
I agree that players who have already received yellow cards need to be more careful, realizing they are one step closer to expulsion by an additional yellow. I agree that players like Pope and others continue to make reckless tackles/plays when they already have yellows, and this is their fault for lack of common sense.
However, Mr. Marcotti's comments seem to be off the mark. Basically, "don't blame the refs, they're just doing FIFA's bidding." The bottom line is that the game is being ruined. FIFA's new guidelines are inadequate, and they, along with the unthinking officials, are ruining games by sending people off through "technically correct" calls.
If FIFA were to come up with more asinine guidelines to supposedly benefit the game (all players must keep their shirts clean through the first half or face cards), and some dumb official is willing to just "follow orders" while ruining an otherwise decent match, I would blame both FIFA AND the official.
I don't care if calls are "technically correct". I want to see a game not overly influenced by rules and Nazi officials trying to assert their authority. Such practices will indeed hinder the popularity of the game.
Perhaps the game needs "orange cards", which would provide a way to expel players without overly hampering the team - a player receiving an orange card would be ejected, but teams could sub in for him, losing one of their available subs.
I agree with Marcotti. Jorge Larrionda has come under scathing criticism from the American media, but I'm not sure it was fully deserved.
Daniele De Rossi's straight red is beyond dispute. A vicious elbow to the nose of Brian McBride that drew blood. A straight red, no ifs, ands, or buts.
Pablo Mastroeni's straight red seemed a little bit harsh to me. Watching his tackle in live play on Andrea Pirlo, I though it was a clear yellow. But watching the replay, it was a late tackle with studs up that clearly had the capacity to injure Pirlo. Based on the replay, I could see justification for a red, although I believe a yellow card would have been more appropriate given that the tackle was late (and not too terribly late at that), not malicious. And as everybody and their brother knows, a referee who has already doled out one red card is especially prone to dole out another to the other team to even things up so you must be careful to avoid presenting him with an opportunity to do so.
The sending off of Eddie Pope for two yellows, to me, was absolutely the right decision. Pope deserved both yellows. The ESPN tandem of Dave O'Brien and Marcello Balboa bemoaned the fact that Larrionda did not give Pope one more chance and one more warning following the foul on Gilardino, but it was a badly timed and badly executed tackle from behind, a textbook yellow card.
All in all, I think Larrionda was correct to send off two players (De Rossi and Pope) and had a colorable argument for sending off the third (Mastroeni). To the extent he is being criticized for those decisions, I think that the criticism is unfair. However, he does deserve criticism for being too strict and too card happy from the outset. A more laissez faire attitude would not have kept De Rossi or Pope in the game, but it might have benefited Mastroeni, and it certainly would have improved the flow of the game. I appreciate referees who take control of a game when it looks likely to get out of hand, but I like to see referees let the players play and refrain from reaching into the front pocket every time a foul is committed.
Seriously, there have been dozens of fouls throughout the tournament that have been worse and received either a yellow or no card at all. Consistency, that's what we are looking for. We didn't have it in this game, and we certainly don't have it in the tournament.
Larriondo was awful. He was entirely fooled by the Italian diving and what was Totti given the yellow for? He was inconsistent long before he got card happy. Any official who has to send off three players has clearly lost control of the game. Even if I were not a US fan (and frankly, my club team means a lot more to me than the national team) Larrionda should not be allowed to referee another match. You are usually a better writer than this. To defend a ref who so clearly lost the respect of the players and ruined what should have been a highly entertaining match is beneath you.
Thank you for once again living up to the fact that Italians are sore losers. Italy was outplayed and the only thing that kept them in the match was the one man advantage. Perhaps you should have mentioned that Larrionda had been suspended in the past for irregularities and was banned from the previous World Cup. With quality refereeing like that, its a miracle the USA was allowed to come out with the tie.
Mr. Marcotti, this is the World Cup, not Serie A!!!
While I agree that the cards given out were technially correct. Even upset as I was to see them come out, I had to agree that they were warranted. I still think the ref did a bad job because he clearly did not have control of the game. That's what a good ref does. He talks to the players and lets them know how the game is going to work. Pope needed to be a little smarter and so did mastroeni. The US needed to play physical to have a chance with Italy. But when you play physical you have to play smart. The calls were technically correct according to FIFA's interpretation of the rules so you can't fault the refs there. But I blame the ref for not controlling the game as he should. Instead he let it turn into an ugly match. And the refs in this entire tournament have been much too quick with the yellow cards in general. Did anyone see Zidane's yellow in the game against South Korea? Now one of the greatest players in the world is gone for his team's possible elimination match after he barely runs into a South Korean player. And the Netherlands might not play half of their team because of fear of getting a second yellow card and missing the first game of the next round. Is that what you envisioned FIFA? Also I can't blame Italy for flopping as much as I hate to see it. They clearly understand how the game is going to be called by the refs where everything is a foul and nearly everything is a bookable offense. If you don't want people to flop, don't reward them with fouls. If they keep getting rewarded they are going to keep flopping. That's playing smart.
I wonder if FIFA's decision on the rules has anything to do with traditional powers having a poor showing at the 2002 Cup. Clearly tighter foul calls usually favor the more skilled and better teams. It's not that they get more calls, which they probably do, but it's that the lesser teams are often beat and need to foul. Or may not need to foul, but do accidentally. I'm not trying to cry conspiracy, just thought I'd throw that out there. I'm sure it has more to do with trying to avoid injury or something like that. But soccer is a physical game and sometimes you just gotta let the players play.
At the end of the day anyone who has ever played soccer or basketball or any other sport realizes that you have to adjust your game to how the ref is going to call it. Blaming a game on the refs does no one any good. Ask France.
FIFA eliminated the "pink" card after the 1970s (the one preceeding the yellow), and that was okay. it made players less prone to commit stupid and violent acts on the pitch. Players should know that any bad infraction after a yellow card is toying with a expulsion. so I agree with Mr Marcotti that Pope's card was legit. The one on Pablo, that is another story...it gave you the feeling that the referee was waiting for something like that to happen to red card an American...just look at the Ghana / Czech Republic game...if the same referee were there, Ghana would have been left with six players or so at the end of the contest... and the hand ball in the penalty area should have been a PK... the man was flat out lousy, and one would be surprised if he will be in any future game.
I am a lifelong American soccer player and fan. This weekend, it pained me to watch the US-Italy game. I was pained not because my team took the brunt of some horrible officiating, but because whether you argue those calls to be right or wrong, it became obvious to me that professional soccer will never be fully accepted into the American culture.
If a sport has only one major world championship every four years and a team can not only have a player ejected but be forced to play with a man down for a foul that is not flagrantly dangerous, that sport is doomed to irrelevance in America. To eject a player AND to force a team to play a man down (or two) on the world's largest stage for those fouls - are you kidding me? Whether the calls were technically correct or not, I don't want to think about the number of Americans who rolled their eyes and laughed at what I'm sure they perceived an incredibly "whiney" sport.
Add to that the embarrassing dives and cries of pain that smack of utter cowardice, and you have total and complete irrelevance by one of the worlds largest sports-centric countries.
I have a feeling that most of the world probably enjoys having "futball" as a mostly no-American outlet for sports. Maybe the world revels in the fact that this is at least one world-wide endeavor that the US doesn't influence.
But nationlism aside, I think it's a shame that soccer officiating seems to so harshly punish all-out effort and hustle and so readily rewards shameful acts of whining.
Keep in mind, if some of those fouls were not called, then the same people who complain about the refs calling the game too harshly would be up in arms about the games getting out of hand and how the refs are endangering the players.
I think that the refs are doing a fine job. Maybe not the best, but they are keeping in line with the rules and punishing players who try to gain that unfair advantage. Personally as a player, I would rather have a large amount of calls than players who are getting away with murder.
What made the game difficult for us naive Americans was partly the officiating, and more significantly the falling Italians.
In most American sports, players stoicly whince at pain, suck it up, and go back to playing (i.e. Brian McBride). In futbol, players from South America and Europe have taken "diving" for fouls to new levels. It is not unique to World Cup, put pandemic in all the games they play. The Azzuri had all the drama of an opera, and all the skills of an olympic diving team. They're sissy antics won them a tie, and since America is the new kid on the block, we better learn to play like whimps. Playing hard and driving through fouls is apparently not one the values espoused by FIFA, so if we can't beat them, we had better join them.
I have to stop typing because my thumb is cramping up. Anyone got a spray can I can use?
Marcotti??? Hmm wonder what his nationality is? Biased perhaps?
Don't talk to me about the rules of play... If you want to stand by your so called "rules" then they need to be inforced throughout the tournament and on a consistant basis. There were numerous tackles made throughout that games, as well as other tournament matches this past week in which slides tackles have resulted in a "yellow" card, not a red. The "yellow" card is there for a reason, its a tool the referee has at his disposal and it should be used accordingly. The stage is too big for the ego of one referee to dictate a match. He was banned from the tournament before, and should be again. History repeats itself....
Points well taken from Marcotti, if overly focused on Arena's comments. While the officiating did seem to lean Italy's way, many of the American complaints are indeed unwarranted. Pope's ejection was not a straight red card, according to FIFA's official match report. Much of the focus has been on his second yellow card, which in fact was more deserved than his first yellow card, when the Italian forward pulled him down by his shirt. And under FIFA's directives, Italy at some point during the game should have been cautioned for its laughable "simulation."
Marcotti- I agree that the US could have divereted a few of their scouting resources into the officiating, but no matter how you slice it both US red cards were unwarrented. Although the first was two footed, barely i might add (TiVo is great for rewatching plays), it came from the side and was not from behind. It was late, and yes, on the ankle, but it was not a Red. Many players have made the same tackle, and announcers said it best when they claimed "make-up call" to even the game.
Pope's red was completely ridiculous. His defending was aggressive, but no where near deserving of a second yellow card. You say the ref told him to calm down; not once did i ever see the Ref approach Pope and speak to him about his play. Calling him for fouls is completely diffrent than explaining him that if he continues he is going to get booked.
The goal taken back due to offsides was completely justified; i think that was probably the best officiating call of the game.
As others before me have said, the US got the bad side of the deal. But, they still walked away with their point. And when they beat Ghana, this game wont really matter.
Marcotti, you ever stepped on the field? I hope you played strictly according to the FIFA's rules...and that is why you only write about sports.
Soccer rules are vague at best. Refs have discretion and plenty of it. They are the Gods. They can pick and choose. And here the ref made lots of bad calls. Not just against the U.S., but against the Italians, too. (I fear Dempsey may be learning to dive a bit too cutely).
Mastroeni's tackle was so typical as to be indistiguishable from ones that got a yellow card, just a foul, or were totally ignored. Perhaps you should take some time to look at other games and see the wishy-washy results from the hard line stance of FIFA. The attempt to placate anti-American sports fans is pathetic. Not unusual though, a Herald write cheered for the Italians after the apology and jeered U.S. complaints. There is a problem and it is simply the deference classic powers are given. How about discussing how England stole their game against T/T when Crouch decided to become a hair stylist?
Lastly, the U.S. concerns are greater given the elephant sitting on your head...um, what is that little scandal in Italy about? Oh, bribing refs? I'm Italian-American, and will root for Italy in the next round, but how can a team not be suspcious given the corruption in Italian soccer (and politics)? Oh, we're just whiners, I guess.
Excellent post but I must disgree with some of your logic. As far as I could tell, the referee never warned Pope about a second caution - something that should have happened - particularly since Pope was cautioned again less than 2 minutes into the 2nd half. Was the referee under tremendous pressure considering his audience? Absolutely. Was he enforcing the rules as FIFA wants him to? Perhaps, and if so, then FIFA needs to reconsider how they want the rules enforced. Yes, Pope fouled the Italian attacker after getting the ball. As an official I tire of hearing players who foul someone say, "But I got the ball!" Pope deserved to be called for a foul. He did not deserve to be sent off without a verbal warning on the biggest stage in the world. A referee's job is to manage the game in such a way as to have no impact in the overall result of the game, while at the same time enforcing the rules, protecting the players, and if at all possible, keeping all 22 players on the pitch for the duration of the game. This referee has excellent position for almost every call, so it is hard to argue with his foul recognition. However, he didn't seem to know when to card, and when he did card, he didn't know what the appropriate card the player earned for each foul. On several occasions in the match the referee cautioned when he should have verbally warned, and of course, sent players off when he should have cautioned. Very little has been said about the "no-call" on the handball in the box by the Italians. For those who think handball should be called if a player gains advantage, you are wrong. This is not the rule. The rule states that it is a handball if a player deliberately plays the ball with his hand. The Italian defender had the ball played into his hand on the deflection initially, but then clearly played the ball to help him clear the ball. This could have and should have been called a handball. But let's put blame where it rightfully belongs. The US played much too aggressive at times defensively and should have been aware that the referee may have been looking for a way to equalize the game by sending off an American. Whatever pressure he may have felt to do this (if justified) should have been unwarranted though because the Italian player earned his red card. His foul was blatant. Maestroni and Pope were guilty of being late on a tackle and were punished severely for it even though similar tackles have happened throughout the World Cup without so much as a caution. The referee was also far from consistent as he called almost everything in the first half but as the second half progressed called nothing in comparison with the way he called the first 70 minutes of the match. Let's be fair and applaud this referee where we can. As I mentioned, his positioning was excellent and his foul recognition good. He simply managed this game poorly and, in effect, became bigger than this game. And not to let his assistant referee's off the hook, they were clearly overzealous in several offsides calls that could have swung this match in Italy's favor. As hard as the US played and deserved to win this match, it could have just as easily gone to Italy.
The referee was absolutely atrocious . And not just the center, but the assistants as well. The red card on De Rossi was obvious. But, the straight red on Mastroeni was very poor. News flash here: It isn't illegal to go in with a 2-footed tackle. Pablo did not come in from behind and I do think it warranted a yellow and not a red. Eddie Pope's red, while I disagree with the call, I can see a second yellow leading to an ejection. Also, has anyone counted the number of times the Italians were carried off on a stretcher only to come back in 20 seconds later? McBride, all bloodied an all, wasn't even carried off on a stretcher. There were several times, after a cross in the box in which the USA gained possession and began their attack, an Italian defender is on the ground acting like he was just snipered. So what does the rules of sportsmanship say? Ok, kick the ball out of bounds since the player is injured. The medical team goes out to tend to an Italian player, carries him off, spray on something, then he re-enters 15 seconds later. What happens then? They get to reset their defense instead of chaos of failing to clear the ball. I think FIFA has to instigate a rule of some sort stating if you're carried off on a stretcher, a player is not allowed back into the game for 5 minutes. But my point is the Italians were clearly using their injuries to stop a mounting attack.
Give me a break. At one time USA had 20 fouls ITALY 7 that doesn't happen on accident. In 2002 he was suspended for officiating irregularities. You mean to tell me that of all the refs in the world they couldn't find somebody else to ref that had a clean sheet. Poor Poor Poor.
I am shocked! shocked! to see Americans responding to a well written article by bringing up the following points:
1) Italian flopping: quit acting chagrined, everyone does it, even if the Italians do more of it... just because it threatens the American machismo doesn't necessarily make it wrong.
2) The Mastroeni red card: I thought at the time that the red was justified (and I'm an American at that!) given that it was late, was studs up, was two-footed (although in my opinion this is virtually inconsequential), and most importantly, played the player and not the ball. Every replay I saw showed Mastroeni coming in hard and jamming his studs directly into the Italian's ankle. I don't care where you play, but that's a tackle that was designed to hurt the Italian player, and that is an automatic red card. No protests, no complaints... that foul was every bit as flagrant as De Rossi's elbow, and potentially much more damaging (three stitches in the cheek versus a broken ankle to a soccer player who's living is made with his feet... hmmm...). That's a red if the ref sees it, and he did.
Oh, and Mastroeni's tackle was one of the worst of the World Cup thus far, and certainly one of the two dumbest decisions in the game (along with De Rossi's elbow).
3) Inconsistency of the reffing: I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, but I'm confused as to why the US fans are complaining. The ref shelved his whistle during the latter stages of the game, which happened to be when Italy finally forced the game onto the American defense. By shelving his whistle at that time, the ref essentially denied Italy at least a couple, and potentially many, dangerous free kick opportunities like the one the Italians converted earlier in the game. Yes it's annoying to have a ref lose control of the game, but in this case having the ref in control of the game probably would've resulted in a less favorable outcome for your team.
4) Foul counts: In soccer, fouls are used much more strategically than in any other sport. The US defense consistently used fouls to break up Italian long ball counterattacks; the excessive foul numbers were in no small part due to a tactical decision by the US to try and slow the game down to prevent a quick counter goal from the Italians.
Lastly... 5) Marcotti's name: Have any of you people who have mocked Gabrielle Marcotti met him or done research into his family history? Yes, he has an Italian sounding name, but that does not mean that he is necessarily Italian. You have focused on venting your frustrations on first Larrionda and now Marcotti with little emphasis on the facts. Marcotti was attempting to emphasize that the referee was acting in accordance with the rules of soccer, and so now he is to fault for pointing that out while simultaneously being linked to Italy because of his name. For shame.
The truth of the matter is, regardless of how well they played, the United States was extremely fortunate to get out of that game with a 1-1 draw. The Italians have a much bigger gripe about the officiating than do the Americans: they too had a goal disallowed, but in this case incorrectly; they had numerous chances wasted by incorrect offsides calls; they put in an own goal that proved to be decisive. By all rights, the game COULD have ended about 3-0 Italy quite easily, despite the amazing effort put forth by the American team.
What pains me is the obvious diving taking place, and in no more obvious of a game than the US-Italy game. Yes, the Italians are known for diving, but rarely is it being punished, which is one of the key areas the officials said they would be looking out for.
The game was not called consistently, 36 fouls on the US and only 10 on Italy. I saw a different game, a physical game by both teams, but not by a difference of 25 fouls.
I don't think we should lay off this ref, his history in the past, especially in key US matchups and sanctions imposed on him in an earlier World Cup shows this.
He should not be a ref on a stage this big, especially a US game in which he has had conflicts in before.
It did seem the Italians fell down every time an american player breathed on them, particularly in the early stages of the match, and that red card on Mastroeni was ridiculous, total BS. Yes, he came in cleats up but it wasn't a foul with the intent to hurt the opposing player (unlike the Italian red card which was viscous). Mastroeni was going for the ball all the way, seemingly getting a touch on it too. I've watched almost every World Cup game so far and in any of them, with every other ref, that would have been a yellow at most. If anyone saw the Brazil/Australia match you'll remember a worse tackle against Ronaldo - cleats up, over the ball and straight into the shin - and was there a red card? No. The yellow shown was consistent with what we've seen in every game except U.S./ Italy.
Does it makes anyone else wonder about the refs checkered past (and how is this referee coaching at the highest level currently?!!?!?) and the current scandal in Serie A?
If you were even watching the game you would have noticed that BOTH teams were in fact being overly physical. In no way did the ref call the game consistantly. Of course, De Rossi's foul automatically deserved a red card. However, Pope and Mastroeni's fouls were not the worst of the game, but they were the ones who received red cards. The call on Mastroeni could have been a makeup call.. that would be the only explanation for it. It was a late tackle! Boo hoo. He definitely did not deserve to get a red card for it. Eddie Pope was doing his job as a defender and you can't say that he "should have changed his defending style" because that is completely your opinion. and i do believe that your opinions are more biased than they need to be. This ref ruined the game. He interferred way too much and made some utterly ridiculous calls. No one could predict what his next move would be! There were two fouls that were almost the exact same and only one of them was called. I mean is that not inconsistant? I think so. Now being a soccer player myself, I should know that you can't necessarily blame games on the ref's officiating job (or lack of). However, this is one instance because Larrionda was completely in the wrong during this game. I hope he isn't allowed to do it again, but if he is, I feel sorry for the teams who get him.
No way Pablo's foul was straight red. Just no way. That was a yellow, or a foul and a warning in all the other matches I've watched.
Add to that the fact that the first yellow on Pope was a total dive, the general diving and embellishment evinced by the Italians the entire game, and the fact that the first goal was set up by a phantom foul, and you have the recipe for a very poorly officiated match.
First, there have been some ridiculous posts so far. They seem to reinforce the world's attitude that the problem with US fans is that they simply do not understand the game or its rules. Eddie Pope did receive two yellows not a straight red. He was CONSTANTLY fouling and his second one came from behind, never touched the ball, and he was almost the last man back. HE was responsible for the sending off not the ref.
Also, the Mastroeni tackle was HORRENDOUS. I was cheering for the US to beat the Italians (because really, only Italians want to see Italy do well) but as soon as I saw him fly in I knew that there was a good chance that he would get a red. He went flying in, studs up, never came CLOSE to the ball, and caught Pirlo well above the ankle. He could have easily broken his leg.
Instead of focusing on Pope and Mastroeni's mistakes in getting sent off the US fans should be proud of the performance that they put in. The fans in the crowd were great and the team played with the kind of pace, skill, and determination that demonstrated the progress that US soccer is making every World Cup.
Yes, the ref did ease up on the fouls after the 50 minute mark but it also coincided with the players no longer making the kinds of full blooded tackles that they had been making. There were fouls but they were not worthy of yellow cards.
If the US plays against Ghana the way that they did in this match then they will have a great chance to go through to the next round. If they had played that way against the Czechs they would have run THEM off of the field instead of the opposite.
I am an Irishman living in the UK. I find myself enjoying the World Cup despite my national team's absence - and one of the main reasons for my enjoyment has been the protection afforded to skilful players by the excellent officiating. To a remarkably high degree, the refs have got it right and I include all the cards in the Italy-USA game in that comment; a game, incidentally which I enjoyed immensely. However, I DO agree with one previous comment - red-carded players should be allowed to be replaced as long as their team has not used all their substitutions. John Moran
Wow. I wonder what kind of commentary Marcotti would have written if the tables were turned. I'm not sure we were watching the same game...and how nice to hide behind and interpretation of the rules. Much like the Italian players, Marcotti is taking a "dive".
Unfortunately, the rules of futbol, while strictly defined, are open to a referees interpretation when on the field. An above poster made a good comment, Mastroeni's tackle was definitely not the worst of the night. Sure, we can say by the rules he deserved a straight red. However, by the rules then, there were probably 3 or 4 other tackles during the game that warranted a red.
I think the Italians have a right to complain about the refs as much as the US does, however. There were at least 3 or 4 offsides calls against them where they were clearly on. That game had a good deal of poor officiating throughout. Wade through all the bias of US and Italian fans, and you'll still find fans of the game in general thinking the officiating was poor.
Yank in Aus also made a good point; the refs seem plenty open to calling fouls/carding outside the penalty area, but once inside the area they clam up; just another way refs interpret the rules on the field differently, (in this case holding back where it would cause a team greater damage). Just another example of inconsistent calls based off of a refs judgement.
As a final note, I'm all for pushing for a '5 minute delay' for letting players back onto the pitch after being removed from the pitch from a foul. I'm sick of seeing a player go down, clutching their ankle and being carted off on a stretcher. As soon as they hit the sideline however, they hop back up, raring to go, and run back onto the pitch at the first chance. Why not make it mandatory for that player to stay off the field for 5 minutes? What kind of message does it send to future footballers, that diving and cheating is encouraged, in order to 'get the edge' for your team?
As a side note, has anyone this tournament been carded or called for taking a dive? FIFA also mentioned cracking down on diving, and yet it seems just as prevalent as always....at best, it draws a foul for your team, at worst it is ignored by the ref and play is continued. With the rules enforced as such, players have no reason NOT to dive, especially if they're in the process of losing the ball. Ball getting stolen? Fall down! Getting outrun by the defense? Fall down!
Every team is guilty of this; it's time to start cracking down on it.
My guess is FIFA would hope that, in carrying out FIFA's interpretation of the Laws of the Game, referees would be consistent in their application of the Laws. That is where Jorge Larrionda erred tremendously and negatively impacted the USA vs Italy match. Players can, or should be able to, adjust to any type of match a referee is calling, except an inconsistently called match. In 10+ years of refereeing college soccer I felt my best called matches were the ones in which I was barely noticed. Or in other terms, when 1/2 the supporters of each team thought I sucked, and the other 1/2 of each teams supporters thought I didn't suck. Eddie Pope's second yellow: if you have one yellow you have to play carefully, but the referee should give some latitude in giving a 2nd yellow unless the foul is aggregious in nature. I recall an American being taken down in the first half, just outside the Italian box, from behind, and while a foul was called, no card was given in an obviously cardable situation. Pablo Mastroeni's red card: Give me a break. Unless he had been a pain in the rear to the official up to that point and had been warned (not cautioned)that was a yellow at worst. Again, Larrionda was painfully inconsistent with his calls. But I will give credit where credit is due, the hand ball in the Italian box, as much as I wanted it to be a PK, the key word is "deliberatley" handling the ball. There was no intent. The offside on the American "goal" was clearly offside. Of course the AR made that call!
If you ask me, what the game needs is tighter calling of flopping and "time wasting". FIFA's current preference for calls merely increases diving and sissy play, which is one truly legitimate complaint Americans have about the sport.
Guy takes an obvious dive outside the box - give him a yellow, even if he is determined to have dived after the game is over. Dives in the box - automatic red and send off.
Furthmore, rolling around after a foul and wasting time should be punished. Perhaps the rolling ankle holder (who received contact at the thigh), should be required to stay off the field for 5 minutes. If I were a referee in the Mexican League, the cards would be flying.
The point here is that "technically correct" calling, as many have described Larrionda's officiating, will merely give us all more of what we don't want.
Anyone know what that magic aerosol spray is supposed to be? A spray form of Ben Gay, maybe?
If I see one more Italian player writhing in pain, carted off on a stretcher like their career was over, then jog right back on the pitch, I'm going to toss my cookies. How pathetic - Italian fans should be ashamed. Not once this tournament have you seen anything of this nature from the US boys - McBride had to be wrestled to the sideline to have a bleeding gash in his face sewed up, and he was back quicker than any of the Italians. Maybe it's the fact that the US players are brought up in the culture of "American" football where diving and faked injuries get you a one stop trip to the bench - whatever it is, we clearly have the toughest team in the tournament. We should all be proud, no matter what happens Thursday.
Why is everyone here upset at the ref? I can't believe that everyone ,including Lalas and Balboa from ESPN, are complainting about this.. Those plays deserved exactly what they got. It was ok to give the Italians the red and yellow cards, but not the ones to U.S players? It feels like whining to me. Don't get me wrong, I wish the U.S had won the game,. but our players got what they deserved
The "toughest team in the tournament"? Does that apply to the team that was whipped and walked off with their tail between their legs after playing the Czech Republic. Wow, what a difference a few days makes.
This article is right on target but I think the one thing that referees have been deficient at is catching divers, specifically in and around the penalty area. It's difficult, but a few yellow cards right at the start of the tournament could have cleared up these issues ASAP.
After having seen numerous replays of the Italy v. U.S. match and being a lifelong connoisseur of the game I have to conclude that Mr. Larrionda did a very fine job of refereeing it, in full accordance with FIFA's tough line on fouls made clear to all participating teams before the start of the tournament.
Unfortunately, most of the above comments provide a fresh proof (not that any proof was needed) of my fellow americans' status as the world's sorest losers and should be filed along with their usual "how to unsuck soccer" drivel. Let's grow up people and concentrate on taking the real positives from the Italy match.
I'm too lazy to read through all the comments, so I don't know whether this has been pointed out yet. however...WHERE WAS THE CONSISTENCY IN THIS OFFICICAL'S GAME? The last portion of the second half saw numerous tackles which would have gotten a yellow card earlier in the match go unpunished. This goes for both teams. I don't like the way he was dishing out cards, but if he's going to do that....MAKE IT CONSISTENT. It's just like an umpire in Major League Baseball. Players may be unhappy with the way balls and strikes are called, but if it is consistent, it is not as BIG of an issue.
I think the referee did call the right colored cards every time.
De Rossi's is a no-brainer and will probably keep him out of several games for blatant unsportsmanship.
Mastroeni's was also a flagrant foul that was meant to hurt the player. I don't care how much you want to argue about it... just because some referees call this type of play a yellow, doesn't mean they are doing it right. That is a direct red... late tackle, excessive force, studs up, both legs, directly to the ankle is a red. Might he touched the ball? Maybe, but he did so AFTER hitting the player. Another thing to consider: at that time the game was already degrading into a kick-fest, and carding is a legitimate way to make it stop.
Eddie Pope has no one to blame but himself. He tackled his way out of the match, not because the second yellow was harsher than others, but because he was doing it often, after already having a yellow card. Usually, people who do that end up leaving a match in whatever league you watch.
And for those of you crying foul over diving, two things you need to realize:
a) Italians have done this since the dawn of time, and Argentineans do this on ocassion too.
b) Certain American players do this quite often. Landon Donovan is one of the main culprits, although it hasn't been as evident since he has been a non-factor in 2 matches. If you ever watched the qualifiers, you would see that he has even made referees call bogus penalty kicks because of he theatrical dives.
So instead of these indignation blogs, ask your players to kick less, play more, and find themselves a faster creative midfielder, since Reyna is already too slow for the game.
One thing I haven't seen anyone post on here is the fact that the italians the entire game considered shoulder challenges to be fouls. If they don't win the shoulder challenge. Go back and watch the game and see how many times a contested shoulder challenge is called as a foul on the US. Mind you none of the Italians play outside of italy and none of the americans play inside it. If an EPL referee called this game you would have seen an entirely different story. Probably with Italian Conspiracy theorist coming out in full force as they always do. And I don't blame them with their scandals in the Serie A. They play a courrupted form of this beautiful game and should be punished for that. This Italian team showed their worth yesterday.
I applaud the US team for playing their game. Get used to it world. Every game against the us will be a battle. With a lot of fouls. They will just get smarter as to the kind of fouls that are committed. And if you say they fouled because they didn't have the talent to take on the Italians. Go back and watch Donovan beat Cannavaro 10+ times. Or watch the game again and see why derossi got so frustrated he had to elbow a player to the face. He realized the guy he was guarding was better than him. Plain and simple.
FYI Gabriele Marcotti is indeed Italian but I don't think this overtly colors his interpretation of the game. For my part I agree the US made a tactical error in continuing their overly rough play after de Rossi's card - at that point they'd frustrated the Azzuri into a cardable action and should have backed off a little, focused on using their extra space and wearing them down. Given what transpired the US should be proud of their result. I look with great anticipation to Thursday!
if you are taken off the field on a stretcher you should be unable to walk due to injury and be done for the rest of the game, if not the tournament. not roll around on the ground, take a ride on a stretcher, get a drink, hop up and go back to playing. ex: mcbride walked off the field, wiped off his face, put some butterfly sutures on, changed his shirt and was ready to go. he probably wouldn't have come off the field except for the fact that you can't play with flowing blood or blood on your jersey. they might have used the magic spray can on his face but i didn't see it.
I think the problem here is that they're not even being consistent about which FIFA edicts they follow. FIFA not only wanted to crack down on diving and shirt-pulling, as well. If the refs were cracking down on all of this, then it wouldn't give divers an advantage, but by just cracking down on the fouls part and not giving yellow cards for diving, the refs have created a situation where diving is the definite way to go. Refs are still afraid to stick their neck out on the diving issue. Talk with the assistant ref about it and if you both agree, give the man a yellow card...don't just assume he didn't do it because you're afraid to make the call. True, there would be some diving calls that weren't warranted, but I don't see how this is worse than yellow cards that are unwarranted for fouls. This will cut down on it. If a guy goes down in a situation where it's either a foul or a dive and you don't think it's a foul, for God's sake, give an automatic yellow card.
The referee was inconsistent at best. DeRossi's send off for violent conduct was a sound decision. The elbow didn't have the force which Leonardo's elbow did in the 94 World Cup when he cracked open Tab Ramos's skull, but it was serious enough. Eddie Pope's red for second cautionable offense was also right on. Pope was fortunate not to have been sent off earlier and never adjusted his tactics to the fact that he was carrying a booking. Mastroeni's expulsion is more problematic. In my opinion that tackle was barely late, if at all, but he did get him with the trailing leg with some degree of force. A caution for unsporting behavior would have been the appropriate response instead of changing the game with a send off. Mastroeni's response also said much. He wasn't angry, or hanging his head, or otherwise act like so many players sent off; his body language said "how did that get me a red?" The goal by Beasley disallowed for offside could have gone either way. I didn't see the leg lift or McBride dummy the ball, but he was right in the center of the goal and the ball was very close to him. On the other hand, McBride didn't play the ball or consciously screen Buffon. You can argue it either way but it was an honest call, above everything. And speaking about laying off people, lay off Mr. Marcotti! He's an excellent writer who's entitled to his opinions and perspectives. As a first generation Italian-American, who was rooting like crazy for the USA, show him the respect he's earned and deserves. Let's put this behind us an pull for the USA to make it to the next round on Thursday.
First of all you that are discussioning here must call the game football and NOT soccer because this game have been played for the first time in EUROPE and not in usa . Another thing ,you guys should be better to study the LAWS and the Rules of this MAGIC Game because this is not american soccer but but but EUROPEAN FUTBOLL .You are coming now and say FIFA or BLATTER is like this or like that . SORRY but who are you to judge organization like FIFA ??? Thank you for your patient .
For the most part, you are all idiots who probably enjoy listening to Dave O'brien and Marcelo Balboa butcher the game. WIth the exception of Marcotti and the last post, you are all wrong and clearly should stick to watching the MLS. You don't understand soccer if you think they ref did anything wrong other than set the tone too early with the cards (e.g. Totti's yellow) you have been influenced by people Alexi Lalas who called Kasey Keller "the best keeper in the world". Come on, we complain about everyone else except ourselves. Soccer will never be important (or appreciated) if we have idiots like you people posting and idiots like Wynalda commentating.
Let's quit worrying about the ref and worry about the fact that we have not scored a goal thus far. This team can't break down an opposing defense at the world-class level and that should concern us more than any referee. Until the US produces a striker who can score double digit goals in the elite leagues of the world, we'll never have a legitimate shot at winning the World Cup. McBride is closest (8 this yr for Fulham) but he's getting a bit long in the tooth. I agree that diving has not been called enough. Perhaps Sepp Blatter should worry about enforcing that particular rule with his referees. On the whole, the only legit complaint IMHO was the Mastroeni call. The rest were tight but spot-on. There is nothing wrong with physical play but we fouled early, often and late against Italy and the number called reflects this. If we start scoring some goals, we won't have to worry about the officials.
Mr Marcotti is absolutely correct in his analysis, as well with the common knowledge that World Cup refereeing bares no relation to that of domestic leagues.
Nothing irritates me more than commentators who know full well that referees are not allowed to show common sense, complaining about the lack of common sense referees show. They're told time and time again the reason why referees don't give warnings in particular situations, but still they continue to make ridiculous statements, criticising decisions they know the referees have to take.
This clamp down on physical play is not new, this has always been the way World Cup games have been officiated. At least it has been since I started watching them in the late 70s.
I do have sympathy for teams like Australia and the USA, because refs are clearly biased against their more physical style of play - a style that in the English Premier league would have seen both US players end the game on the pitch.
However both team's coaches have been there and done that - they are both experienced enough to know what to expect, and instead of naively complaining about decisions they know will not be changed, they should have prepared their players with the appropriate training.
Do I think referees should be told to give verbal warnings before cards - ofcourse I do, especially when it comes to players who've never been to the World Cup Finals. But that doesn't change the reality of the situation, which is that referees at the finals are not going to give warnings, and are going to give cards for a physical approach to the game.
Again it goes back to the coaches, especially experienced coaches like Arena and Hiddink, and their preparation of their team. Either they accept the consequences of allowing naive players to go out there with no idea what's in store for them, or they train their players in a way that minimises the number of cautions they receive.
I am not as US National team fan, not am I a Seattle Seahawk fan... but I watched both this match and the Superbowl get ruined by abysmal officiating.
The whole "get over it" type article or comment is so easy and cheap. It minimizes the legitimate emotions of people who watched a match they cared about get ruined.
I've read all the comments, and I have to say that I do not believe that any of you, despite what you post, actually believe that that was a fairly called match. That would be ridiculous and I think most of you, including Mr. Marcotti, are merely posturing. You, like all of us, wish the game had been called fairly, so your only avenue is riducule and denial.
It was a disgrace of an officiating job, everyone should just admit it and move on. The more breath wasted trying to convince people that they didn't see what they saw is only going to make it more of an issue.
Save your breath, we were there, we saw it. Stop trying to convince us that up is down and red is blue.
First of all id like to send support to Marcotti, a journalist trying to "educate" about the basics of officiating & giving a key to interpretation 'n receiving insults for this. (ma che ci fai in america? torna a casa abbiam bisogno di giornalisti veri)
After this id just like to pin point some posts written by non-italians explaining why US could be full of shame for they tactics of breaking down the game continuosly with fouls in every part of the field. Not to mention how ridiculous are complaining about the ref with a 25-10 foul, 11-1 offsides... Thx the ref you finished the game in 9! The real complain shold be: The ref loose the control of the match in the first 10 mins letting the us team do 8 fouls (allowing them to feel free in fouling, after this italians felt frustrated an the less expert player lost his head. Yep, you got your point; yep your are great drawing with Italy; yep your dignity is back... NOPE you didnt deserve the respect of other supporters: for all medias here (in europe) US didnt play with fair play, but played a gladiatorial game. All you achieved were to draw with Italy, which is not a loved team and thats great!
Reading the majority of the comments seem to me Us cannot play football, obviously because you judge the game like american football: A foul is not only when a player get a broken leg. got it?
Marcotti, I think you make some great points. But as others have posted, the refs have been a little inconsistent in there calls. Earlier in the day there were two incidents.
What about the foul on Luis Figo (in the Portugal V Iran game) that left him with a stud mark on his face, and neither a yellow nor a red was shown. But while Pauletta is fighting for the ball his foot goes up hits the Iranian and the ref pulls out a yellow. WTF???
As for the handball, I was surprised by the non call. Back at the Euro 2000 semi, between France and portugal, Xavier, the ball hit off of Xavier's arm, he had his arms sticking out, he wasn't using them to gain a advantage on the ball (ala Maradona)and teh ref issues a PK, France wins. Hmmm...nevermind maybe Arena got it right. Maybe the SuperPowers (i.e. France, Italy, Argentina) do get the calls going there way.
In the spirit of what Marcotti wrote, I tend to agree with him/her. I think the fouls were called technically correct, but unfortunately did nothing to control a hard physical game. That the coaches and players had been warned/informed, but failed to adjust their gameplans also lies testiment to this. I also watched the AUS-BRA game. Another hard fought physical game, but this one did not descend to the depths of the USA-ITA game. The referee managed that game extremely well.
Everyone can argue whether someone deserved a card or not, but once it has occured, it can not be taken back. The players have to learn to change their gameplan and continue. In the case of Pope, he didn't change his style of play and was ejected. Case closed. De Rossi performed a blatant dangerous foul and was ejected. Case closed. Pablo's ejection was probably harsh, and was probably a 'evener', but it was still a dangerous tackle. Case closed.
Having played many years ago, and also been an official, the game hasn't changed all that much. Diving was around in the 80's. Very hard to eliminate it, and yes, some players are able to 'milk' it for all it is worth. Is it bad for the game...yes, but very hard to officiate against. I agree with some of the thoughts on rule changes...Sub out a red card, interchange an injured player for 5 minutes (works well in rugby and rugby league)..maybe FIFA can investigate these in time for the next world cup.
The magic spray used to be virtually ice, I don't know what it is now but it must be the same idea. It actually works pretty well, having tried it myself after a contusion. The problem is that 80% of the time the "contusions" are just faked.
I, too, often wondered why an injured player could not be forced to stay off the field (longer than it is now). Something similar to what happens in american football, where you have to miss one play.
In Italy there was talk about introducing instant replay in soccer, but this was strongly opposed by "the establishment". It probably has something to do with the will to let the referee control the game and, partly, it's simply a matter of tradition. My implementation of it, though, would be rather limited and surely not include every cardable offense.
If there is any doubt, for instance in an offside situation, let the game run, and then watch the replay to eventually disallow a goal.
It could, again, be implemented in a similar way to american football, with coaches being able to questions decisive calls a limited number of times per game (possibly at the price of a substitution).
BTW, I am Italian and really can't stand the attitude of the italian soccer players, as most other "non soccer" italian sport people.
For some reason, many on this blog are assuming that a complaint against the officiating comes from an American, ignorant of soccer rules, who is sore that the US side didn't come away with 3 points.
Is it not possible to just think the officiating sucked, no matter who I wanted to win?
If anything, American fans should be pleased with a tie against Italy, so I don't understand the allegations that those complaining about the officiating are sore that the US didn't get 3 points.
The point has been made well by many - there was no consistency at all to the officiating. Note Beasley literally reaching up and handling the ball while it was in play, towards the end of the match, with no disciplinary action taken against him. That's at least a yellow. An Angola midfielder got his second yellow against Mexico for the exact same action.
Here's the bottom line - FIFA exists to better the game. The game does not exist to glorify FIFA. Regulation often reaches a point to where it hinders and controls those it is chartered to protect and better (there are direct parallels to government here). This is what is happening here. Was the game actually enhanced by the official? If so, why are so many rushing to defend the technicality of the official's actions?
Common sense should tell you that grossly apparent lack of consistency and multiple players getting sent off, amounts to an official ruining a match. I don't want to hear anyone blather on anymore about a call being "technically correct". A call is right or wrong based on myriad factors that must be decided by a human referee, a referee that has his/her own biases, interpretations and perceptions of the action based on the intensity of the game. I could go out there and make "technically correct" calls that send off all 10 field players of each team, which would force the goalkeepers to dribble at one another for the final 15 minutes of the match.
I hope everyone now appreciates the fact that Zinedine Zidane, who is soon to retire from football altogether, will miss his last game in international competition. But the call was "technically correct", even if it was inappropriate and counter-productive.
First of all, it is the first World Cup on my memory (out of 7) in which no player was crippled on the field so far. Like the rules or not, they work. Two straight legs when the ball is missed, Mastroeni out, well deserved.
Second point: it was Italy, not the US, who was robbed the victory in that game. Gattuso's clean goal disallowed, penalty on the 88th minute not given, several offsides that did not exist, several potentially dangerous free kicks not given. C'mon, gringos!
Gabriele, I played a high level of club soccer all through my youth and I've watched international soccer since the '78 World Cup so I think I've done my fair share of homework although I wouldn't be so stupid as to compare my knowledge of international soccer to Bruce Arena, who has been coaching international soccer for almost 8 years with fairly good results. I'd tend to believe Arena's opinion, while certainly biased, has a level of validity which should be enough that your average spare to fair soccer journalist ought to at least respect. I mean, he's coached a team to the quarterfinals of the World Cup and you've - well what is your international soccer experience again?
I'm quite sure that Arena is very aware of the FIFA pre-tournament officiating mandates. I know that I was and all I do is watch games on TV here in the U.S. so I think it's a fair bet that even more people over here are aware of those pre-tournament instructions. So, when I, like many other U.S. fans, happen to be watching the U.S. game and see a situation that has only occurred four other times - three players kicked out of the same game - I think one reasonable way of looking at the game is that the referee became too involved in the game. In fact, I think the referee himself became aware of it as he practically swallowed his whistle in the last half of the game.
I don't think there was any conspiracy going on and I don't think, by the letter, that either the Pope or Mastreoni red was completely egregious. What I do think is egregious is, after a half that was completely disrupted by two ejections, to start the second half with yet another ejection. That's just plain bad judgement by the referee. If you don't think so - go look at the tapes of all the other games of the Cup and tell me how many times have their been tackles like the one Pope committed that haven't resulted in a yellow card or red card versus how many have. While your at it - see how many two footed slide tackle fouls have resulted in straight red cards. I can think of one - Kezman's extremely late and nasty challenge that was clearly about hurting someone more than playing the game. So don't quote the directive to me and act like the decision is out of the referee's hands - the refs have been making value judgments about those type of tackles all tournament long. So, regardless of one's level of "gumption", it comes down to individual referees to make good sound decisions that don't influence events out of all perspective to the nature of the foul committed. Just look at the Ghana game - what did Ghana end up with, 20+ fouls and 6 yellows but somehow no reds despite playing the same type of physical game as the U.S.
Does the U.S bare some amount of responsibility? Yeah, Mastreoni has admitted as much and I think in the future he will know not to offer up a golden opportunity for a make-up card. Arena was clearly playing with fire leaving Pope in to start the second half. I'm sure in the future they well certainly take this lesson to heart. That doesn't mean that U.S. fans don't have some valid feelings about the quality of the officiating in this game. Afterall, Italian fans are still claiming that the referee's cost them their first round game in the '02 game and Euro2000 final. If their entitled to have deluded opinions about officiating then I think you could indulge the U.S. fans a litttle bit.
Either: A) You were not watching the same game as I, or B) You had your head securely placed up your posterior end while the game was on. Larrionda showed cards when he shouldn't have and didn't show cards when they would have been much more appropriate. He--not either team--was out of control; very, very out of control. De Rossi's elbow was at the very least irresponsible--but let's be honest: It was not completely obvious that it was as intentional as many thought it was. The red card was given because De Rossi drew blood, but without McBride's face masked with blood, the foul deserved a yellow card--it was not technically OBVIOUSLY INTENTIONAL enough to show the red. But, we could stomach one questionable red card. He proceeded to show red to Mastroeni, who performed the same double-footed lunge tackle I see performed every weekend in English Premiership games, often awarded the yellow, occasionally waved off, but never, never, given a red. Pirlo (who is a phenomenal player and usually very honest) couldn't help himself at such a huge opportunity and took "the" dive of this World Cup so far--he sold it so well, it brought on the red. Mastroeni is not a dirty player, and we all know that his foul deserved a caution and maybe a yellow card at the most. The red on Pope was so much more laughable. His yellow card earlier was fairly ridiculous, but then to get a second yellow card assessed on a tackle in which he clearly knocked the ball away before any incidental contact of the man??? [That is the definition of a legal tackle, you must know...] It is obvious from the start that Larrionda lost control of the match, and it resulted in piss-poor officiating. He gave emotional red cards that for the most part were rather technically unwarranted (the only one I could stretch into a red-card offense was De Rossi's)--we see blood, he red cards; we see an opportunistic dive on a rough, but very normal challenge, he red cards. They were horrible calls--it would have been the best game yet of the World Cup 2006 even at even strength--and Larrionda robbed us all of the opportunity to see an even better match. Boy, do I wish Hugh Dallas and Pierluigi Collina were still around to put guys like Larrionda over their knee... Whatever Joga Bonito is, Larrionda is making it impossible to do.
The worst part, the ref was right there looking at it. If you watch a replay of the game, he leave the screen just before the handball and is running towards the action.
He saw it, saw that it influenced play and "chose" not to call it.
I'd like to more about the "inconsistencies" that got him suspended before the last world cup.
Sports governing bodies take to lenient a view of the importance of good officiating. FIFA is never going to change because the World Cup is the most popular sporting event(s). SI predicted the officiating would be bad, with some officials much worst than others. Turns out the obvious does come true.
Couldn't disagree more. I understand FIFA being strict, but this has gotten totally absurd. I've played the game all my life, and more than not, a foul is just a foul. It is part of a known physical game (although many do not think so). Again, if you're going to referree that strict, what ever happened to a warning? Are the refs that detatched from the game. As with most sports, the less the ref is involved (unless totally necessary), the more enjoyable the game. After watching todays games, again I couldn't disagree more with your assessment. Much less whistles, much better game. I personally hope that ref does not ref another Wold Cup game, regardless of who is playing!!!
Having grown up in Germany and followed football my entire life, I have to agree with the general sentiments. De Rossi's red card was a no-brainer. Mastroeni's was questionable, likely a make-up call, and was not consistently called all night. Pope's was again questionable, but he certainly should have known it was coming. I still can't figure out why Arena didn't sub him at the half, since everyone in the stands knew Pope was eventually going out. On the other hand, I think you have to give credit to the Italians for style of play. I think that one of the reasons that there were so few calls after the Pope send-off was that the Italians didn't give him the chance to come up with another make-up call.
I believe it was the Ghana Manager who said it best..."The refereeing in this World Cup has been quite strange".
We can debate all we want whether the USA-Italy refs calls were correct or not. The bottom line is he made them and the teams just had to deal with it. My problem with the Refereeing, whether it's by FIFA's instruction or not, is that the refs are applying different standards than was used in all the previous World Cups that I have seen as well as the countless Euro Championship games I have seen, as well as every single match I have seen from the various national leagues around Europe.
The sudden change of the standards on the eve of the Cup is inexcusable in my opinion. If there is such a big crack down in effect where are all the yellow cards for diving? I don't think I've seen one and I have watched most or all of 95% of the games. Players have clearly taken advantage of the situation and are diving at the drop of a hat. Heck why shouldn't they. It's not being penalized. The yellow card on the Ghana player during the PK was an absolute joke. Many great players are being unreasonably suspended and the only people suffering are the fans and the teams themselves.
As far as I am concerned the Ref's and FIFA have been an embarrassment and have adversely affected the games. It is a black eye FIFA will have some time recovering. And deservedly so!!!
Marcotti's defense of Larrionda is focused on the calls that Larrionda made, while conspicuously neglecting the calls that he did NOT make. They are just as important as the ones he made and completely invalidate Marcotti's arguments.
Making it short. Once again, a ref tries to be bigger than the game on the pitch. The game is won by the best team and should not be won by the Ref. He was awful, hope we do not see him again on this or any other World Cup. Go USA.
USA outplayed Italy even with the help of the so call Ref. I've seen many and played many "Jogo Bonito" to know that your comments are coming from a wounded Italian fan, we understand, but better realize that the USA is for REAL. You may want to do some research on this Ref, before you take his side.
It makes me sick that people are taking shots at Mr. Marcotti because of his potential heritage. What a joke! I am Italian and I was hoping that the Italians would lose that game because the Americans were outplaying them for lengthy stretches throughout the game. Therefore, I don't understand why Americans on this blog are not taking that approach and continue with sore loser remarks. The Italians were expected by the Italian media to win and win huge, yet, if you go on to any Italian websites, the focus is not on the referee and missed calls, but at the good play of the U.S., the poor play of the Italian team, and the embarassing elbow by De Rossi. A team that was expected to win and tied, is not making excuses, yet a team that was expected to lose and tied is making all the excuses in the world, Should it not be the opposite? By the way, the last time I checked, a yellow card is a caution. People on this site, for some idiotic reason, believe that if you get a yellow card, you actually deserve a little slack. GUESS WHAT MORONS, IT IS THE OPPOSITE! If you have a yellow, that was your caution, the fact that it took until the second half for Pope to get a second yellow is what is embarrassing based on his play. Suck it up americans, if your team plays close to how it did in the second half, you have a legitimit shot at beating Ghana. By the way, how ironic it is, that you are all cheering for Italy to beat the Czech's, something your team could not do.
I'm wondering when Arena is going to realize that it was his game to win and he blew it, not the officials. The fact that he didn't put in a speedy Eddie Johnson for a slow and ineffective Brian McBride is inexcusable. Johnson earned his minutes in the Czech Republic game and would have been well suited to take advantage of the open spaces in a 10 v 9 match.
"First of all you that are discussioning here must call the game football and NOT soccer because this game have been played for the first time in EUROPE and not in usa ."
I found this amusing, simply because in the first World Cup ever played the United States finished higher than any European team (granted, not many of them showed up because many were upset at Uruguary being awarded the inaugural tournament... but a third place finish is nothing to sneeze at), and has also recorded one of the biggest upsets of all-time in a 1-0 shocker over England in the 1950 World Cup.
I don't expect many US soccer fans to know their heritage, but it's nowhere near as barren as some people, including those at ESPN, would have you think.
And for no other reason than that, I choose to call it soccer. I've called it calcio, futbol, and football before, but regardless of the name it is still a joy to play and to watch.
Many US commentators seemed convinced that the red card on Mastroeni was a "make-up" call (a term I've never heard in 30 years of watching European football). This directly amounts to accusing the referee of cheating - why on earth would a referee feel compelled to even up the numbers? Why? It's not even as if the first red (to the Italian) was a dubious call.
All three dismissals were entirely correct.
To succeed, the US needs to play a hard-tackling, pressing game, especially against teams like Italy. (That's why they got beat by the Czechs). They just need to show some control, and sense of how each referee is calling any given game.
The Ghana game will be interesting - Ghana are not afraid of a tackle, have pace and talent. The US do not play the African teams often and will need to be at their best to win.
Mastroeni's entry was dangerous. It was as clear a red card as was de Rossi's elbow. Pope's second yellow was given because of the fouls effect on the play, not because of its severity as a foul. That's what matters most in soccer - cards are given for acts contrary to the spirit of the game - tackles with no clear purpose other than to injure or disrupt the play. In those terms the officiating was fine.
As for diving - the US does plenty of it. Teams like the US strike this pose of complaining when other teams (for some reason usually mediterranean or south American) `dive' - this pose is garbage - a lot of times it is meant to distract from a hard foul - so it is of the same nature as diving in that it is anti-competetive.
Save the outrage against the official - what happened to France was an injustice (a ball which entered the goal was not called a goal) and cost them dearly. The US on the other hand made its own bed - it set out to play the Italians roughly because it knows it lacks the technical skill to beat them in any other way. And still the US has not scored a goal.
Maybe FIFA should have a mandate that bars some of the most finely tuned atheletes in the world from rolling around the ground like little fairies and ruining the integrity of the game. I can only imagine how an Italian (or Spanish or Mexican or...) player would have reacted from being elbowed the way that McBride was. Maybe if they would hand out red cards to the true cheaters of the game, the 90% of players who dive, it'd be a lot more black and white of what is and isn't a foul. But the game origins are steeped in sissyness, and as much as I enjoy watching it, as long as men that are more athletic than 99.9% of the world find laying on the ground and writhing in pain is a "cool" thing, it should always take a back seat to true and honest sport.
To the US fans who disagreed: it may not have been perfect but it is not worth complaining about. The calls were all justifiable enough that complaining is now just whining.
To the Euro fans who think the US played dirty or are not entitled to have an opinion because they are not part of European history: it is the WORLD cup. Football has always evolved and changed as the game grew in different areas. The US game will grow in it's own way and contribute it's own style in time - which will be copied by the us just as we copied aspects of S. Americas game. If we want to win the WORLD cup, we have to take on all comers and beat them. Quit whining (and diving and cheating) and then you can criticize the US.
Mr. Marcotti, Right on. What Coach Arena should be really pissed at is the poor tactical decision by Pablo Mastroeni to tackle. Took the advantage away from the US. Maybe the stars will align and the US can advance. It was all there for the taking.
Gee, an Italian - from the scandal ridden Italian team is defending a horrible ref by crowing about "technicalities" and FIFAs godfathers. Thats rich. Funny how the fines and suspensions are on hold until after the World Cup...
A 4 year old can tell the ref was horrid, card happy, so fooled by the Italians flopping he thought it was a turkish bath house and overzealous cards and fouls. It was so embarrassing, apparently the godfathers of corruption, I mean FIFA - definately had a "talking to" with him during half time, probably reminded him of his 2002 6 month suspension for "irregularities" (actually game fixing and bad calls in over 6 cited international matches)Hmm, Im seeing a consistent trend with Italy and refs now...
If you truly have a clue about soccer and respect the game - stop pandering for the corrupt few and start opening your eyes to what the majority of the world saw. Do you know how many Irish friends I have gotten emails from claiming how bad the ref was? And they dont even like the American team.
I wish people would stop commenting on Mr. Marcotti's nationality and any bias that is supposed to have, I have read his articles for years and there is nobody better who understands the nature of the game or gives a neutral analysis.
As far as the officiating of the US game is concerned, sure the ref might have been harsh but some refs are, you have to learn to adapt. Fact of the matter is that Italians did and the US did not. Many people commenting of the officiating also fail to recognize what a crippling experience a two footed studs up challenge can be. There was a comment that Americans should learn how to play whimps. Now that is just immature, every sport is different, with different dangers and degrees of a malicious foul. In American football, there is just a regular foul and then an unnecessary roughness, in basketball there is technical foul and dissent is not tolerated at all. In American football if they see a rough play with many refs on the field, they call it. Here in football, you have one ref ... who saw the tackle in his line of sight, you cannot expect him to just stand there. The US had more fouls, some say that the ref was only calling out fouls against them. I disagree, I saw Onyewu grab his mark many times ... and just held on to him, I didn't see that on the Italian side. Sure the US had fighting spirit but doesn't really mean that you have to physically fight. You get red carded for that if it is caught. De Rossi did it got caught, got ejected. Everybody seems to be okay with that decision, but a two footed studs up career ending tackle in front of the ref to one of the key players by a player fouling all match is supposedly to be ingored, c'mon?
Everyone is obsessing about this game being called by strict FIFA rules, and using that to justify Mastroeni and Pope deserved cards. In that case, shouldn't Italy be given countless yellow cards for all their dives?? Or am i following a different set of rules for this game...
"The ref should let the players play" many of you say. How can he do that when if he did the pitch would be littered with players writhing around in "fakony" (fake + agony)?
Though I've come around to a greater appreciation for soccer over the years, I'll never fully accept and respect the game until it drastically reduces flopping or diving. It's disgusting. It's embarrassing. It's undignified. It's . . . it's . . . unmanly! Perhaps if they figured out a way to increase scoring chances then you wouldn't have players faking so much to try to gain those preciously rare chances to do so. Then problem is soccer is too extreme in its rewards and punishments. Commit a severe foul? Player gone and team plays shorthanded for the balance of the game. Commit a foul in the penalty area? Almost automatic goal by penalty shot. Score first goal? Good chance you've won. The severity of these things provides huge incentive for players to try to spark fouls, which leads to all the hoary dramatics.
You may be right about the two US players rightfully being sent off. But what you fail to acknowledge is that the kind of tackle that Mastreoni committed has been happening all tournament long and his was the first I saw (admittedly I haven't seen every minute of every game), that went straight to a red card. And Pope is hardly the only player thus far to commit numerous fouls. So while the ref may have acted exactly how FIFA wants, in my eyes he would be the first ref to do so and that inconsistency is the real problem. You say the US fans should lay off, if that's the case then there are numerous other fans that should be laying into other refs who didn't make the same calls for similar infractions. Since you fail to mention this inconsistency your article comes across as just more US bashing!
Seems like Marcotti didn't watch the game so much as the highlight clips. Calling was inconsistent all game. Offsides was missed several times (for both sides), including inconsistent "at-level" calls. Ball-first tackles varied between no-calls, fouls and cards. The offsides call on Beasley was not clear-cut... I'd tend to think the goalie saw the ball clearly, based on his immediate reaction, but okay... don't line up offsides next time, McBride. Maybe he was a bit disoriented from getting his clock cleaned 30 minutes before.
Anyway, defending the ref on the backs of FIFA doesn't work for me. Each game has its own style of officiating. The first 15 minutes gives you an idea from what will and will not be called, and how loose the play will be. The play was called inconsistently at best, so expecting "veteran" players to pick up on the signs is not a fair statement.
Of all the games I've watched, this was the only one that made me walk away feeling upset about the officiating. And just so you can't blame it on "the new rules of FIFA", pull up the ref's officiating record. He consistently cards more than his peers in tournaments. And consistently against one team more than another.
"that foul was every bit as flagrant as De Rossi's elbow, and potentially much more damaging (three stitches in the cheek versus a broken ankle to a soccer player who's living is made with his feet... hmmm...). "
This statement is as idiotic as the rest of your post. The player didn't get a broken ankle, McBride did recieve three stitches. You want to talk potential injury. Ask anyone with post concussion syndrome if they'd rather have that than a broken ankle. Ask Tab Ramos! Going after someones head being compared to a possible broken ankle. You are totally clueless. Throwning a deliberate elbow to the head as opposed to a late tackle, in which I think Pablo was just clumsy, not intentionally out to hurt him. Please.
SI.com's world soccer columnist, Gabriele Marcotti, has served as Sports Illustrated's main European stringer for more than two years.
Marcotti also contributes articles to numerous European publications, including the Financial Times and Daily Mail in England, and La Stampa and Corriere dello Sport in Italy.
Currently based in London, Marcotti earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. He is fluent in Italian, English and German; born in Italy, he was raised in Chicago, Poland, Germany, New York, London and Japan.
Quote> "Second red to Pope...totally Arena's fault. Pope should have been subbed at halftime."
I completely agree with this and had thought about it myself before Pablo was even sent off. It was clear that Pope would get a second yellow.
For those thinking Pope should have adjusted his game, this isn't chess where you think out every move. Pope was trying to keep the Italians from scoring, the same way he has his entire career. Soccer is a reaction sport not golf which is 90% between your ears. The blame lies on Arena.
We could relive every call of every game and discuss it's appropriateness at length. I think we have to accept that as Mr. Marcotti said, the Laws of the Game are interpreted by the referees. That implies a certain amount of subjectivity. Therefore, there will very rarely be consensus on whether a call was good or not. It's unfortunate, but dives and dramatic antics are part of playing strategy. Hopefully, players for the most part will play the ball and not dwell on calls that they cannot change. Same goes for the fans. The game is what it is.
Although I can agree with points of Marcotti's argument, I cannot support it all, especially the ref simply interpreting FIFA law and the U.S. should be faulted for not adjusting. Ridiculous. The presence of FIFA officials at games should have no impact on referees or teams' play. And if Marcotti wants to point out that Mastroeni's two-footed tackle is a red per FIFA directives, simulation or diving is a cardable offense per the ref's discretion. All calls are per the refs discretion, and unfortunately the discretion of many refs this World Cup have been horrendous. This tournament has already seen cards getting handed out like candy - there were already 165 yellow cards, 10 reds, and 16 players can't play their third game - and we aren't even through week 2 of the World Cup. Over 5 cards a game!! If FIFA wanted to showcase the ineptitude of its refs and their ability to affect matches, then mission accomplished.
Marcotti with an Italian name but no bias: I have watched each game thus far, and Mastoeni's was the first tackle of its kind to be given a straight red. On an unrelated note, I would like to see more posts from people who start by saying, "I'm Brasilian" or "I'm from Spain" etc. Those never get old. No way an American could understand this complicated sport, right? Anyway, thank you for the offer, but I do not need your help in identifying inconsistant or just plain bad calls. Even as an American, I know very well how to spot them. It is a sad truth in sports that sometimes outcomes are influenced by refs, umpires, and judges. Thanks again, jefe
You sure cleared that up for me. I see now, by your logic, the US needs to see who is in the stands representing FIFA for our Ghana game. Furthermore, we need to create a ref "matrix" where the following additional factors are taken in. 1) Is the ref aware of who is in the stands 2) based on the ref's perception of the location of THE POWERS THAT BE, will he need to change how he views certain plays and tackles. 3) Is the ref a FIFA toady, and will he call fouls according to FIFA hoyle, or will he call fouls as he normally does? By using this handy ref matrix Bruce Arena will not need to study Ghana at all. Brilliant Gabe. Thanks a ton. This from the guy who warned us all pre World Cup that officiating will dicated the games. Mr. Marcotti, the real problem is not the US-Italy game specifically, the real problem is that this particular ref did not call the game as most other officials would have. You have given clue's that his thinking might have been altered by the attendence of certain FIFA officials. If this be the case, then this ref altered the course of a game not by justifiable causes, but by external circumstances. Put any other ref in there and I promise the game does not finish 10 V 9. Not even you can argue that. And that means that this ref blew the game, and any fan can hope, his chance at officiating any other game in Germany. I wouldn't hire that guy to ref a game of scrabble. He blew this game like no other official, OR most every other official has not been doing the job FIFA wants, if we are to believe your stated rationale.