Monday, June 16, 2014

A Hero, a Villain, and an Unlikely Vindication

Well then, it has been a busy first few days for the World Cup eh?

We opened with controversy right form the 1st match (match report) with Yuichi Nishimura. An experienced and frankly "safe" choice for FIFA, as I expected an exhibition match. No one expected Brazil to perform so poorly AND Croatia to play as well as they did.

As we know the controversy surrounds the penalty decision Nishimura-san made in the 71st minute to allow Brazil to go ahead 2-1. A pivotal moment in the match and one that I believe if not called, the match would have drawn. 

Now, I am NOT one of the conspiracy theorists that believe that this was all a plot to quell the protests in Brazil and the only was FIFA gets out with its hide is by Brazil winning it all.

What I do believe is that Nishimura-san fell for an excellent simulation from Fred. Alexi Lalas was very good in his analysis stating that is was the right time, place, and type of simulation to get that call. He was not particularly critical of the referee, and nor am I, frankly because Fred cheated to get that decision.

But honestly folks, this is the biggest of the big leagues and you have to be ready for it.

FIFA's refereeing director Massimo Busacca didn't do anyone any referees in the tournament a favor with his mealy mouthed support of Nishimura-san, saying essentially that if players did not touch each other, there would be no issues.

Wow ... stunning repartee Massimo. How about this ... we reviewed the replays and it seemed clear that Fred simulated a foul and even for this attempt we are fining him $10,000 for his lack of "fair play."

So now Nishimura-san is the villain, when it was really Fred who caused the issue. I don't think we will see him again in this tournament, sadly.

Our hero should be Ravshan Irmatov, (and SB Nation agrees) with his perfect advantage decision that allowed Switzerland to score in the 93' (match report). This was no easy advantage either kids. The foul was just outrageous, it occurred deep in the middle 3rd, and it was not clear if the player wanted to keep playing.

Irmatov was perfect and allowed the PLAYERS TO DECIDE what would come next. He let them play when they wanted to and set the stage for the magic to happen.

You see, here's where Busacca should be shouting. FIFA's headline should not have been,
Super subs play vital Swiss role, it should have been, Superb Refereeing Allows Stunning Result.

So now we have our hero, and believe we will see him again very soon.

Our unlikely vindication came during France v. Honduras (match report) where, you guessed it, GLT was put into practice.

Take a look at this article from Dirty Tackle, it sums it up quite nicely.

I'll be honest, the coverage on this was awful as the commentators themselves had no clue, and frankly were not aided by anyone in the booth at all to get the correct angle.

Also the crappy image to animated goal line looks was awful. Just give us the 10 frames right before and right after it crosses ... that's all we need folks. By the way, the low bidder GoalControl system FIFA is using should have this raw feed from at least 14 angles as that is how it makes the determination.

So for now, a vindication of GLT, but with a need to put a much better public face on it. While (and I'm taking this somewhat on faith) accurate, absent a clean video feed it was clear that there was confusion all over the place ... from a system designed to remove that confusion.

Also, and finally, with this technology I believe it has advanced the wrong discussion. Instead of asking the AR, "What did you see?" or "Do you think you were in position?", it now serves to absolve the AR as the question becomes "what did the technology say?"

It also serves to open the gate for instant replay from FIFA's Dear Leader. You think GLT was a nightmare ... wait for this.

In or out matters, that is clear, but so does the humanity involved in managing such situations from the people asked to manage these matches. Stripping away that humanity bit by bit comes at an ultimate cost or losing it entirely.


  1. Well, you brought in GLT for a reason and here it is! Lets get the disclamier out there first tho, as with any sport that uses replay, some calls are really too close to call even with the ability to stop time so 100% of the population will NEVER be happy. From the first 3 or 4 views I saw it was very hard to say it was a good goal. Views were not the best and the goal frame was in the way. There was one frame shown from what would be the left side that to me looks like the whole ball did make it across, even if it was for just fracation of a second .. but thats it needs. Take the focus of GLT itself for a second and lets ask, had it not been there would the goal have been awarded. I say no ( I did not see it live so I am not sure if the AR gave any input). He was doing his job perfectly but a kicked ball travels must faster then we can run, making it impossible for him to be on the goal line at that exact moment. I am not a fan of letting technology take over, but in cases like this goals are what matter the most and if the cross the line need to be counted.

    I also really hated the fact this play happened because it is going to be the big talk item for a while and took away the spotlight from one of the best applications of an advantage I have ever seen. Most officals would be quick to whistle because the player was hauled down but a few moments were given, the player jumped back up to play on, and a game winning goal was scored ..... I may have gone back to caution after the fact, looked like was a tactical foul clearly made so stop any chance of a counter, but maybe thats too much salt in the wound.

    1. Steve,

      Great comments!

      Cautions after the fact are wonderful tools that are too often not used. It is a supreme sign of an accomplished referee who can let play continue on an advantage, allow a goal to be scored from it, and return to caution or send off the player who committed it.

      Keep in mind, a player does not get "absolved" of their crime simply because a goal results. They merely failed in their attempt.

      Thanks for reading!