Thursday, November 19, 2009


For those of you in the US [who am I kidding, no one reads this blog; in the US or elsewhere], you may not be aware of the controversy surrounding France's "qualification" for the World Cup last night. Short story shorter: tied on aggregate after 90 minutes, the Ireland-France game goes to extra time, Thierry Henry controls a free kick with his hand twice, passes to Gallas who heads it in. Goal stands, inexplicably, and France wins. Lot's of other people cry "CHEAT"

I'm not sure this video will work (and it's shitty quality, but it's one of the few that haven't be pulled down)

I have two comments:

1. I've been saying for years that there's too much cheating (esp. Diving) in professional soccer and it's obviously that FIFA, UEFA and the national associations have no real desire to remove it from the sport. Henry's Hand of God moment may have been deliberate, or it may not have been; In the video it looks like he does move his hand to control it, but this is split-second action. In any case, my opinion has the refs in the sole position to judge legality. No Henry should not have gone up to the head ref and said "you know what, I controlled with my hand, strike it from the record." When I played high school soccer we were taught to "keep playing till you hear the whistle;" handball or not you just kept going.

2. As soon as Brent Hull says "I had my foot in the crease and I want you to remove my name from the Stanley Cup for that year" I will advocate the French Football Federation to do the same. I laughingly "hate" Brett Hull, but the fact that the Sabres got fucked lies solely on the NHL and the refs heads. Not on the individual player or the profiting party (although I admit, I took great pleasure from the Devils' win in 2000).

The pundits are correct; this further decimates football/soccer's image, but that is an administration-level problem, not an individual or national-team level problem. I am sure that every one of the screaming ninnies on the interwebs today have benefited from a blatant cheat (diving, embellishing, controlling with the hand...) by their national team or favorite club.

For soccer to remain above a farce FIFA, UEFA and the national associations must do the following:

1. Video replay on all goals of a controversial nature (offsides? handball? in/out?).

2. Institute a very strict post-match video review and crack down on diving. A warning and a fine for the first dive that results in a free kick in the offensive zone. 1 game suspension for a second offense of above or for a dive within 18 meters of the net. 2 games for yellow card drawn or an additional offense of above. 3 games for a red card drawn or an additional offense of above. How quick would diving leave the game? I bet that after a couple of suspensions for all-world players would greatly cut back on the diving.

What a dive may look like

Yes, video replay isn't perfect (see: Sabres, Buffalo, 1998-1999 Stanley Cup Winners), but it's better than the current system.

1 comment:

Jeff K said...

The video was already pulled down. Damn copyright infringers, taking food out of the mouths of television executives' babies!!!

Anyway, I like how you turned it around to mention Brett Hull "stealing" the Cup (that play looked much more organic and "legal" in real time, even though it was a cut-and-dried rule infraction). Personally, I think there should be video replay for goals (scoring plays, home runs, etc.) in every sport, because there's a lot at stake. As for diving, that's a judgment call that has to be made at the time and penalized harshly. While after-the-fact suspensions might cut down on it, I don't think it will completely go away.

Wait, I'm talking about soccer? Give me a call when it's being hosted in the US again in 2018 so I can watch our national team lose spectacularly again.