Well, if the US victory over Algeria in the World Cup was not sufficiently dramatic for you, I do not think that you were paying attention. Landon Donovan’s goal in stoppage time means that we will not have to read the 500 pre-packaged diatribes against Koman Coulibaly – - the referee from Mali whose call disallowed a US goal against Slovenia –, which were certainly outlined if not already written in sportswriters’ laptops. Coulibaly’s blunder will recede into dim memory.
That is a good thing for Americans who have this idea that instant replay is a tool that sports ought to use in order to “get it right”. With regard to soccer, the folks at FIFA think that is merely a quaint idea and pass if off politely as one might ignore an idea proposed by a six-year-old regarding how to build a bridge. The thing to remember here is that FIFA “owns” soccer; Americans do not.
Think about this for just a moment. One of the most famous goals in the history of FIFA’s World Cup was Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal. It happened about 25 years ago and it was plainly and simply – - a blown call by the referee. FIFA is not considering – - nor did it ever consider – - reversing the call or putting an asterisk in their records as a result of the call.
In the qualification rounds to determine the 32 teams who would compete in the World Cup this year, France got into the tournament on a goal scored by Thierry Henry. Replay showed unambiguously that the goal was the result of a handball. Despite a formal protest from the victim – the Irish team – FIFA let the goal stand and put France in the tournament at the expense of the Irish. FIFA has no interest in instant replay; the fact that Koman Coulibaly was assigned to do a second game in this World Cup tournament says clearly that FIFA has no concern about bleatings in the press. It is their game and they shall do with it as they please. If Americans – or any other peoples – do not like that, they can choose not to compete for a spot in the 2014 tournament.
In case you think I am exaggerating here, let me give you a few comments made by FIFA’s head of refereeing, Jose-Marcia Garcia-Aranda. [Aside: I believe he leads the tournament in hyphenated names.] In a report on cbssportsline.com, this gentleman was quoted as saying he was “very very satisfied” with the game officials despite the fact that some of the in-game calls “were not fully correct”. Translation:
If you don’t like the way games are officiated, stick it in your ear.
However, FIFA is very concerned with violations of its “guidelines on fair play”. According to an AP report, FIFA is looking into the possibility of a sanction against the French coach, Raymond Domenech, because Domenech refused to shake hands with the South African coach after South Africa defeated France in the tournament. Given the fact that the French soccer mavens have already fired Domenech, I wonder what kind of sanction FIFA might consider imposing.
The reason Domenech was fired from his job at the helm of the French team is that the French team soiled itself publicly and in front of the world in this tournament. They put up about as much fight as the French Army did along the Maginot Line in 1940. In Domenech’s parting remarks, he showed that he must have been watching the games through a wormhole to a parallel universe because he said that the French team “showed real heart, real fight, real generosity of spirit out there [in their final game against South Africa].” If that is what he calls “heart” and “fight” there is no mystery as to why that team stunk it up so badly.
Or maybe the incinerated “muti” of vultures’ brains and aloe I mentioned a couple of days ago just put Bafana Bafana over the top and there was nothing the French could do to counteract it. I don’t think cheese and foie gras would have much power over smoked vultures’ brains… Zut alors!
I said last week that the Nigerian team was a collection of eleven athletes and not a team. In their game against South Korea, the Nigerian players were about 4 inches taller and about 30 pounds heavier at every position. Normally, good big athletes beat good small athletes – - except when the “little guys” play a coordinated team game and the “big guys” rely on freestyling and individual play. And so, Nigeria is going home while South Korea will extend their stay in South Africa for a few days.
Until this World Cup tournament began, I had not realized that Diego Maradona and Pele had an ongoing war of words that approached the level of an old-time pro ‘rassling feud. As the tournament teams were getting ready to depart for South Africa, Pele evidently said that the only reason Maradona was the Argentine coach was that Maradona was “broke and out of work”. Maradona’s response was that Pele should “go back to the museum”. Now if this was pro ‘rassling, we would have a “Texas Chain Saw Death Match In A Steel Cage” with “Loser Leaves The Planet” stipulations. Too bad this is FIFA’s show and not the WWE’s show…
Quick Quiz. Which organization is less concerned with the correctness of its referee’s calls?
Personally, I think this one is a dead heat…
Changing gears here, if none of Tiger Woods’ handlers/confidants/entourage knew anything about his extracurricular activities – - which appears to be the story of the moment – - can someone explain to me how it came to pass that Rachel Urchitel had her plane tix to Australia purchased and her hotel there booked. She says she did not do that. If none of the “entourage” did it, should not the image mavens he has on retainer recognize that means Tiger had to be the one who did? What is he paying those guys for?
Finally, Yankees’ pitcher AJ Burnett has allowed 23 runs in his last 20 innings spanning 4 starts. Writing about Burnett, Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun said:
“The thing is, A.J. Burnett is a .500 pitcher with .750 stuff and a .250 brain.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…