Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spirit of The Game: A New Low for Soccer/Football


A classic story. France commits three violations (off side, two deliberate handballs) and directly scores a goal to tie Ireland. The goal is allowed to stand, and France unfairly beats Ireland on aggregate (that means they played two games and emerged victorious by goal differential/tie break). The referees seem to be absent on the play, missing all these infractions.

Why the uproar you ask? Why should Ireland care about losing a British game (Seriously, there are beautiful Irish stadiums throughout the country that forbid any sort of British based games to be played in them.. stemming from the famine and occupation atrocities of past centuries.. i digress.) to the French?

The key is what was at stake.

Despite the fact that gaelic football is more important than football/soccer, the Irish wanted to be part of the World Cup. Every country does. It's a global status symbol, and there is significant money involved.

FIFA likes to call their sport "the beautiful game" but sometimes it can be quite ugly. We have a world full of countries that raise players to dive and over exaggerate infractions to draw fouls. We have an outdated extra time system that makes no sense to the outside world. We have no replay or challenge mechanism in this day and age where these tools can easily be used to right the wrongs of normal human referee mistakes. I could go on with more stories of corruption and cheating throughout the world in this sport. It's not beautiful... it's downright ugly.

Ultimate... In the Same Position?

I can't be blind and say that ultimate and ultimate players are above making the wrong calls in games of importance. Put a worlds bid on the line and take out observers and cameras and we would have a much different game than we would otherwise.

However, I can say that ultimate has the following going for it

-Spirit of the Game, I think, has curtailed a lot of the incentive to cheat in most ultimate games. I rely on my opponent to make the right calls, and if order to do so I must in turn make the right calls as well. We can't rely on a 'parent' (observer) to step in.
-We're certainly open to using instant replay.. as was seen at CUC 2009.
-Our observer program seems to be growing and we are growing the pool of observers available for tournaments.


Batch said...

You didn't even mention Natalie Lambert of the University of New Mexico!!!

jitka said...

DAMMIT Ireland gets the shaft again!! Thank you for drawing attendion to this great injustice! =)

Bobo Eyrich said...

It's not really a new low. History is rife with problems in football. In the 1986 world cup, Diego Maradona deliberately scored a goal with his hand and went unpunished. The goal stood and Argentina ended up winning the tournament.

There is mention in the rules of the game that players should show spirit. But, with the addition of a referee it has deteriorated into what players can get away with. I used to be a fanatic football player but I tried to play a competitive game without a referee and lost some interest in the game. Players refused to accept when they had fouled opponents.

To me, what's a shame is that firstly Thierry Henry (the French player who handled the ball) celebrated after the ball went in and second after the game, when he consoled the Irish players they said that he was not the ref and it wasn't his fault. They blame the referee for not seeing the issue.

He should have recognized his foul and owned up. I'm a really big fan of Thierry Henry, he's an astounding player. Quite frustrating.

Sport Management Steven said...

Elizabeth Lambert of the University of New Mexico. What a lass! I love her apology statement (Essentially, I regret getting caught) for this:

I forgot about the "hand of god" goal!

It looks like Henry is living up to his classy rep by suggesting the game be replayed.

But FIFA still chooses to look the other way

T1000 said...

The instant replays at CUC2009 were enjoyed by the audience, of course, but Observers were required to ignore them (despite strong temptation, I imagine).

jhaig said...

Alex beat me to the punch. There was no instant replay at CUC2009.

I'm pretty sure that Ultimate is years if not decades away from using instant replay. We don't even have officials for most games. I'd think that would be the next logical step before we start talking about instant replay.

Daniel said...

The observers were supposed to ignore the instant replay but it didn't take long before some players who were unhappy with calls were asking their opponents to take a look at the replays.

The ideal situation would have been if they would not have been showing instant replays on the jumbotron but then the 29,000 empty seats in the stadium would have missed out on the replays (which was a hit with the fans).

Druski said...

The issue with instant replay is that even where it may be available (e.g. finals at CUC 2009) it is not necessarily controlled or universally accessible by unbiased officials (one major concern to using video/photo evidence is that it is far more likely to be made available by someone supporting the side that would benefit, and potentially could be withheld by a videographer/photographer if it did not benefit their side). This would need to be guaranteed before it could be considered for use in deciding calls. There would likely also need to be other procedures/standards in place to make sure it was actually useful and did not unduly slow down resolution of calls.

As such replays were not viewed by the observers before making a call (as usual, they were required to trust their own eyes rather than what was on screen); and at least by the end of the finals, replays were not shown until after a ruling.

I had no particular issue with replays being available (holds both players and observers to a high standard in trying to get things right based on what they saw initially), but in terms of official use in making rulings, they couldn't be and weren't used for the above reasons.

T1000 said...

I must admit that I prefer instant replay to the time-honoured tradition of instant re-enactment.