Despite being hammered by Spain in their opening match, the Ukraine are through to the round of 16 as Group H’s runner-up, after this morning’s 1-0 defeat of Tunisia. Andiry Schevchenko’s 70th minute penalty was the margin, though a tie would’ve been enough for the Ukraine, given Spain’s JV team having their way with Saudi Arabia, 1-0.
Schevy’s penalty and the sending off of Zied Jazieri were hotly contested…like virtually every major refereeing decision of the tournament. The Guardian’s Sean Ingle suggests that FIFA employ some high-tech assistance.
First, football is faster and more frantic than ever before. Second, there are fewer goals than ever before, which also exacerbates the impact of poor refereeing. Decisions may even out over a season, but they rarely do so over the course of a match.
Technology would clearly help. Yesterday, Ghana were given a penalty that wasn’t, while Australia were robbed of one that was. Within 10 seconds of both incidents, TV replays had made this stunningly clear.
Sure, video evidence would slow the game down slightly, but not as much as the luddites would have you believe. The ball is only in play for 60-odd minutes anyway and double-checking, say, a goal-line clearance, penalty or offside appeal would add seconds not minutes. If there were any doubts at all about the TV replays, the referee’s original decision would stand.
Introducing technology would also change the risk v reward debate that zips around a player’s head: there’d be no incentive to dive for a penalty when someone in the stands could alert the referee, who would soon be waving yellow in your direction. And why pretend to be punched, when in 30 seconds’ time you’d be receiving red for play-acting?
Clearly there’s a balance to be struck between maintaining the flow of the game and making the right decision but if other sports can do it, so can football. Ultimately, it boils down to what is preferable: a 30-second delay in play, or the Hand of God? Getting it right, or allowing cheats to get away with it? Certainty, or random chance?
Switzerland and France will advance from Group F ; the latter beating Korea, 2-0 to win the group, while runners-up France handled Togo, 2-0, courtesy of goals from Patrick Viera and Thierry Henry (above, right) after the intermission.
Believe it or not, there might be football commentary taking place during this World Cup every bit as bad as that offered by Brent Musberger and Marcelo Balboa. OK, that probably isn’t true. But poor just the same. From the Times’ Giles Smith.
Yesterday UKTV was the only place to watch Ghana versus the United States, live and unexpurgated. Thus, wobbly scenery and bad jokes or not, the channel became a compulsory stop for those of us who, over the past fortnight, have decided that we rather like the cut of Ghana™s jib.
And we were amply rewarded with victory and progress, though not before John Anderson, the UKTV commentator, had accused Ghana of œnaivety at this level. Blimey, that took one back. In the World Cups of yore, œnaive was routinely used by pundits in the description of African nations and was, essentially, the default synonym for œblack.
But as enlightenment slowly dawns, even across the punditry business, œnaive has been seldom heard in Germany. To the extent that the notion flickers on at all, it seems to be in the shape of the slightly more politically acceptable œgullibility, as in the John Motsonism from earlier in the tournament: œI think there was a bit of Ghanaian gullibility about that second goal, wasn™t there? Of course, in terms of simple things such as being able to pass the ball, retain a formation or mark up at a set-piece, whom, on the evidence of Germany 2006, would you call the more naive ” Ghana or England? Come to that, whom would you call the more gullible? Anyway, Ghana march on, and thank you, UKTV, for sharing it with us.
On a broader point of etiquette, one noted with some disquiet the failure of Rio Ferdinand to remove his iPod for an interview the other day. Now, one realises that answering simple questions from the likes of Garth Crooks and Gabriel Clark is one of those low-watt activities that a person can perform perfectly well, even while engaged in something else altogether more absorbing, such as watching a programme on the television or doing the ironing or completing a Samurai Su Doku. Even so, it does seem a bit rude, not to say a touch discouraging, not to give Garth, Gabriel and Co at least the semblance of one™s full attention when they take the trouble to come a-calling, so I think if Rio could try to remember, from now on, to get his plugs out, we would probably all benefit in some small way and a standard of decorum would be maintained.
Responding to England’s defensive negligence against Sweden on Tuesday, Sven Goran Erikkson declared “I’m not married To David Beckham.” Good thing, too, as I don’t think the England captain would be very patient with Sven’s zipper problems (or vice versa).