1. And you even got some possible help from the referee… (Beckham dives much more badly than Totti)

  2. Is it me or do the USA seem a much better team than England? They can keep hold of possession, are comfortable on the ball, pass it around well, show plenty of movement, and score great goals (from open play no less!). After today’s performances, I’d be much more gutted if I was an American seeing how they probably deserved to beat Germany. England on the other hand…….

  3. But of course, you might still consider the wonderful soccer expressed by Korea. Their extraordinarily new tactics – ie, having all goals scored by the opponents cancelled by the referee – is definitely revolutionizing the way of playing soccer…

  4. I feel every sympathy for Italy, Spain & Portugal for the decisions that went against them, but all three were architects of their own demise to a certain extent for the way they played. However, those decisions reflect badly on the quality of the refereeing at this tournament, and shouldn’t deflect credit from South Korea, whose attitude has been a badly-needed breath of fresh air throughout the tournament.

    Whatever FIFA says about the problem stemming from the selection of officials from Fiji, The Maldives etc, remember it was Graham Poll (an Englishman) who ruled on the first two Italian non-goals of the tournament out.

    Time for some kind of video-aided fourth official, methinks, if it can be done without interrupting the flow of the game too much. The stakes are two high for things to carry on as the are.

  5. I’d make big differences among the three cases.

    Portugal was definitely playing badly since the beginning of the tournament, and in the match against Korea they had two players sent out, but the first red card was absolutely correct, and the second could have been avoided, but it wasn’t a scandal. So in the overall, perhaps the referee slightly helped Korea, but not more than any average referee with any average home team.

    Italy made some big errors in terms of attitude, and had very tired players. They didn’t play very well too, though they had problems with the referees since the second match, and four valid goals cancelled in the first phase, though they were goals scored on the edge of the offside, and it often happens that assistants make mistakes in these cases (so it wasn’t necessarily a plot). So the discussed decisions in the match against Korea were only the last of a series. In terms of pure game play, Italy didn’t play better than Korea, so they didn’t necessarily “deserve” to win the match – but without the referee cancelling their valid golden goal, they would undoubtedly have won the match.

    Spain, instead, played clearly better than Korea. They had many chances to score, and scored two clearly valid goals, which could very unlikely be cancelled by error. So, at the minimum, the referee was afraid of scaring the local (impressive) public.

    This does not necessarily add up in a plot; it possibly adds up in what in Italy has been called “psychological subjectivity”, which means that if you are a referee and must take an immediate (thus instinctive) decision about a very doubtful situation, and the home team, loudly supported by thousands of people in the stadium, is also known to be a very powerful team in terms of sport politics, you will possibly be pushed to decide in favour of it. Or, “if you have to make a mistake and favour someone, at least you should favour the politically strongest”.

    I know that there is some sort of inability to communicate on this between those countries where football is a matter of politics and one of the top 3-4 industries of the country (Latin America, southern Europe… and Korea too) and the anglosaxon countries where, happily, football is still just a sport. However, what has happened in this world cup is just the mirror of the direction in which the whole world is going – a direction in which business principles rule almost everything.

    [And surprisingly enough, this is the current result of the poll on the English version of sports.com:

    Has South Korea’s progress been helped by referees?
    Yes – but they have been genuine, honest errors by the officials

    No – they have outrun and outplayed most of their opponents

    Yes – it smacks of a conspiracy to get the hosts as far as possible

    No – Italy and Spain have made mountains out of molehills

    Number of Votes: 273]