Posted by Rojas @ 12:38 pm on June 18th 2010

Regarding “The Call”

1. The official word we’re getting at this hour is that the call was made for “a tug in the box”. Exactly which US player was responsible for this “tug” is unclear, as is the question of how the “tug” was caught and the full-body embrace on Michael Bradley was somehow missed.

2. There IS a scenario in play in which the call makes sense: the referee screwed up the initial call on the foul on Altidore, was told so by his linesman, and had made up his mind before the kick to disallow any ensuing US advantage as a result. A classic “makeup call.” This would also explain why there has been no reasonable attempt at an explanation, as this is one of those things that every sport’s governing body knows happens, but never acknowledges. Reviewing the initial call for the foul leading to the free kick, I can see it going either way. I’m just the messenger, folks.

3. I suspect that FIFA will attempt to “make good” by upholding a challenge to the yellow card for the nonexistent first-half handball on Findlay, thereby allowing him to play against Algeria.


  1. I’m beginning to get the impression that FIFA isn’t the unimpeachable sporting purity organization I had once imagined.

    Comment by Brad — 6/18/2010 @ 1:01 pm

  2. Heh. Ya think?

    Actually, I don’t know that corruption is really the central issue here. FIFA’s under obligation to take refereeing crews from every confederation at the World Cup. They assigned one of the less experienced crews from one of the regions with less high-quality domestic leagues to one of the lower profile matches. He had to officiate at some point. The alternative would be not using African/Asian/North American/Oceanic referees at all, which would be a bit of a boondoggle politically.

    If you see this guy refereeing a round in the knockout stages…now THAT will be a problem.

    And let’s not forget that the Serbia-Germany game was officiated at least as badly, and that was a referee from…Spain.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2010 @ 1:04 pm

  3. Official story is that the foul was on Edu at the start of his run towards the ball. So now let’s go to the tape, shall we?

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2010 @ 1:32 pm

  4. Four hours later, I think I’m more pissed off than I was at the time. >:/

    Comment by Brad — 6/18/2010 @ 3:22 pm

  5. A much better take on why the ref called the penalty, that makes me feel better. A combination of dumb luck (of all the penalties going on, he just happened to be three feet away from the single one being committed by an American), and a default of the refs to fault on the side of calling for the defensive side rather the offensive, preferring to take goals away rather than give them.

    Comment by Brad — 6/18/2010 @ 6:48 pm

  6. Well, that’s interesting. And here are the problems with it.

    A. The claim that the amateur official is asserting in the article is that the foul was called on Bocanegra. Over the past several hours I have seen reports that the foul was a tug on Edu and an offsides on Bradley; his is the first assertion I have seen that it was on Boca. To what sources does this man have access that the rest of the English language soccer media doesn’t?

    B. If the foul WAS on Bocanegra, then how the hell has both the referee failed to mention that fact under repreated inquiry, and FIFA failed to mention it after hours of inquiries?

    C. This leaves unaddressed the question of WHETHER BOCANEGRA ACTUALLY FOULED THE GUY. Is it too much to ask the Post to run a photo of the alleged foul?

    I am unsatisfied in the extreme.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2010 @ 7:24 pm

  7. I added a thumbnail photo for you in your post. Still haven’t figured out how to do that proper, but there it is in any case.

    Comment by Brad — 6/18/2010 @ 8:02 pm

  8. Although I don’t know which (if any) is Bocanegra.

    In any case, I’m surprised that photo didn’t capture a Slovenian raping an American player somewhere in there.

    Comment by Brad — 6/18/2010 @ 8:08 pm

  9. Bocanegra is the guy being held in the headlock by the Slovakian #7. 0:34-0:36.

    It’s an outrage any way you slice it.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2010 @ 8:08 pm

  10. Heh.

    Comment by Brad — 6/18/2010 @ 8:09 pm

  11. Bocanegra is the guy being held in the headlock.

    That’s what I thought.

    Man. The shitty thing is: watching that replay, that was a beautiful goal. Against a team literally doing everything but stabbing the American side with homemade shanks, and I’m not even sure I didn’t see that in there somewhere.

    Comment by Brad — 6/18/2010 @ 8:11 pm

  12. My comment immediately before the play was “look for an inswinger onto Bocanegra’s head.” The irony (well, one among many) is that if he’s not being grabbed around the neck on the play, there’s every chance he gets to the ball before Edu and makes me look like a prophet.

    We never should have let ourselves be in this position, and we have every chance to make it irrelevant. But I am getting madder about this with every passing hour, and the attempts at “explanations”–while FIFA sits on its fucking hands and explains nothing–are making it worse.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2010 @ 8:15 pm

  13. I am ever more convinced that the story I hypothesize in the original post (the makeup call) is in fact the correct one. No other version makes even a modicum of sense, least of all the Washington Post version.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2010 @ 8:16 pm

  14. Henceforth I will use “Coulibaly” as a verb: “Man, did I coulibaly that one up.”

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2010 @ 8:18 pm

  15. Joe Posnanski argues that the call represents a meaningful lost opportunity in terms of building mainstream soccer fandom in the US:

    In the end, the draw gives the United States an excellent chance of advancing to the knockout round. If the U.S. beats Algeria, it probably will move on. But a victory would have given the U.S. an excellent chance to win the group. And a victory would have given a lot of people all across the country a moment to remember… and a story to tell when people asked, “So, when did you become a soccer fan?”

    Instead, it will baffle a lot of people who wanted something to remember. And it will give a lot of people who didn’t like soccer in the first place a chance to say: “What the heck was that?”

    FIFA: if Posnanski is right, this call cost you millions of dollars in cold, hard cash.

    If that bothers you, act accordingly.

    Behind the scenes, sure, in ways we will never know about. But act.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2010 @ 8:22 pm

  16. And now that I think of it, it doesn’t make sense to come down against the offensive team in cases of clusterfucks in the penalty zone. So all the defensive team has to do is bring socks full of quarters to the penalty area to reset it to a free kick whenever they want?

    Presumably, that close in, it’s the offensive team that already has the incentive to not foul, not the defense.

    Comment by Brad — 6/18/2010 @ 8:25 pm

  17. Man, that Posnanski post is heartbreaking. And probably the best thing that will be written about the incident.

    Two different takes from New Republic’s Goal Post (which has turned out to be a more literary/intellectual blog than I anticipated, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing).

    Alex Massie’s typically English take which amounts to first a half-hearted “you deserved it” but settles on “suck it up, lads.”

    And Stefan Fatsis drunk-blogging with a big “USA! USA!

    Comment by Brad — 6/18/2010 @ 8:49 pm

  18. Why wouldn’t Donovan be allowed to play with a yellow card?

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/18/2010 @ 10:11 pm

  19. To what are you referring, Jerrod? It takes two yellow cards (cumulative, not necessarily in any one match) to earn a suspension. The US might pull off some of their better carded players if they go up a couple of goals on Algeria to preserve them for the knockout stage, but there is no way Donovan doesn’t start the next match.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2010 @ 11:54 pm

  20. Dangit, I just typed the wrong name. I don’t know the players on our team well and you’d mentioned FINDLAY in your post and I remembered it as Donovan. I only caught the last 20 minutes of the game and missed the “handball”. But the question remains: why wouldn’t he be allowed to play?

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/19/2010 @ 2:49 am

  21. Because the yellow card is his second in two games. The accumulation of the two yellow cards makes him ineligible.

    I think a challenge might be fruitful, given that the second yellow card was ridiculous and that FIFA will be looking to split differences to assuage public opinion about the disallowed goal. But frankly, there is a decent argument for not playing Findlay in any case; he has not been effective at the cup and he is at any rate a one-dimensional player who is only useful in a countering style, which we must assume is not on the table in a must-win match. Buddle was red-hot in the pre-WC friendlies and could be given the chance.

    We really miss Charlie Davies right now.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/19/2010 @ 12:10 pm

  22. Worth noting, the Slovenia match drew a record number of viewers for ESPN (for a soccer match). 5.2 million viewers tuned in, on a weekday morning, to watch the U.S. get inexplicably robbed.

    Comment by Brad — 6/20/2010 @ 5:12 pm

  23. More than the England match? That’s bizarre.

    Meanwhile, a fun turn of events. Kaka, Brazil’s best attacking player, was sent off today for an outrageous second yellow in the 89th minute when an Ivorian player feigned injury after a forearm nudge. This did the Ivory Coast no good, as they were down two at the time.

    What it DOES mean is that Kaka is now suspended for the final group match. In which Brazil plays Portugal. Who will probably be grappling with Ivory Coast for the final qualifying spot out of the group.

    So Ivory Coast now has to hope like hell that the second yellow card, which they so disgracefully engineered, will be overturned. If I were Brazil, I wouldn’t even bother to appeal, and I would be sorely tempted to play a ninety minute game of kick-around just to screw Ivory Coast over.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/20/2010 @ 5:31 pm

  24. The call on Kaka, and IC’s engineering of it, was indeed rather disgraceful. But in the six minutes leading up to that call, I was astounded by the dramatic acting, continual feigning of injury, and nearly Italian level of disgraceful pretend injuries on the part or Brazil. For five solid minute is seemed there was a player in yellow falling to the ground in apparent agony, only to arise 30 seconds later if no call was issued. If I believed in karma, I would call the yellow card on Kaka cosmically earned. But still, disgraceful BS from the IC player.

    Comment by Jack — 6/20/2010 @ 9:45 pm

  25. I am in agreement about the fake injuries. I went off on this in one of the liveblog threads.

    As Brad has noted, I am not somebody who cares very much one way or the other about anti-soccer animus in the American media. American soccer now has a fan base that ensures the perpetuation of our domestic league and a reasonably solid national team; the bleating of soccer haters is at this point immaterial.

    But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some perfectly good reasons to hate soccer, several of which the American complainers cite prominently. And the goddamn writhing around on the ground heads the list.

    Now, I fully understand that the soccer establishment doesn’t (and perhaps can’t) back my feeling that any player who dives should get an immediate yellow card (and a second one for a second infraction) and that any player removed from the pitch for injury should have to stay off for five minutes minimum. But GODDAMNIT, this is the second straight World Cup in which a ludicrous feigned injury has provided a direct and immediate competitive benefit to the team faking it.

    If the officials and commisars of the sport can’t be bothered to clean up this travesty, can we at least ask that the manner in which they officiate not incentivize such behavior?

    Comment by Rojas — 6/20/2010 @ 11:58 pm

  26. If you want to see some more bad officiating, check out the Chile vs. Switzerland match, two teams overperforming (or maybe just two great teams), in an important spot, and in the first 30 minutes we get 5 yellow cards and 1 red and Saudi Arabian referee Khalil Al Ghamdi seemingly putting himself right in the middle of every big play in the game. And, naturally, guys falling all over themselves to writhe on the ground and take advantage.

    Comment by Brad — 6/21/2010 @ 10:34 am

  27. 8 yellows and 1 red in 60 minutes of play, and at least 1 player out for the next game, and twice now when the ref has stopped play for inexplicable reasons to call a drop ball. Commentators on ESPN are openly wondering whether the ref is, literally, insane. Not figuratively, but whether the guy has just lost control of the game and is now totally confused and booking entirely on every dive. And the entire field is awash with writhing players.

    “The replay shows that Von Bergen got the tiniest of shoves on the neck by Medel for the earlier flashpoint, and he turned away with hands on his face like he’d been hit by lightning. Football can get ridiculous when its like this.”

    Comment by Brad — 6/21/2010 @ 11:24 am

  28. 0-0, btw, with Switzerland now officially holding the record for total time played without allowing a goal (552 minutes and counting).

    Comment by Brad — 6/21/2010 @ 11:26 am

  29. Chile score. Record for longest time played by a country without allowing a goal: 558 minutes (approx 6 and a half games).

    Comment by Brad — 6/21/2010 @ 11:34 am

  30. Chile scored largely because they were playing for a full hour while up a man due to an undeserved red card.

    This is becoming unwatchable, and I say that as a soccer fan. This has to stop. There is no way they can grow the game if this is the product they’re putting in front of people.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/21/2010 @ 12:17 pm

  31. The upside is that with the Portugal rout today, we now have a chance to watch Ivory Coast run up the score on North Korea to try to catch up on goal difference. There’s every possibility that North Korea will come out of this cup with the worst goal differential of any team ever.

    My guess is that Kim Jong Il will, at that point, cease to claim that he’s directing their tactics by telepathy.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/21/2010 @ 12:19 pm

  32. What’s weird is, at least in this game, you would think that the refs had never seen it before, like they’re standing their going “Oh heavens! What carnage!” Is league play so much different? Or did FIFA prime the refs to fault on the side of calling fouls for some reason?

    Comment by Brad — 6/21/2010 @ 12:19 pm

  33. The upside is that with the Portugal rout today, we now have a chance to watch Ivory Coast run up the score on North Korea to try to catch up on goal difference. There’s every possibility that North Korea will come out of this cup with the worst goal differential of any team ever.

    My guess is that Kim Jong Il will, at that point, cease to claim that he’s directing their tactics by telepathy.

    Yeah, instead he’ll just start executing midfielders. :(

    NK didn’t look bad that first half, and I was really starting to wonder if they might not be overperforming, but just a solid, well-drilled, aggressive team. And then, the second half started. :) Ba-Jesus. What was weird was I think all 6 goals came from 6 different players, including a sub who scored on his first touch. They were practically pulling people out of the stands for “score a goal in the World Cup!” day.

    Comment by Brad — 6/21/2010 @ 12:22 pm

  34. Yeah. If those poor bastards weren’t planning on defecting before, now would be a good time to consider it. I would NOT want to get off that plane in Pyongyang.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/21/2010 @ 2:27 pm

  35. So if he was redcarded as a result of a second yellow, was the US playing a man during their comeback? Or do you not have to give up the roster spot for a “second-yellow=red”?

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/21/2010 @ 5:05 pm

  36. No. Two yellows; one each in two different games. That didn’t require him to leave the second match, but it does require him to miss the following one (Algeria).

    The US will field eleven players against Algeria; Findlay just won’t be one of them. And that’s OK.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/21/2010 @ 8:09 pm

  37. Ah, I totally misunderstood the rule. I thought two yellows in consecutive games was a red. So two yellows in the SAME game is a red and the team goes a man down to boot. Two yellows in consecutive games and you miss the following game. if you play a game with no yellows, you’re free and clear?

    Thanks for explaining. sorry for the ignorance.

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/22/2010 @ 7:50 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.