World-class mistakes

“A clear mistake.”
That’s what FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said the day after after a referee botched a should-have-been offsides call that resulted in a World Cup goal in Sunday’s match between Argentina and Mexico.
Maingot wasn’t describing the no-call, though.
He was referring to the offsides play being shown over and over again on the stadium’s big screen — for the crowd, the players and the official himself to see.
Maingot was more worried about the replay monitors than the fact that sneaky Carlos Tevez cheated in the first place by starting his run 10 feet behind the Mexican defenders.
Once Mexico’s players saw the replay, they had all the ammo they needed to argue the call — to no avail, of course.
Just a few hours earlier, England was shorted a goal against Germany that bounced off the top crossbar and over the line. The ref didn’t see it, the goalie picked the ball up and play continued.
In the World Cup’s knockout stage, fans across the globe are realizing what American fans already found out the hard way: soccer needs to be kicked into the 21st century.
The U.S. wasn’t happy after two of its goals in pool play were nullified for no apparent reason, and FIFA officials later apologized.
Those bad calls were one Landon Donovan goal away from keeping the U.S. out of the World Cup’s knockout stage.
There were outcries in the U.S., but the Americans still qualified before losing to Ghana. And neither of the goofs on Sunday cost the Mexicans or the English, because they each lost by more than one goal anyway.
Luckily for FIFA, no one’s been cheated out of a World cup match…yet.
Eight teams remain, though. If the trend continues, somebody’s going to be eliminated — not by another team, but because of a referee.
We’d hate to say it rest of the world, but we told you so.
Before Sunday, this was just a bunch of arrogant Americans whining about a sport that ranks fifth or sixth on the nation’s totem pole of athletic interest.
Americans have been accused of being naïve and ignorant — just rookies when it comes to appreciating the world’s most beloved game. Once every four years, they dig their red, white and blue face paint out of the closet and pay attention.
“It is the American media who fails to take a moment to understand the sport,” Ernesto Castrejon, a blogger for, wrote.
Uhh…kick the ball into the goal. It’s not that complicated.
In fact, soccer’s simplicity is what makes the game so great.
But it can also be near-painful for Americans to watch.
Take the frequent fish-out-of-water flopping.
I grin and bear it when a player rolls around the ground in pretend agony, sneaks a peek to see if the referee is looking and hops right back up after receiving the “magic spray” (a.k.a. a bottle of water that somehow heals the flagrant faker when applied, especially if the official decides to pull out a colored card for the opposing team).
I can even tolerate the upward-ticking clock that doesn’t stop, even though the whistle blows (We do have automatic clocks now that could keep track of the time for the official. Maybe then the ref could concentrate on other things, like getting the calls right).
Fine, soccer. Keep all of that.
But don’t cheat teams out of goals.
Castrejon went on to write, “In fact, the American journalists seek the perfection in the game of soccer because of the strive for perfection as a society in American culture. To treat everyone equally.
“Hence, their version of the bill of rights in soccer — all calls must be justified be the ref.”
Is that so unreasonable? Heck, I’d settle for just the goal calls being justified.
Let me put it in “American” terms:
A goal is like three touchdowns in football. A grand slam in baseball. A half-court shot in basketball.
FIFA, you want soccer to grow in the U.S.? Then don’t take goals away, not unless you’re darn sure of it — from every camera angle.
FIFA President Joseph Blatter said the file on goal-line technology would be reopened at the next meeting of the International Football Association Board on July 20-21 in Wales.
They’ll discuss everything from instant replay to goal-line technology to placing more than just one single field ref on the massive, 100×120-yard soccer pitch.
It’s a start.
But if nothing’s done about the goal-line goofs — that would truly be “a clear mistake.”