BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

With the USA being knocked out by Ghana last night the Mexicans represent the North and Central American federation’s final chance of a place in the last eight of World Cup 2010 and standing in the way of that aim are the not insurmountable nation of Argentina.

The two sides have remarkable similarities in their World Cup – albeit less impressively for the Mexicans – with teams that attack well but have some questions at the back the majority of which are answered with statements about how great the defenders are at attacking. Rafael Márquez has been got to at the back for Mexico, but he does play a great ball forward.

The Mexicans started well and attacked with vigour. Carlos Salcido drove in from the left win and crashed a a long range shot against the bar, minutes later Andrés Guardado drove wide. It was a healthy start and late in the second half Javier Hernández took a ball into his feet, turned the Argentine defence and slashed the ball in.

In-between the Mexicans had suffered from action, inaction and reaction.

Action in the form of Carlos Tévez who took the ball from the edge of the box and taking two steps forward and hit an unstoppable shot past Óscar Pérez to give the Argentine side a third. It stunned the viewer.

A reaction as the Mexicans were stunned when a heavy, poor touch from Ricardo Osorio gave up possession to Gonzalo Higuaín who slotted the ball past Pérez for a second goal. The defence, the Mexican team, stifled by rage.

An inaction after a rage as the Mexicans – on top of the game – saw a pass forward reach Martín Demichelis who had Pérez dive at his feet and push the ball out to Lionel Messi who chipped the ball back to Carlos Tévez – offside past the last two defenders and the goalkeeper – who headed in.

Controversy would have been rife anyway but when some South African stadium worker decided to show the incident – the horrific mistake – on the big screen to be seen by all.

Whatever the workings of Italian referee Roberto Rosetti’s thought process his outcome is wrong. Perhaps he knew that their was a debate on video technology in football fanned by Frank Lampard’s goal against the Germans which was ruled out despite being a meter or so behind the line. Perhaps he was aware that Sepp Blatter would be watching him and knew the man’s feeling on video in the game. Perhaps he wanted to ensure that the decision made by the Referee was put above everything, even the truth.

Rosetti had a choice of two evils. To allow the ad hoc use of video technology against what he would wish or to allow a goal which he knows to be wrong. To make a decision based on evidence he did not want but nevertheless would be the right decision.

Either way before the restart of the game Rosetti had seen the incident again and gave a goal. The Referee must be right – he seemed to say – even when he knows he is wrong.

It was high handed to the point or arrogance and shameful. The Mexicans reacted poorly and conceded another as a result because goals change games and this would permanently perverted this one.

Football is a game about goals. Goals are rare in games and as a result they are massively significant. They change the tides in a game and force the way that teams have to play. Teams can defend a draw until a goal is scored, a losing team will chase goals and made concessions more likely, teams in the lead have less of a need to score goals. The point of football is the goals and to knowingly give one which is false – or to miss an obvious one – is to damn football.

It is to render the chief mechanic of the game redundant. To change the physics of football. To break the narrative, robbing it of any glory.

27th of June 2010 is a dark day for the World Cup. Twice today the match became broken and – for all the self flagellation of the English – the games would have been different. It is poison in the well from which football draws its World Champions.

A note for Argentina who – once again – are a team who play good football but lack honour. If Lionel Messi wanted to be crowned the best football in the world – and to exceed his loathsome manager Diego Maradona or if Maradona wanted to replace the tarnished crown some would have him wear – then the Argentine Messi would have taken the ball after the goal and scored a honourable goal in his own net.

Imagine the sight of Maradona pointing Messi to play the ball into his own goal. The sight, the sportsmanship. It was beyond the Argentine side who win, but win without class.

The phrase “My game is fairplay” is hollow today.


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