(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Why Doesn't FIFA Sign Up the Guys Who Officiated the '72 Olympic Men's Hoop Final While They're At It?

Accountability doesn't extend to FIFA's overlords, apparently. They added to the roster of officals the guy who blew the obvious hand ball call in the World Cup qualifier between Ireland and France. Click here for the story.

This type of management arises from senior managers who are accountable to no one. Their attitude is, "hey, not only did we not make a mistake regarding that referee or that game, this guy's a terrific referee based upon past performance in the clutch, so we're going to give him access to the biggest stage possible." Have you ever worked in a place like that? Decisions like that do wonders for credibility and morale, but if the business is a cash cow, I suppose there are always a few places where you can stash Fredo Corleone and not get hurt.

You wonder why FIFA did this. Is is that the others on the list don't pay bribes to the governing body to keep their jobs, made worse decisions such as puking on Carlos Renaldo before a big game between Portugal and Spain, or sleeping with the spouse of the guy who heads up the South African soccer federation and posting their first dinner date on YouTube? Or, if FIFA's guys are about as honest as the folks on the International Olympic Committee who planned the winter games in Utah over a decade ago, such that they putting a guy on the roster whom they control so completely that when some Russian Oligarch or international media baron over whom it's hard to get jurisdiction in any democracy wants to manufacture the outcome, they'll put this guy in charge of that game?

Look, the referee in question had a bad game, but it was a bad game at a critical time in the qualifying for the World Cup, and it dashed an underdog country's hopes. That referee shouldn't be officiating in this World Cup; he should have a chance for redemption somewhere else, but not here. And FIFA need only to look to Major League Baseball for recent precedent. Some umpires originally designated to work the World Series were yanked from the roster after they made questionable calls in the prior rounds of the playoffs. The result -- the best umpires umpired the World Series, and people remember only the fine play of the Yankees, the pitching of Cliff Lee and the batting heroics of Chase Utley, not the name of any umpire who caused a controversy.

Let's watch FIFA's governing board and decision makers closely. They're likely to blunder more before the tournament starts this summer.


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