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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Controversy at the World Cup

Or should we say controversies.

First, there's the issue of the blown call that would have given the U.S. a 3-2 win over Slovenia and what looked to be a shot to advance out of its group into the elimination round.

Second, there's the implosion of the French team. My French colleagues held out little hope for Les Bleus after the embarassing way they reached the World Cup, and they went as far to say that they didn't think that the players cared all that much about the national team. Well, head coach (or manager, as they say in football) Raymond Domenech kicked striker Nicolas Anelka off the team after Anelka refused to apologize for a tirade. Then, today, the strength and conditioning coach quit, and the team itself refused to practice in solidarity with Anelka. The French team, not playing well anyway, is in tumult. They are embarrassing themselves and their country. Apparently, French captain Patrice Evra hasn't helped the situation.

Third, the referees seem to be blowing it beyond the U.S. game. The red card to Australia's best player, Harry Kewell, seemed overdone, and now Kewell will miss his team's next game. Then, today, the red card against Brazil's Kaka seemed absurd, given that a) the Ivory Coast player won an Academy Award for acting and b) the Ivory Coast team, to put it politely, lost its cool after getting blown out by Brazil (to put it impolitely, they played like a bunch of chumps at the end and tried endless cheap shots because they were outmatched).

Fourth, the prognosicators are getting it wrong, overestimating Italy (which drew with lowly New Zealand) and Cameroon (which, instead of reaching the next round, was the first team eliminated) and underestimating, among others, Uruguay, Japan, Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia, each of which has a decent shot to advance to the next round.

Still, for me, the abundance of yellow and red cards and some bad calls that I thought would be left behind in the qualifying rounds are starting to turn this World Cup into a major embarrassment. FIFA officials had better take note before the game loses more credibility.


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