Posts Tagged ‘World Cup’

Brazilian women cheated and paid the price against the US in World Cup quarter finals

July 13, 2011

It’s nice to see cheaters caught and punished, and especially rewarding when their cheating costs them a victory that was almost in the bag.

In the Women’s World Cup (soccer) quarter-finals Brazil led the US 2-1 with time running out. Brazilian defender Erika (Brazilian players don’t use their last names, presumably because they’re so famous: think Kobe. Wilt, Magic, Manny, etc) faked injury and fell to the ground, writhing and moaning. The delay would rob the Americans of the slim chance they had to tie the game.

Erika was carried off the field strapped to a stretcher, then, once off the field, rolled off the stretcher and raced back into play. (Video here) Not so fast: the referee gave her a yellow card and put three extra minutes back on the clock. The US scored in the extra time, and won on tie-breaker penalty kicks.

The referee got it right this time. Unfortunately the referees don’t get it right every time, and soccer has no instant replay. As a result games often turn on “diving”—falling to the ground to make the ref think you’ve been fouled. Soccer should take the simple step needed to disincentivize diving: (more…)

Playing soccer (football) with head scarves can cause choking, so FIFA disqualifies Iran’s women

June 14, 2011

Soccer, aka futbol, aka futebol, aka football, is also known as the beautiful game. It’s the closest thing there is to a universal sport, played in over 200 countries. It’s championship game, the World Cup final, player every four years, draws a television audience of over one billion, according to FIFA, the international governing body.

FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) rules soccer internationally. And corruptly: its board is rife with bribery, which is apparently why it awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, where summer temperatures reach over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

And it rules arbitrarily, inconsistently, and ugly, as when last week it disqualified the Iran women’s team for wearing head scarves to their match with Jordan. Why? Because head scarves were dangerous. Don’t you know, they’re a choking hazard. As a result Iran won’t have a chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.

The issue has come up before, and FIFA reversed an earlier ruling against head scarves (more…)

World Cup: How to stop the kind of cheating that got undeserving Netherlands to the final

July 9, 2010

Here we go again. A World Cup elimination game decided by an illegal play. But this one is of a different character than when Uruguay striker Luis Suarez used his hands to slap away a sure game-winning goal by Ghana. Suarez’s action was forthright, against the rules, duly penalized, but smart. Bad for the game, but not something one could brand as unethical. I proposed a rule change that would eliminate such plays.

But when Netherlands star Arjen Robben fell to the ground, writhing in pretended pain from pretended contact from the Brazilian defender (diving, in world footballspeak), he cheapened the game. The referee was fooled by Robben’s deception into awarding Holland a free kick, which was converted into the deciding goal in a 2- 1 win that ended Brazil’s hopes of another championship.

Robben cheated, and it got his team into the semi-finals against Uruguay, who they beat, 3-2. Now only Spain stands between the Dutch and the championship. It’ll be sad for the game if the Dutch win, their trophy forever tarnished by the way they won it.

There are three ways to reduce the incentive for players to dive: (more…)

World Cup: Uruguay defeats Ghana on Suarez hand ball: cheating or smart soccer?

July 5, 2010

The World Cup has offered a lot of exciting soccer plus some serious controversy. The most controversial incident came in the quarter-final match between Uruguay and Ghana, in the 120th minute (that is, the last minute of overtime).

Ghana had been awarded a free kick, and the Ghana player unleashed a strike toward the net. The Uruguayan goal keeper leaped and missed the ball. It was the game-winning goal, until…Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez stretched his hands up and slapped the ball away.

Suarez’s action violated Law 12 of soccer’s official rules:

A player is sent off if he …denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)

So Suarez was sent off (i.e., kicked out of the game) and Ghana was awarded a penalty kick—an unchallenged kick from twelve yards from the goal. Penalty kicks are converted to goals about three quarters of the time, but Ghana’s star striker, Asamoah Gyan, hit the crossbar with his kick. The game then proceeded to a shootout (alternating penalty kicks by either side), which Uruguay went on to win, 4-2. Ghana was eliminated from the World Cup, while Uruguay goes on to play the Netherlands in Tuesday’s semi-final match, but without Suarez, who was suspended for one game.

Did Suarez cheat? Not according to his coach (more…)

FIFA response to referee errors: cover up the evidence

June 29, 2010

When you make a mistake the ethical thing to do is to correct it as best you can and take action to prevent a recurrence. Right? Not if you’re the head of FIFA, the world’s soccer federation (football everywhere but in the USA) running the world’s biggest—by far—sporting event.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa has been beset by ugly and blatant refereeing errors that cost the USA team a win against Slovenia, and disadvantaged England and Mexico in their losses to Germany and Argentina.

The most egregious error was the referee disallowing a clear England goal when Frank Lampard’s shot hit the crossbar and bounced a good yard beyond the goal. Instead of tying Germany, 2-2, a disappointed England team went on to lose, 3-1. Just three hours later, another referee gave Argentina a go-ahead goal on a ball hit by a clearly offside Carlos Tevez (see photo).

When the Tevez play was replayed on the stadium’s giant TV screen, the fans erupted and the Mexican players protested to the referee. But the referee held his indefensible ground.

FIFA’s response? “FIFA will not make any comments on decisions of referees on the field of play.” But they did admit one mistake: close plays are not to be shown on stadium TV screens anymore, because it incites fans and leads to on-field arguments. Yes, the truth often does that.

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Nike takes in billions from official World Cup team jerseys made by $4/day workers

June 28, 2010

I watched the USA soccer team win its group in the World Cup, then lose to Ghana in the knockout round. Then I turned to my second favorite team, Brazil. I’m part of a World Cup television audience of more than a billion fans, and like most of them I lusted after the official team jerseys—a white USA shirt, perhaps, with number 10, Donovan, on the back, or a brilliant yellow and green Brazil shirt, also with number 10, Kaká. No, I think I like best the red and green number seven jersey of the world’s best player, Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo. Seventy dollars for the home jersey, sixty for the more colorful away version. But I won’t be buying any.

All these official jerseys are made by Nike. Well, actually, Nike doesn’t make any sports gear. The shirts are made by a Nike contractor in Indonesia, whose workers earn $4/day, barely enough to pay rent, transportation, water, and two small bowls a day of rice and vegetables.

Nike long ago took the position that it has no responsibility for the pay or working conditions in the factories that make Nike gear, but over the past ten years it has slowly (more…)


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