FIFA response to referee errors: cover up the evidence

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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