So, after watching the US-Slovenia game, I know that the US didn’t play well the first half allowing Slovenia to score two goals. In the second half, however, led by Landon Donovan, they turned it on and were able to tie it up. In the 86th minute, Edu scores a winning goal off a kick from Donovan that is called back by the ref. Every replay shows no foul by a US player but multiple fouls by the Slovenians who were bear hugging and head locking the US. It was a ridiculous call by a terrible ref who made multiple mistakes throughout the game (such as giving Findley a yellow for a ball that hit him in the face?). The bottom line is that fouls are called incorrectly fairly often. It is quite another thing to call a foul that doesn’t exist in any form. No replay showed, no commentator saw and no viewer saw any foul that could be attributed to the US on that play. This ref basically changed the Group C World Cup points by calling a nonexistent foul jeopardizing the US chances to make it into the knockout round. Giving a card when one isn’t due or not giving a card is different than recalling a winning goal in the final minutes of a World Cup game. This ref should never be assigned to another high level game – ever. Maybe Africa can deal with these arbitrary and phantom fouls but the rest of the world can’t – and shouldn’t have to. Let’s hope the US can focus and play against Algeria they way they played against Slovenia in the second half of today’s game and move on to the next round.
As an aside, I know refereeing is hard. I also know that other teams have had to deal with issues from refs as well (9 yellows in the Germany game) but this reeks because the ref will not disclose what he thought he saw as the foul. He is closed-mouthed and FIFA rules don’t require any kind of accountability. FIFA describes soccer and its organization as touting “Fair play” – in the words of Inigo Montoya – “I do not think this word means what you think it means.” How can a game be fair when the ref holds the result of the game in his hand regardless of actual behavior on the field. The game is no longer controlled by the players, but by the ridiculous and inconsistent calls of the refs.