Sunday, July 3, 2011

It's called football for a reason

BOCHUM, Germany -- This was worse than the Hand of God goal, when Diego Maradona scored against England with an illegal, but unpenalized, handball. Worse than the officiating at the 2010 World Cup, when Frank Lampard's 20-yard shot had bounced clearly over the line in the first half of the match, yet the goal wasn't given. It was even worse than Geoff Hurst's was-it-over-the-line-or-not goal, against West Germany in 1966.
On Sunday at the Women's World Cup, in a match between Equatorial Guinea and Australia, the inexplicable happened. Bruna, a defender for Equatorial Guinea, picked up the ball in her own penalty box for a good three seconds. The ball, mind you, was still in play, having just bounced off the goal's left side bar. Then Bruna nonchalantly tossed the ball to keeper Miriam like she was playing a game of pick-up at the park.

Miriam punted the ball back into action -- without a whistle, without even a peep from Hungarian ref Gyoengyl Gaal -- and moments later, Equatorial Guinea's Anonma scored in the 21st minute to level things at 1-1. That result could have led to robbing Australia of progressing in the tournament, but as it turned out, the Aussies ended up winning the match, 3-2.

"Some of the referee's decisions weren't the greatest," said Australian player Lisa DeVanna in grand understatement.

"Well, I think I saw something that everyone saw," said Equatorial Guinea coach Marcello Frigerio. "It was a quick scene and we had to focus on what the referee decided. I think it has happened very often that mistakes are made that people don't see."
But everyone saw this epic blunder once again calls into question the need for replay technology. But really, was it even needed in this case? Although the keeper's uniform and that of Bruna's were similar in color, the handball was painfully obvious. Think about it: When is the last time you saw a player not just handle, but hold the ball in the penalty box for so long?

It's called football for a reason. Apparently, someone forgot to get that memo to the officials on Sunday.

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