Football powerhouse? The Poms must get over it

2010-07-04 13:06

One couldn’t help but feel for the Paraguayan

pair of ­referee Jorge Larrionda and assistant referee (I still get tempted to

call them linesmen) Mauricio ­Espinosa.

The duo had the misfortune to deny England what proved to be a

legitimate goal against Germany.

Since then, the knives have been out and even world football

strongman Sepp Blatter has caved in and ­offered an apology to England and, to

some degree, Mexico.

An Isizulu saying goes: abantu abayi nganxanye bengewona amanzi,

which loosely translates as: “people will not always follow the same flow like

However, I would like to differ.

While action replays showed that midfielder Frank Lampard’s strike

was a “goal”, the two gentlemen should be cut some slack.

What really got my goat were the experts who sat in TV studios

­advocating that modern technology be introduced into soccer.

However, while they sat there and castigated the two Paraguayans,

they themselves failed to make full use of the technology at their


The experts – to a man – agreed that the referee or at least

the linesman (there I go again), the ­referee’s assistant, should have

seen that the ball had crossed the line.

While they showed us the positioning of the referee and his

assistant, none of them went further and showed the speed at which the ball was

travelling when it flew off ­Lampard’s boot.

I guess this is because it would have taken some sting out of their


From what I have seen, it would have been difficult for the

referee to make the call.

The assistant was in line with play when Lampard let fly but even

if he was blessed with the speed of Jamaican Usain “Lightning” Bolt – he who

covers 100m in 9.58 ­seconds – there was no way he could have reached the

corner flag by the time the ball thudded against the crossbar.

I sympathise with England captain Steven Gerrard, who said: “And

then to see that ball bounce behind the line and see the linesman 20m ­behind

play is very disappointing.”

But I can’t forgive the ­analysts and experts for not giving us

viewers the full ­picture.

They have all been in unison in slashing the referee and his

assistant, but when you look at the ­composition of the panels you cannot

help but note the big English ­presence.

For a country that last won the Fifa Soccer World Cup in 1966 when

they hosted the tournament, the Three Lions should start ­looking at the four

fingers pointing at them rather than the one pointing at the referee.

That England is a so-called ­football powerhouse – while some of us

wonder what that claim is based on – should not mean that when they sneeze the

football world should catch a cold.

There have been a number of bad decisions, including the red

card given to South Africa’s No?1 goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune, but the

world has not come to an end.

For football’s sake,

life must go on.


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