It shows the mindset of some when the performances of Morocco and Iran are pushed into the background. The haste with which VAR ‘decisions’ are pushed into the headlines says much about the way football is reported today. A match is secondary.
Not for today’s headline writers and scribes how Iran spurned a late opportunity to dump Portugal out of the competition; this morning is about how the referees made decisions after VAR’s intervention.
There are several issues which VAR highlights. Firstly, the amount of guesswork in offside decisions; there were still arguments about whether a shoulder can be kept onside by a toe. Did VAR put a ruler against the screen to work out whether Iago Aspas was offside? When they told the referee, did they update Shakespeare? “For I mine own gained knowledge shows ONSIDE!”…
We then come to how poorly referees are making their initial decisions. Ronaldo being Ronaldo was given a free pass for a snide little haymaker, delivered with the effectiveness of dried grass. Yellow card for delivery, red for intent. The latter was the decision; the former the coward’s way out. Not for Señor Caceres the notoriety of dismissing the Goateed One.
As for the penalty given to Iran after review. Quite rightly, Caceres is receiving flak. While I celebrate the equaliser for the bloodied nose it dished out to Portugal, but honestly, if that was handball, I’m a Dutchman’s uncle – meet my nephew Johan, he’ll be writing this week. Why did the previously esteemed referee change his mind on such a weak moment?
The upshot of it all is that the worst possible combination for the knockout phase as Uruguay face Portugal. Two of the least adventurous teams ever to be labelled ‘Dark Horses’ meet and are ready to bore everyone to tears.
Spellcheck Didn’t Like It
It’s another opportunity to scout Lucas Torreira, about whom we are all suddenly becoming experts. Those ears though. I didn’t take a close look but maybe they flap while he runs, giving the Uruguayan the impression of floating across the pitch.
He was very industrious in yesterday’s heat. Russia were disappointing compared to their previous performances but that has more to do with finding their level, which is somewhere between Egypt and Uruguay. Quite a wide gap, I think. That Spain prefer to meet Russia says it all.
Today, Argentina’s World Cup reaches make or break point. Just like Germany, there’s a feeling that Messitina will do enough to qualify. Unless Iceland take full advantage of Croatia’s already confirmed presence in the knockout stage. Will VAR intervene to wreck or save Messitina?
In the other group, Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Tubs Shaqiri will move around the pitch much faster after FIFA, without any self-awareness or sense of irony, took some pounds from them for failing to honour sporting integrity. I’ll leave that one there for you to ponder.
Will Neymar get to sob his heart out on the pitch after the final whistle today? A Serbia victory is too delicious to think about. And also too far-fetched although there is also the prospect of Germany playing Brazil in the Round of Sixteen which will mess with FIFA’s seeding system.
Elsewhere, the staggering level of sexism in English football surfaced when former talentless Chelsea defender decided that his radio show needed some publicity. Jason Cundy, for that is how you spell his name not otherwise, thought women’s voices were too high-pitched for football commentary. Thought is obviously used in the loosest definition of the word.
Aside from the rampant sexism, we learned Cundy must have real problems around dog whistles.
Still Plenty of Work to Do
I don’t care if he apologised afterwards, there’s no place for his retarded view of women’s place in football. Why is everything about a female tempered with ‘so long as she knows her stuff’. Plenty of male commentators and journalists, not to forget bloggers, make a living from the sport without knowing anything about football. Why is it suddenly beholden on women to know their stuff? Jesus wept people; this is 2018, not 1818.
While we’re on the subject, with the growing number of female assistants and referees, how come none are on the FIFA list? Football commentary maybe the litmus test for how far football has come, but the governing body is the one which shows how much work there is still to do in promoting equality.