As someone who has spent countless hours yelling at referees, from both the field and the couch, I am by no means an apologist for the men in black. That said, the amount of scrutiny and criticism referees have been facing recently is perhaps even more excessive than usual. Currently the Euro 2008 linesmen are being stretched on the rack by the fans and the media, with the likes of Tommy Smyth declaring the offside ruling on Luca Toni’s goal today to be a ‘terrible call’. ESPN then proceeded to show the Axis replay 9000 times in a row to drive the point home, while the commentators repeated their same remarks over and over each time, while Tommy continued to not be able to walk a yard even in the shoes of an AYSO linesman, while I resisted the urge to punch myself in the face repeatedly.
The fact is, that call was a very difficult one to make. The ball was played in from well outside the 18, the players in question were on the six, and the Romanian defender was sprinting away from goal, such that he was practically out to the penalty spot just a fraction of a second after the ball was sent in to Toni. Processing all the crisscrossing players, spread out over that much space and moving at game speed, then making the right call in an instant is hard. Why do you think they get it wrong so often? Given that we can see they were wrong 10 seconds after the call, when they show the instant replay, why not let the officials take a peek as well?
Even as I’m writing this I’m not a huge fan of the idea, as along with other potential issues it would interrupt the flow and pace of the game – ultimately, it just seems unnatural to have instant replay delays injected into football soccer matches. I guess the question is, do we want to get the right call every time, or does the discussion, conjecture, money loss/gain, whining, crying, arguing, fighting, drinking and so on that follows every bad call constitute an essential part of the game of football?
Or, perhaps simply listening to Rob Stone and Julie Foudy talk about any subject for more than 30 seconds is enough to drive one to the brink of Cassano-like insanity?
Don’t worry there’s more: