2010 FIFA World Cup: America's Ire on Disallowed Goal a Good Thing for Football

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2010 FIFA World Cup: America's Ire on Disallowed Goal a Good Thing for Football
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I objected yesterday to the use of what I considered objectionable language on air by ESPN commentators. Ian Darke, the English commentator, had condemned Koman Coulibaly's yellow card call against Findley for a perceived a handball in the penalty area of Slovenia.

Coulibaly was wrong. It was a mistaken call. Darke called it the stupidest call he had ever seen. This was still early in the game. Darke's language struck me as condescending.

I had tried in that article to point out that I wasn't in support of the disallowed goal by Coulibaly as the goal could have certainly stood. I only pointed out that the players (Slovenians and Americans) were fouling each other in the box, and that in such a situation, decisions usually favor the defending side.

I had written this before an article in the Washington Post which appeared later in the day had been published. The article provides a good and vital perspective on the situation. Find it here .

I may have overreacted to the situation, as respondents to my article seemed to think. In any case, passions reigned after the match, understandably. The outrage of US fans around the world for the disallowed goal may just be the factor that could force FIFA to rethink their stance on instant video replays.

FIFA has rejected calls to integrate video replays into officiating, arguing that this would affect the flow of the game. But for a game touted, not without reason, as the No. 1 game in the world, perhaps a few minutes added to a match to ensure fair officiating on difficult calls may not be too big a price to pay.

Over the years, fans have agonized on questionable calls such as Coulibaly's disallowed goal. The problem with calls in a soccer match is that once a call is made, it is irreversible. In fact, though you see players protesting these calls, it is a vain endeavor.

Although not a good thing for the USA surely, the disallowed goal may turn out to be the silver lining in the sky. Now that an influential nation has suffered the blunt of a bad call, perhaps FIFA will listen.

African teams or less influential nations have suffered from such calls in the past. Eto'o insinuated recently that the rest of the world might not be ready for an African team to win the World Cup yet. His insinuation is not  without reason.

In Italia 1990, Cameroon was on the brink of making the semifinal but two penalties awarded to England in the last quarter of the game put paid to that. It requires little imagination for suspicion of conspiracy to hatch (although this might be mistaken, of course).

Nigeria, my home country, has suffered from bad calls in the past. Her Olympic soccer team only won the '96 soccer gold medal because the team was a prolific goal scoring side. Argentina, the team she played in the final, had gone ahead in the early minutes, but Nigeria replied soon enough, after which a questionable penalty was awarded to Argentina.

Nigeria overcame this hurdle to win Africa's first Olympic gold medal in soccer, but what if she didn't?

The story did not end as happily in the final of the 2005 under-23 championship, where Nigeria played Argentina and the latter won via two penalty kicks. Granted, I may be subjective in my assessment of these examples, but what if there were instant video replays to clarify and settle these cases?

Americans are rightly enraged. By the way, my sympathies were with America, being one of the countries I support in major tournaments, as I have said elsewhere. That this goal controversy comes early in the competition is  good a good thing, especially with Thierry Henry's handball escapade still fresh in the world's consciousness.

FIFA may soon find  that they may no longer be able to disregard the obvious: incorporate video playbacks in the game. If they want to preserve spontaneity in the game, I'm sure the human mind is ingenious enough to find a way to do so.

As to my previous article on the subject, referenced here, as I said to one of the respondents to the article, let's agree to disagree. Meanwhile, I hope the US fans  continue to register their ire to FIFA. This might just force FIFA to take action.

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