Let's start this off by saying that I'm Canadian. I don't have a national soccer team that could compete with your little sister's league let alone World Cup qualifiers. Nevertheless, I love the beautiful game and have chosen Holland as "my team" for the last three World Cup tournaments.
That being said, this article tries to remain completely unbiased, regardless of the tough loss for Holland last night at the hands of Spain.
Last night's World Cup Final match-up between Spain and the Netherlands could have gone one of two ways. It would either be bursting with the excitement of dazzling 40 yard goals, or a defensive battle that kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
It was neither.
The final event of an overall great World Cup was marred by the recurring theme from some very important matches throughout the tournament: poor refereeing.
If there's one rule in soccer that upsets me, it's the second yellow card = red card rule. In the 109th minute, when both team had already been given a total of 9 yellow cards, Netherlands defender John Heitinga his second yellow (meaning a red) and was sent off, leaving the Netherlands a man short for the rest of the match.
Worst call of all time.
Here's my problem with it. A defender commits a foul to hopefully prevent a goal so he is penalized. Fine.
The foul was also not at a degree of intensity to warrant an automatic card, but it was still more than just a little shove. Therefore the referee believes a yellow card should be given. THAT'S the problem.
The ref didn't give Heitinga his second yellow in the 109th minute, he game him a red card. A red card that lost the World Cup for the Netherlands.
There is no such thing as a second yellow, and it is officially the worst rule in soccer. Giving a second yellow is like saying, "Your foul was only intermediate but since you committed another foul earlier on, I'm kicking you out of the game but not with a direct red card in order for this to seem more plausible".
Are you kidding?
This wasn't the only time a red card penalty has ruined a team's hopes in this World Cup.
June 17, South Africa vs. Uruguay. Uruguay is leading 1:0 in the second half and South Africa is pressing. They have all the momentum because for them it's win or go home.
Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez made a daring run on goal, and was "tripped up" by South African keeper Itumeleng Khune. Khune was given a red card, Uruguay was given a penalty kick and the rest is history.
Let's step back and understand this for a second.
The referee, with one simple action essentially kicked South Africa out of their own tournament. Giving that red card meant that a) South Africa lost their starting keeper, b) they were now a man short for the rest of the match, c) a 1:0 match became a 2:0 match in the 77th minute, and d) even if they somehow came back and won, Khune would miss the next match.
All on a bogus call for a player that flops more than a fish on dry land.
One call ruined the World Cup for South Africa, and the same thing happened last night.
The entire game was tight with each team having very close attempts on goal, and it will forever be remembered for all the yellow cards that were given.
A referee should think twice before he makes a decision that will ultimately ruin a team's hopes in the World Cup. Much worse fouls were committed in last night's match than the one by Heitinga, and the referee should be blamed for the Netherlands' loss.
Spain might have won, but it was the Netherlands fans who lost, having to watch their squad penalized on every move they made.
What is upsetting is how this game will be our last memory of South Africa 2010, just like the foul taste we have from Zidane's actions four years ago. It's not fair, and after the stellar play of the Netherlands and Spain throughout the tournament, it's not right.
Hopefully in four years time the referee staff will realize that sometimes the best call is the one that is not made.
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