Is it just me or has this soccer world cup shown up an enormous disparity between the quality of the football and the quality of the refereeing? Games that are much more complex to referee such as Rugby Union are brilliantly refereed by comparison.
Look. It is a fast game. It is impossible for the ref to be ball-side of the action all the time. Suggestions for a Soccer 2.0:-
- Two refs - one in each half. That way, a lot more difficult to "blind side" the officials.
- Video playback ala Rugby Union when the refs are in doubt. It is ridiculous to have all this technology available and not use any of it. Tight offside decisions should be deferred until the ball goes dead and then adjudicated via video.
- Ex post-facto yellow and red cards where video evidence shows diving, head butting etc. etc. If players know that they will suffer for it if it is caught on video, they will change their behaviour. (No point in fining these guys - must use red/yellow cards that cause them to miss games. If you earn 100k a week as a basic wage, financial fines don't amount to much of a disincentive.).
- Ban players for long periods for persistent cheating. Nothing annoys me more than the "its fine to cheat as long as the ref does not see it" ethos of Soccer. Compare golf for example.
Finally, back to Rugby Union for a moment. In soccer, players regularly leave the field of play after a tackle or a bad fall. Michael Owen managed to badly mess up his knee without another player going anywhere near him!
I cannot help but contrast this with the likes of Peter Stringer. Here is a whippet of a guy, five seven in height. Not only does he regularly get positively pummelled in tackles but it is not unusual for a few 16 stone front row players to then sit on top of him.
He invariably just gets up and gets on with the game.
The contrast with soccer is striking. At least some of this must be psychological. Stringer goes into a game knowing he will be pummelled. I think that has a lot to do with it.