Posts Tagged ‘red card’

World Cup History: Bora Bora Bora … What Could Have Been?

June 6, 2010

My favorite World Cup moment just so happens to be my most disappointing moment as well. I’m purposely not doing any research or corroboration of this article to see just how accurate my recollection is after 16 years.

Let me set the stage:

  • Date: July 4, 1994.
  • Place: Sold out Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA.
  • Weather: Sunny, high 80s at game time.
  • Game: U.S. vs. Brazil; 2nd round of the 1994 World Cup.
  • Seats: My group was sitting right behind the north goal about halfway up.

All I could think to myself that day was what if the U.S. actually beat Brazil. Sure it was a tall order but the feeling was that given the date and conditions, it could happen.

Then things got interesting. Near the end of the first half, Brazil’s Leonardo intentionally elbowed Tab Ramos in the head, earning an immediate red card. The halftime score was still 0-0! Sure the U.S. had been completely outplayed but now being a man up, an upset definitely seemed possible. I could not believe my good fortune. I was going to be witness to one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history. Incredible!

What happened next (or shall I say what did not happen next) resulted in my greatest World Cup disappointment.

Instead of taking advantage of this good fortune, Bora Mulitinovic, the U.S. head coach, was content to continue playing a defense-oriented game and hope for either a counter-attack or for the game to go to penalty kicks. Eventually, this strategy failed when Bebeto scored with about 15 minutes to go in the game (at our end of the field). By this time, the U.S. was incapable of attacking and the game ended in a disappointing 1-0 loss.

It did not help that Ramos, arguably America’s best player, broke his jaw from Leonardo’s elbow and was not able to play. Had he, the U.S. may have been able to control the game more than it did. Unfortunately, and perhaps because it was daytime, Bora did not see that all the planets were perfectly aligned as well. Had he, and had he changed his strategy and just ‘Gone For Broke’, who knows what would have happened.

All I can say is, “Bora, Bora, Bora!?”

Don’t Retaliate

April 28, 2010

A funny incident happened to my daughter this year during her high school season that illustrates retaliation perfectly. My daughter entered a game early in the second half and before her teammate had a chance to restart the game with a throw-in, my daughter:

  • Received a yellow card,
  • Was almost shown a red card, and
  • Found herself back on the bench.

The incident unfolded as follows:

  1. As she entered the game and positioned herself for the throw-in, an opponent pinched her on her hip.
  2. Not one to take kindly to this sort of action, my daughter reciprocated with an elbow to the pincher’s mid-section.
  3. Seeing only the elbow, the referee showed my daughter a yellow card and pointed to the bench (in our high school league, all yellow card recipients require to be substituted).
  4. As she neared the bench, her coach asked her why she did what she did. She answered by showing him the pinch mark and made sure that everyone in the stands knew that she had been pinched.
  5. Upon seeing the mark, the coach had her return to the field to show the referee the evidence.
  6. As she neared him, the referee asked, “If she would like a red card as well?”
  7. Without responding, my daughter returned to the bench to accept her punishment. Fortunately, she went back in after the next dead ball. There were no further retributions or flare-ups.

I feel the referee was perfectly justified in giving my daughter the yellow card because a referee can only call and punish actions or infractions that he/she sees. Even though he probably guessed something had happened to my daughter to cause her to react like she did, he should not have shown the other girl a yellow card since he did not see the pinch occur. All he could do was keep a closer eye on the pincher and be quick to call a foul if he witnessed anything.

I gave my daughter the following advice should she be involved in another similar incident in the future:

  • Raise your voice to get the referee’s attention. Something like, “Ouch! You can’t pinch me like that!” would have done the trick.
  • Display the evidence to the player and make sure the referee sees it as well. If possible, go to the referee and show him/her the evidence up close.
  • Be polite when showing the referee any evidence. If he/she does not want to see it, that’s fine. The purpose, which was to let the referee know that a particular player caused you pain, was achieved.
  • Don’t retaliate. Opponents, especially older ones, play mind games. Their intention is to get the opponent off his/her game. This type of gamesmanship is part of soccer as well as most other sports. It is something that players need to understand and expect.

Retaliation is never the answer. While it is not fair, the referee will always see the retaliator’s reaction and not the perpetrator’s action. React and you will almost certainly be carded and possibly end up back on the bench without ever playing a minute of a game.

Cheating Referees

March 23, 2010

I doubt the following dialogue has ever happened. But if you hear the comments of many young players at the end of games which they have lost, they would tell you that it was possible. After all, it was the cheating referees who contributed to or resulted in the loss.

The dialogue protagonists:

  • Referee (Ref).
  • Assistant Referee 1 (AR1).
  • Assistant Referee 2 (AR2).

The referee meets the two ARs behind the goal.

Ref: Welcome gentlemen. I’m looking forward to refereeing with you guys again.

AR1: Same here. Which team is it going to be this time?

Ref: Well, see that player over there (referee points to #9 on the green team). He looked at me funny the last time I refereed his game.

AR2: I know his coach. I don’t like the coach’s daughter.

AR1: That’s Lisa’s Dad? Yeah, I don’t like her either. She won’t go out with me. She said I lacked character.

Ref: What does she know? Well then, it sounds like we have our team. You guys know the procedure.

AR2: Yes, I will ignore all offside calls for the other team. However, anything close to an offside against the green team, I will raise my flag.

AR1: Same here. I will also make favorable throw-in, corner, and goal kick calls every chance I get for the other team.

Ref: Perfect! Don’t worry about helping me with the fouls. As usual, I will make every possible call against the green that I can. Then if I hear one word from either a player or coach, you can bet I will pull out my yellow card. If I get a chance, I’ll see if I can pull out a few red cards as well.

AR1 and AR2 (in unison): Sounds like a plan.

Ref: Let’s go out and have a good game, fellows!

Sure referees make bad calls. And some referees make more bad calls than others. And as a player and coach, this can be really frustrating. When I was young, I was terrible to referees when a call did not go my way. I’m sure many of them wanted to pull a Homer Simpson and wring my neck. But mistakes are part of the game and part of being human.

Do referees cheat? This would imply that referees deliberately make bad calls. It would also imply that the above dialogue was indeed plausible. The answer is highly unlikely. As a coach, it is important to let your players know that their accusations and beliefs are incorrect, no matter how frustrated or upset you may be. After all, it is just a game.

Silver Lining to Aaron Ramsey’s Broken Leg

February 28, 2010

There was an ugly injury in the EPL this Saturday (February 27, 2010). A hard tackle by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross resulted in a gruesome leg injury for Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey. Aaron, a very promising young midfielder, is certainly done for the season and probably the calendar year. Let’s hope he is able to recover and resume his career at the same high level.

A silver lining you ask?

  • Though the tackle was hard, there was no way Ryan wanted to injure Aaron like he did. He was truly remorseful on the field and after the game. It was a nice gesture that he went to Aaron’s side after being shown the red card. It was also nice to see Ryan accept his red card punishment without argument. Too many players will argue a dismissal even after blatantly and intentionally fouling another player.
  • Referee, Peter Walton, handled the situation very well. He acted swiftly in issuing the red card. It was also great that he read the situation correctly and allowed Ryan to apologize to Aaron on the field.
  • The rest of the players, especially the Arsenal players, could have easily lost their cool. They did not. I think they understood that this was not Ryan’s intention.

No one ever wants to see that type of injury. But at least good sportsmanship and cool heads prevailed. Here’s to a speedy and full recovery Aaron.