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A Biased Referee Deserves a Red Card

Posted June. 26, 2006 07:49,   


The poet is dead. Oh, sorry to the real poets. Let me put it again. “The poet referee” is dead. World Cup football died with him as well. Why didn’t he just kick the ball into our net to make things simple? Dead football of the poet referee, an Argentinean named Horacio Elizondo. His judgment was anything but a poem. It was rather an “insult to poetry.” He was too biased to be a teacher in a school.

Basketball and American football are sports developed as a reaction against offside rules. Americans prefer offensive, hence more points. Understandably, there are no offside rules in basketball. It is even all right to stay under the rim up to three seconds. American football, similarly, applies no offside rules except at the start of a play.

According to basketball rules, the goal struck by the Swiss forward Alexander Frei in the 77th minute was an obvious goal, but not in soccer. It’s nothing more than an ungentlemanly conduct, namely sneaking about in front of the goal and tipping the ball in. Some might stubbornly assert that it wasn’t an offside since the ball was reflected by a Korean player, Lee Ho. However, even in this case, Frei had to be at least on the same line with the last Korean defender. If he sprinted out from that position and controlled the ball, the referee’s decision might have been indisputable. Moreover, Lee wasn’t back passing. The ball just bounced off him while he was making a passive movement to cut the ball from its path to another Swiss player.

Besides the offside situation, how could the referee explain Cho Jae-jin’s shot in the 12th minute which was blocked by Philippe Senderos’ hand? Is it all right because it seemed unintentional? What about Lee Chun-soo’s corner kick in the 42nd minute which was touched by Patrick Mueller’s hand? Did the ref overlook it because it was a “passive” conduct? Why was the principle of passiveness applied only to the Swiss players? In short, it’s a double standard.

The linesman can’t avoid the same blame as well. At first, he hoisted the flag full of convincement, and then dropped his arm embarrassedly. An obvious “simulation” foul which deserves a red card. Trusting the flag’s authority, Korean defenders suddenly stopped their movement.

Of course there’s nothing left to say if you might argue that the final decision is the chief referee’s. However, Frei took advantage of that flag which deceived the Korean players. In other words, the linesman helped Frei score his goal with a fake call.

Originally in Britain, football was an annual festival that took place in villages. The villagers were divided into two teams and continued kicking the ball until the match was finished, even if it took a whole day or more. Winning or losing was little of importance. Nothing else mattered as long as they developed a sense of solidarity while tugging and checking each other.

The festival was over as soon as one side gained a single score. If one side scored within 10 or 20 minutes, the “annual festival” finished at the very moment. After all, rules were devised to extend the length of the game. Ungentlemanly conducts were forbidden first. For example, players couldn’t wait for the ball at the opponent’s goalmouth or sneak through the spectators to approach there. This is how the word “offside” derived from, literally meaning that a player is “off (from its) side,” waiting alone for the ball in front of the opposite side’s goal.

Frei stepped into a forbidden zone in advance and made an obvious and active movement to receive a pass and strike it from there. He didn’t even pretend to hesitate for a moment to show his intention that he won’t involve in the play. It was illegal, and the criminal’s red hands were overlooked by a policeman right beside him with his eyes wide open.

For the entire 90 minutes, the referee’s whistle was biased in favor of the Swiss. The piercing sound of the whistle incessantly interrupted the Koreans’ normal play. When the advantage rule had to be applied, the referee was so “kind” to blow the whistle. Switzerland got the very opposite. Fouls blown by the referee were 20 to 8. Korea fought against 12 players.

The game was a fraud. If this continues to be the case, Switzerland, the home country of FIFA chairman Sepp Blatter, should skip the first round in the next World Cup.

At the break of the red dawn, we yelled together “Dae Han Min Guk,” the name of our country that rarely served our needs or pleasure. In the daybreak, our dream of the second round was shattered and our red souls were scorched black. We are left with little to entertain ourselves. How can we stand the pain surfacing from our broken hearts?

Hwa-Sung Kim mars@donga.com