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Murmurs Over Red Cards Growing Louder

Posted June. 29, 2006 03:21,   


The colors of 2006 German World Cup?

Maybe it’s the yellow-red of the German flag, minus the black (yellow card-red card).

Criticisms that there are “faults with the management of the game,” and referees’ protest that they “did no wrong.”

With 8 games out of 64 matches left, the number of red cards (including accumulated warnings) given out so far is 25 cards. At the 1998 France World Cup, where the 64-match system was first introduced, 21 red cards were given out until the finals. At the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup this number fell to 16 cards, but now it has increased again to set a record. The average of players leaving the field also decreased from 0.32 cases per game in 1998 to 0.25 cases in 2002, and in this World Cup, it rose to 0.45 cases, almost twice as high as the last games.

The reason so many players are being chased off the green is partly due to the Federation Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) new regulations. FIFA forewarned that the regulations of this World Cup would be stricter than before. They professed that pulling opponents’ clothes, which have been mostly tolerated until now would be regulated. This is needless to say for elbow punches and rough tackles.

The Sud Deutsche Zeitung contrasted “FIFA” with the German word “pfiff,” which means “whistle,” and put out an article with the title, “The whistle (pfiff) of a calm ocean.” This suggested that the overissuing of warnings and red cards was the responsibility of FIFA.

Even in this situation, FIFA president Joseph Blatter claims this is the referees’ responsibility. At the round of 16 match between Portugal and the Netherlands, 4 players were sent off, resulting in a game of 9 vs. 9. At this, Blatter didn’t hide his discomfort, saying the referee should get a warning.

FIFA’s new regulations had an impact on the dirty play of the players-

In regard to this, Russian referee Valentin Ivanov answered at an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestia, “There was no fault with the judgment. Portugal is infamous for its dirty play such as hitting from behind, but we didn’t know the Netherlands would be as well.”

The German daily paper Die Welt drew attention by putting out an analysis that warnings and red cards have been increasing for a long time. The total number of exits from the field from the 1978, to 1998 World Cup number 5, 8, 12, 15, 21 cases each, drawing a rising curve line. The decrease to 16 cases in the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup was an extraordinary phenomenon.

Despite Blatter’s fury, the number of player exits since the Portugal-Netherlands match are 2 players for 4 games. This raises the average to 0.5 players per game.

Meanwhile, Franz Beckenbauer, chairperson of the German World Cup Organizing Committee joined in the criticism, saying, “The referees are not able to control the game 100 percent.”

Yoon-Jong Yoo gustav@donga.com