Maybe it's because I didn't follow the 2006 World Cup as closely, but this year's event seems to have more bad calls than ever before.
I'm not just talking about the multiple USA goals called back because of bad calls. They are happening all the time, it seems. The latest examples were Sunday.
First, England scored what would have been the game-tying goal when the ball hit the crossbar and then clearly landed behind the goal line before taking a second bounce in front of it. The sideline official for the game was not in position for the call, and so play resumed as if you ball was never in. England lost 4-1. I'm not saying England wins if that ball goes in, they played an atrocious second half, but that could have tilted momentum in their favor for the second half.
Second, Argentina's first goal against Mexico should have never happened. Argentina player Carlos Tevez was blatantly offsides, yet no call was made and he had an easy goal. Mexico never recovered and they lost 3-1.
Both of these wrongs could have been righted in seconds if FIFA used replay for plays on the goal line or for offsides. Don't tell me it will slow the game down and that you like the human element. Getting the call right is all that should matter if we have the technology to do so. This is the World Cup. The biggest tournament in sports. FIFA owes it to the teams and fans worldwide to do everything they can to get the calls right. Not just shrug their shoulders and say "Mistakes are part of the game."
Not all plays should be reviewable. With the way soccer players dive, the game may never end as we review every single foul. But goals and offsides, where it takes practically no time to make the right call, should be reviewed. How hard is it to have a fifth official in a booth who can communicate with the head official? They are already doing it now. Have you notice how all four officials have headsets? Well, they're using those to communicate to each other in case someone missed a call that the other saw. Soccer has embraced technology, they are just being stubborn on this front.
In a recent story, FIFA even said they are going to limit what can be displayed on stadiums' screens. This is because Mexico, and the whole stadium, saw that they got screwed over on that first goal and they weren't happy. If that game were in Azteca, there is no way the refs make it out of the half, let alone the game, alive.
Soccer, and sports in general, need to stop being so defensive of their officials. Fans understand that you're going to make the wrong call from time to time. They are just calling for a way to reduce these bad calls. Hell, even baseball has made some compromises when it comes to replay! It's time FIFA makes some too.
Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band - Blinded by the Light