27 December, 2010

Review of the "Greatest (Sporting) Show on Earth": Dramatic Moments of FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010:

If adhering to symmetry, this would be a Top 10 Moments of FIFA World Cup 2010, but to keep it interesting: I'm going to make it the:
Top 3 (Dramatic) Moments of World Cup 2010:
3rd. French farce: in the most infamous World Cup meltdown since Roy Keane's Ireland/Saipan debacle of 2002; the 2010 French World Cup squad imploded and were knocked out in the Group stage. "Les Bleus" finished bottom of their Group, scoring one goal and earned just one point from three games. In a throwback to the Roy Keane fiasco of World Cup 2002 - some French players went on strike, with the French Government holding an official investigation into this "Disgrace to the French nation on a global stage" - according to French Minister for Sport, Culture & Tourism: Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin. To add insult to injury - the French squad were forced to fly home from the World Cup in economy class, which is of course unheard of for a World Cup team.

Contrary to popular opinion: French fighting/farce (pictured below) at World Cup 2010 had NOTHING to do with "karma" for Thierry Henry's handball (also pictured)

There are those who will say that France "got what they deserved" and that what happened to France at World Cup 2010 was "karma" for Thierry Henry's infamous handball for France against Ireland in the World Cup play-off in Paris. This of course is nonsense; Thierry Henry's handball was exactly what any Irish player would have done in a similar situation. Yes, France let themselves down at the 2010 World Cup, but it was nothing to do with "karma" and it was nothing to do with Thierry Henry's handball against Ireland (pictured right). Famous Irish commentator Jimmy Magee (a veteran of 12 FIFA World Cups) summed the situation up best by stating: "If I had a wish for football - it'd be that we Irish would stop talking about Thierry Henry's handball. Otherwise we'll be in the same boat as the English; bleating on about a dam handball by Maradona a quarter of a century ago in Mexico City. So, I got no satisfaction from France's dismal performance at the 2010 World Cup, no satisfaction at all"- here, here Jimmy; here, here.

Frank Lampard's 'goal' versus Germany (pictured left): is it time for football to follow other sports and bring technology into the decision-making process?

Frank Lampard's "goal": England v Germany: This incredible replay of the 1966 World Cup Final: England v Germany and yet another "goal that never was" which of course re-ignited the "Technology in Football" debate. This second-round tie was poised on a knife edge; some six minutes before half-time: England were trailing 2-1 when Frank Lampard hit a 25 yard shot which struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced down fully half-a-metre BEHIND the goal-line. England were incensed, as this time - unlike 1966 - no goal was awarded. Germany went on to win the game 4-1 and to say that England would have won if Lampard's goal had been awarded would be unfair. However, goals do change games and who knows what psychological impact it would have had on a young German side to have been pegged back from 2-0 up to be level at 2-2 and what sort of a boost would it have given England to go in level at the half-time break? The answer we will never know, but there is certainly more than an argument for the introduction of technology in top level football - where there is so much at stake. I don't think it would slow down the game much and it would certainly add to the integrity of top level competitions, certainly in situations where opinions are not required (e.g. was the ball over the goal-line or not?) While there are of course arguments against technology in football, it is something which certainly needs to be looked at.

Suarez' handball: morally wrong?

Luis Suarez handball:
Uruguay v Ghana: World Cup Quarter-Final:
With seconds left of extra-time and Uruguay drawing 1-1 with Ghana, the West Africans launched one last attack into the Charrúas' penalty area. The ball was headed towards goal and with the goalkeeper beaten and a goal seeming certain; Uruguay striker Suarez batted the ball off the goal-line with his hands. In the ensuing meleé, Suarez was red-carded. There was a delay of some five minutes before Ghana's Gyan took the penalty which was the last kick of the game. With the eyes of the world watching him (and a place in the World Cup semi-final at stake): Gyan skied his shot over the crossbar. Suarez was seen celebrating the penalty miss (pictured right) - was this bad sportsmanship? Or was it a great competitior delighted his nation was still in the "Greatest Competition of All"? Uruguay of course went on to win the penalty shoot-out and the moral debate went on. There are those who said that Suarez was morally wrong to handle the ball in such a situation though journalist James Anderson summed up my feelings in the situation when he stated: "I would not want to be on a team with a guy who would not handle the ball in that situation to keep his team in the competition" - well said James Anderson, well said.

Suarez' dramatic handball: Hero or villain? You decide:

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