Tag Archives: technology


6 Apr

While walking out of Checkers Hyper the other day, I spotted their bookshelf. Excellent attention to detail once again:


Septic Blatter, Stupid Refs and the Football Everyone Else Wants to Watch

11 Mar
van persie

In Robin's dreams on Tuesday night

My last two posts were written from the couch while I was watching Arsenal trying to re-enact the Battle of Blood River against Barcelona.¬† Having done ever so well, and with their noses still in front with only a half-hour to go, Robin Van Persie took a shot on goal and was sent off for it. This decision — given the high stakes game — may rank as the worst refereeing mistake in all of football.

Of course, something like Maradonna’s ‘Hand of Dog’ incident that won the World Cup was on a far bigger stage, but it was understandable that the ref could have missed the cheat. This one was just so impossible to explain.

Van Persie had got a silly yellow card — even in that case a little harshly — in the first half, but was now through on goal about to take a shot, when the official flagged for offside, and the ref (somewhere behind him) blew his whistle. One second afterwards, van Persie took the shot that he had started taking. Such a deeply offensive action was this that he got a second caution and was sent off. Being the lone striker in front of a midfield barely hanging on, there was no way he could be replaced. Everyone including the ref knew that such a decision would effectively end the team’s season in that moment.

What is impossible to understand is how that could ever be an offence. ‘Kicking the ball away’ is cardable, because it is petulant, wastes time and may even prevent the opposition from using an advantage. But surely one needs to actually kick the ball away in a petulant fashion? In other words, there must be actual evidence of intent. In one second, a player was expected to hear the refs whistle among a crowd of 100,000 screaming fans (many of whom may be blowing whistles), change his plan to avoid shooting on goal, and turn around. Instead, he completed the fluid action in which he was already involved and took a shot on goal. Bear in mind that not taking a scoring chance because you think you hear the refs whistle could also cost you the game. And even if van Persie had heard the whistle and yet still continued with the shot he was busy making, so what? There are fifty balls in the stadium. Let that one go. It wasn’t defiant and it didn’t waste time.

FIFA president Septic Bladder and his yes men seem to be the only one’s who find it a beautiful part of the beautiful game that refs can utterly destroy an entire season of work (and for some a lifelong dream) by having a split second of dire stupidity. They still refuse the help of TV referrals or second opinions of any kind that use technology. There seem to be only a small handful of people in the world who think this, and yet they all somehow ended up on the FIFA board. There are enough great moments in football without having to manufacture controversies at the hands of referees.

If Sepp wants controversy for its own sake, I suggest that he applies it to his salary first: Accounting for normal human error, let his salary fluctuate between 75-105% of its contract value, but every now and then it must also be subject to random acts of absurdity. Perhaps in February his salary should get ‘sent off’ until next season. Perhaps some months he should have to pay FIFA because someone doesn’t like his suspenders that day. And of course the randomness won’t offer the chance of a lottery-sized increase on his already (no doubt) bloated salary, because in the parallel world of officiating mistakes, no ref ever sent on a 12th player.

So, Sepp, we get it. You like soap operas where there is a super-villain whose many injustices get the ‘water-cooler talk’ going at the office the next day. So go and write a soap opera. Just keep it out of football.

The Ungenius World Cup

20 Jul

The FIFA TM (PBUH) World Cup was a wonderful event, full of celebration and excitement and all of that good stuff, but what place does such an event have on a site dedicated to whingeing and celebration of failure? So let’s pay tribute to Africa’s World Cup by chronicling its most noteworthy failures.

#5 The Vuvuzela
VuvuzelaIt’s easy to hate the vuvuzela. It’s loud and monotonous, none of which is all that endearing. It reminds me too much of Lloyd Christmas’ most annoying sound in the world. Yet somehow, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I don’t hate it all that much. It did add a unique flavour to Cup, and at least none of the games were silent and funereal. But for flattening out the highs and lows of crowd participation and for making it impossible for any other kind of noise (singing for instance), the Vuvuzela enters the Ungenius rankings at #5.

#4 Afropessimists
afropessimismThe idea of holding a tournament in Africa led to all sorts of predictions about how much of a shambles it was going to be. If the prophecies had all come to pass, our politicians would have run off with all the money, the stadia would all have fallen down, and the natives would have cannibalised all the tourists in their over-priced B&Bs. Countless South Africans just knew that nothing would be finished on time and that the games were going to be disasterously mismanaged. Even the Guardian UK kept running reports about how foreign visitors were staying away because of the exorbitant costs and danger to visitors. We were back to lions roaming the streets. In reality, it went off virtually without a hitch, and it was as safe as any Cup has been. Every one of the pessimists were proved wrong. I haven’t heard any retractions yet. No apologies. Still waiting.

#3 Picture delay on the public broadcaster
tension graphIf you were subjected to the local broadcasting of the tournament, you would have to have suffered a commentator who said ‘from x’s point of view’ and ‘as far as the x is concerned’ at least 50 times a match. But that was not the biggest worry. The most Ungenius mistake made by the SABC was the delay of the visuals at least a second behind the commentary. This had the effect of making the commentators seem especially sharp during regular play, quoting the name of the player as he received the pass. Unfortunately when the commentator got excited about the possibility of a goal, the viewer heard about it before it happened. By the time the striker hit the ball, you could already hear in the commentator’s voice whether or not it was going to be successful. It was a little bit like having someone notifying you what is just about to happen in the movie you’re watching. It’s unbelievably annoying not to be able to experience the growth and release of tension at the proper times. I tried switching to the radio commentary once, but the radio commentators were describing the action replays before we got to see the goal being knocked in.

#2 FIFA’s baffling technophobia

Goal disallowed

It only crossed the line by a yard. Too close to call.

For some reason, FIFA imagines that we all secretly appreciate it when our favoured teams suffer a serious injustice. Disallowed goals, bad offside calls, red cards for nothing… we all love it when our teams crash out because of a referee error, because football is all the richer for the beautiful analogueness of it. Well bugger it, FIFA, the rest of us like technology. We enjoy watching the replays. We like computer-assisted visuals that reveal whether someone was offside or not. I’m dern sure Frank Lampard would have been happy to have a one-minute breather while the refs consulted the TV on his goal against the Germans. The difference between 2-1 and 2-2 at half time is huge. The difference between telling your grandkids that you banged in a cracker at a World Cup and that you went to a couple of tournaments but got nothing… that’s pretty big. So thanks FIFA. I’m sure all of the hard-done-bys are really grateful that you’re scared of the computer.

#1 Letting Adidas reinvent the football
Jabulani Beach BallSouth Africa spent a lot of billions organising this World Cup. Players have been training their whole lives for this moment. Oh, but by the way, that ball that you’ve been training with your whole lives? Yes, you won’t be using that one. We’ve let Adidas decide what you’ll be playing with, and they quite liked the way a beach ball behaves in the air, so they’ve gone with something like that. Hope you don’t mind. The goalkeepers? No you guys will probably flap at it a bit, or palm it back straight down the middle. Freekicks? Um, no, it’s quite hard to get used to, so you’ll be hitting it like a rugby conversion for the first 6 or 8 games. It’ll be a rubbish spectacle until sometime in 2012 when you’ve all had a good go at it. Sound alright? Good! On we go then!