Monday, September 16, 2013

A foul at the soccer game

Last Saturday I watched the Earthquakes play Vancouver. The final result was 0:0. The score could have been different if a foul in the penalty area had been seen and whistled as a foul with a red card to the goalie David Ousted. With a penalty kick the score would have been 1:0 for the Earthquakes. It seems the Earthquakes only tied and thus lost 2 crucial points because the referee and the linesmen either chose not to see or did not want to see a foul that was too dangerous to overlook.

This foul was committed by the Vancouver goalie against Chris Wondolowski. The goalie lunged for the ball as Wondo was about to head it into the goal. But in the process of jumping and lunging Mr. Ousted deliberately swung his elbow hitting Chris Wondolowski squarely in the neck so that Wondo's head visibly snapped back as in a whiplash that might happen when a car gets rear-ended. The hit on Wondolowski was not noticed by any referee, no whistle was blown and no penalty kick was awarded.

Let me put it differently, the goalie went for Wondo in a purposeful move to hurt, and if it was not purposeful, it was clumsy and a potentially career-ending blow to one of the Earthquakes favorite players. In soccer there is no excuse for clumsiness. The particular elbow move by Mr. Ousted should never be seen. It should not ever be repeated, and if this type of attack by a goalie becomes common place, it is going to make the "beautiful game" into an ugly one where referees apparently don't see dangerous play. I am getting the impression that referees sanction a type of foul that can be practiced in a marshal-arts class. Since there are often fouls that don't get whistled, this has become the most egregious foul I have see performed by a goalie. That's why I am writing about it.

Wondolowski was the captain of that game. He should have been able to talk to the referee. However, since he had received a yellow card during the previous game, he was less willing to speak his mind for fear that he would get another yellow card that would cause a next game suspension.

There are so may dangerous, injurious fouls in many of the games that I sometimes don't recognize the game that I call my favorite spectator sport. If the refereeing is not soon improved I predict that eventually criminal charges will be filed against the league. The occurrence of concussions has increased in soccer, and the impact of these head-injuries can mean similar damage as was litigated recently by former football players against the NFL. The suit was settled in a lawsuit recently where hundreds of millions of dollars will be paid to those players who received traumatic brain injuries.

I love soccer, but I hate to see referees who choose not to see when injuries are inflicted on purpose. If they don't get trained better soon, we will see more of those injuries, and there will be more good men put into hospital beds.

The reason why the Earthquakes could not continue winning the way they did last year was because they had half of their team out at the beginning of the season because these players had surgery during the off-season and were not ready the come back in time to play the first three or four games.

It is inexcusable to see a lopsided dishing out of yellow cards as happened during the recent Seattle Sounders vs. Real Salt Lake game. Seattle got one yellow card, Salt Lake got as many as five even though the game had similar numbers of fouls if the referee had applied his judgment equally. Was the referee biased? I think so. I say that even though these two teams are not the teams I prefer. I like the Earthquakes, and maybe I am biased. But I am not biased enough to overlook dangerous play that will proliferate if the type of refereeing continues in the current fashion.


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