SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Robbery in Birmingham Today

That's Birmingham, England, site of today's Premiership match between Chelsea and host Birmingham. Chelsea is the very well-financed frontrunner in the Premiership (England's top league for the uninitiated), while Birmingham, in the middle of England (again, the Midlands to those in the know) is having a good year and right now is in the top 10.

It's true that for much of the first half Chelsea was on the attack, but there was a moment when Birmingham striker Chucho Benitez got in the midst of a tangle Chelsea defense and scored a goal. Or so it appeared, but the assistant referee called Birmingham off-side. Replays showed that this wasn't the case, and the announcers on ESPN2 said as much. The game ended in a 0-0 tie.

Premiership officials shouldn't permit results like this to happen. Given how few goals are scored in soccer matches, they should adopt an instant replay process where goals are disallowed (or allowed if there is a controversy) to ensure that the referee and the assistant referees get the result right. The assistant referee blew the call, the goal was disallowed, and Birmingham didn't get the points in the standings alloted for a victory.

Birmingham fans should be livid, especially since the game ended in a draw. That goal would have been the difference maker, and it was taken away. That's especially frustrating to see in the elite leagues. Referees are human and make mistakes, too, so why not have a quality-control system to prevent mistakes from determining a game's outcome? That system would make the results above reproach.

Birmingham fans -- you were robbed. Unfortunately, most cities put up traffic lights or stop signs after an accident has taken place. The Premiership should do the same -- so that accidents like this do not recur.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't comment on soccer. You apparently don't get the game, or watch many matches, and you are buying into how Americans think sports ought to be and imposing it on soccer. Stuff like the off-sides call happen all the time in soccer and players and fans deal with it. In Spanish they say, "asi es el futbol:" "that's how football/soccer is."

Your call for reply is fine, but soccer is a game that is free flowing. Stopping for replays or having replays in game and then stopping the match for a restart, if a goal is ruled good, would throw the whole game off. Moreover, this issue is old. FIFA has been talking about this stuff for about 15 years.

Finally, notice how Skysports, the BBC, and the official Birmingham site address the issue:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/eng_prem/8423355.stm

http://www.skysports.com/football/match_report/0,19762,11065_3150465,00.html

http://www.bcfc.com/page/News/NewsDetail/0,,10412~1915362,00.html

There is not talk of being robbed or there being a giant controversy. Sure the goal was disallowed but "asi es el futbol." Actually, Birmingham is praised for holding Chelsea scoreless and picking up a point, and the Birmingham manager was quite satisfied with the result.

I would figure that a "prof" would be more thoughtful about their posts. Please stick the sports your know and leave your trite, petty comments about soccer out of the site.

2:19 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Anonymous:

Thanks for your thoughts, despite your tone at the beginning and the end. I'll listen to what you say and disregard for the most part how you say it.

It may be the case that they say "as it is in football," and I get that. The same way I get that most managers and coaches would agree that if a team did more during a game, a game shouldn't come down to a disputed or questionable call. I get that too.

All that said. . . here's my point: very few goals are scored, and, as a result, when there's a controversy, there should be some sort of review. Here, there was a controversy. I think all soccer fans would agree that it would be a shame for something pivotal in the standings to rest upon a blown call. That's what happened here.

Baseball has its rhythms, as does American football and basketball. All those games resort to replays so as to avoid results that are easily overturned. Given that in those contests many more points (or runs) are scored, you'd think that they'd have a better argument for avoiding instant replay because you'd figure that a team could make up the difference in some other way. In soccer, they cannot -- the stakes are much higher. One goal frequently decides the outcome of a match. As such, there should be a replay.

So, you may know more about soccer, but my comment is more about the integrity of the game and its results, which, the last time I checked in certain countries (not England) was open to question and, in some cases, purchase (Italy). All major leagues should avoid such controversies where possible. That's all that I'm saying.

So, you can have the "that's how football is" line all you want, but you also have to be open to suggestions as to how to improve the game. You, like many others, don't want replays, and that's your opinion. You're entitled to that; I'm entitled to mine.

4:18 PM  

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