Yesterday at the 70’th minute I stopped watching. Croatia was robbed.
England, 1966. The Hand Of God, 1986. Spain vs South Korea, 2002. The FIFA World Cup Finals keep producing controversies. Qatar 2022 is still 8 years away but it is already in the running for the most controversial World Cup yet. And Brazil is no stranger to football controversies – have another look at Rivaldo’s performance back in 2002, rivalling that of Fred’s in yesterday’s match against Croatia. Sadly, the first match of 2014 World Cup added yet another smeared page to the history of football. The awkward decision by the referee to award Brazil a penalty against Croatia is a fitting opening to a World Cup already mired in corruption, failed constructions and violent protests.
FIFA insists on living in the past. After years of dragging its feet it finally introduced Goal Line Technology, unable to resist the storm of criticism following the missed England goal against Germany 4 years ago in South Africa. But what about instant replays being allowed as a refereeing asset? Basketball, tennis, ice hockey, rugby – the list of sports that recognize the need for supporting technology, its importance in reducing controversy, is growing.
I accept that the referee can not be everywhere all the time. Yesterday’s decision may have been an innocent mistake. But with so much at stake, how can one not be suspicious that Brazil failing to win the opening match was just not an option, at any cost? Undoubtedly, poor record by the home team would fuel the justified protests against spilling resources on fancy one-time events instead on necessities like sewage or basic education. Until football referees in crucial matches are allowed access to modern-day technology, doubts will remain about the real motives behind faulty decisions. And a small European country will feel it has been robbed of what might have been an excellent start to its World Cup Final.