From good to bad in just a few seconds

By Walter Broeckx

Every now and then you have such a game where in a few minutes so many things happen in a game that you can write a whole article on it. Paraguay – Spain was such a match.

Before we go to the penalties let’s look at the disallowed goal from Paraguay.

A long ball was kicked and came to Valdez who controlled it and scored. Unfortunately for Paraguay the  linesman raised his flag for offside. Valdez was not offside, he was level with the defenders, but his team mate was in an offside position when the ball was played. This team mate made an attempt to play the ball with his head but did not touch the ball.

In the rule book the instructions say: “interfering with play” means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate”. The other player did not touch the ball so I think he was not interfering with play. Another possible option could be “interfering with an opponent” means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent”. Now here we could argue a bit that by jumping in the air he made movements and maybe this movement could have deceived the Spanish defender.

If you ask me and if I look at the moment he raised his flag I think the linesman thought that Valdez was just offside. This was wrong. But if he raised his flag for offside of the other Paraguayan player then unfortunately there is a grey area in the laws when it comes to this. Interfering is up to the refs interpretation of the rules and when you leave it up to the interpretation of the ref and his assistant you get different outcomes.

If I had been there and I saw that Valdez was on side when the cross was given I would have given the goal. If the other attacker would have touched the ball it would have been offside. So I think Paraguay were a bit unlucky with that decision. But the main  question is : did the linesman think Valdez was offside or not?

Over to the second half and the penalties. I think there is no doubt about the first penalty decision. The ref spotted it and Pique, who should keep his mouth shut a bit, was holding Cardozo with both hands and pulled his arm back. So correct decision. The keeper made a great save and within the laws but some 3 or 4 Spanish defenders had entered the penalty area at the moment that Cardoze kicked the ball. The rules are clear: if “a team-mate of the goalkeeper infringes the Laws of the Game then the referee allows the kick to be taken

• if the ball enters the goal, a goal is awarded

if the ball does not enter the goal, the kick is retaken.

So the penalty should have been retaken as the keeper got the ball. Paraguay again unlucky with this decision.

Seconds later on the other side, there was contact between Villa and Alcaraz (who will play for Wigan next season) and Villa went down. You can give them but you can also say that there was no deliberate foul from the defender. But when you decide to give the penalty you must give a red card, say the instructions, as Alcaraz was the last defender and it was a goal scoring opportunity.

By giving a yellow card the ref made it clear that he was uncertain himself and chose for the easy way out: penalty and just a yellow card.

My initial reaction was give nothing: no foul and no dive either as there was a bit of contact but not a contact which you can say that the attacker really was brought down.  So at the end of the day one could say both teams were lucky with the final decision. Just not sure who was the luckiest?

Then came Alonso with his penalty and he put it in the net but then the ref immediately waved his arms to signal that the kick had to be retaken. The rules say:  “a team-mate of the player taking the kick infringes the Laws of the Game:

• the referee allows the kick to be taken

if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken

If the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and the match is restarted with an indirect free kick to the defending team from the place where the infringement occurred”

The replays showed that several Spanish players again, (do they know the rules????) were entering the penalty area before the kick was taken. And to be sure the “D” beyond the penalty area is a no go zone before the penalty is given. So the ref did what he had to do and had the kick retaken. Paraguay were this time lucky with the fact that the ref had seen it and did what he had to do.

Now the second penalty from Alonso was stopped by the keeper and then Cesc was first to the ball.  He was brought down by the keeper (very clear to see in the replays) but the ref did not give another penalty. It was a clear penalty, no doubt about it. So Paraguay was very lucky.

I think that the ref didn’t have the guts to put the ball on the spot for a third time and send the keeper off. He was helped somewhat by the fact that the ball stayed in play and that the Spanish could have a shot on goal which was blocked so it was all very agitated and close, but even if the ref did or could not see the foul on Cesc, the linesman who was standing just a few meters from the incident should have taken his responsibility and signal it to the ref. He has the right to do this unless the ref before the game has instructed him not to interfere with penalty decisions. This is something that the ref can do before the game and we don’t know what the ref said so we can only speculate on this.

I must say some very eventful minutes in a very close game of football. The ref mixed good decisions with bad decisions a few seconds apart.

Well at least it gives us something to talk about while we wait for the season to begin.


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14 Replies to “From good to bad in just a few seconds”

  1. i thought it was something relevant and by relevant something related to ARSENAL….pointless

  2. yeah, I see more people are against Spain. I am very tired of the behaviour of the two big boys every year, intensified durring elections. Hope Spain gets trashed, used to love them now its very much the opposite

  3. It is true that Cesc could have had a penalty. The goal for Paraguay was very hard to see if it touched his head in my opinion. Otherwise, I think Villa should have had a yellow card for the dive. And the referee would have to be very brave and sure if whistling for a third (fourth) time with Cesc

  4. Walter- I agree with you on most of your article, but I have a different opinion on Paraguay’s disallowed goal. When a player who’s in an offside position attempts to head a ball from a cross, then its not just d defenders that he’s interfered with, but also the goalkeeper. Every goalkeeper positions himself for a potential header. In this case, Spain’s goalkeeper was expecting a header from the team-mate and hence was not ready for the header that eventually came from Valdez. So I would have given it offside.

  5. Yes… at 2-0 up i would have like to have seen what Spain would do as Paraguay would have surely tried to defend their lead. I hope Germany destroy Spain in the semis.

  6. Walter- Also, the penalty given to spain for the foul on David Villa was a right decision as David Villa was ahead of the defender when he was fouled. Villa had a clear shot on goal when he got fouled and d contact which you are talkin about was not small, it was a considerable contact to unbalance a player who was ahead of the defender and in a clear goal scoring opportunity. So even the penalty decision was right in my point of view.

  7. Dark Prince, you are right and …. I am right. As both are valid and possible interpretations of the same rule. It’s all up to the linesman interpretation of the situation.

    This time the linesman chose your interpretation of the rules and maybe another linesman would have taken the other interpretation.

    This is what Blatter meant by having discussions in the pub after the game. 😉 But I wonder if Blatter ever sees an ordinary pub from the inside with his own eyes.

  8. We can have another drink Billy? 😉
    If we could have a scale on penalty’s from 0 to 100 and 100 is a clear penalty without any doubt I would range the Villa penalty at 60. You can give them.
    When I saw it live I had the feeling that Villa was only looking for one thing and that thing was not scoring but falling down in the penalty area. But this is my interpretation of his thoughts on the moment and like I have said before I am not a mind reader but this was how it looked to me when I tried to read the body language.

    And like I said the fact that the ref did not give a red card is just a confirmation for me that he also was in doubt about it. I think not giving a red card after he took the penalty decision will cost him next games in this world cup. If you say A (penalty call) you must say B (red card: last defender/goal scoring opportunity).

    But as a ref I can understand him as he chose the easy way out of things. This does not mean he did the right things. If he considered the contact enough to make Villa fall he had no other options but penalty and red card.

    On that same scale I would range the foul on Cesc as a 100 % one.

    But it ain’t easy being a ref and having no help lines.

  9. Hi Wallter,
    I thought Valdez was coming from an offside position just before the ball was played. This to me is another grey zone, as I’m not sure when a player ‘coming from an offside position’ is played onside again. Hope that makes sense…

  10. Goooner,

    The moment it changes is when the ball is played. At the moment the long ball was played that is the split second the player is on side or off side. I know he was in an offside positions seconds before that but the offisde position itself is not an offence. It only becomes punishable at the moment the ball is played and reaches the player “in an offside position”.

    If my TV station dit not screw it up they showed the moment that the ball was played and then Valdez was level with the last defender.

  11. Good analysis Walter. While I was pleased to see the ref demanded the retakes (a step in the right direction) he has to be consistent and also pull the goalkeeper up for moving from his line.

  12. @Phil
    Somehow the goalkeeper thing has become something that is widely tolerated now. Everybody knows that it is against the rules, but they still keep doing it and refs somehow just stopped caring. We are not innocent, either, as Almunia does it, too. But the one thing that annoys me is the uselessness of Fifa once again. Either they should tell the refs to start taking care of that issue and order a rekick for that kind of behaviour OR they should simply make it official, that goalkeepers are allowed to move of their line during a penalty kick. The way it is now it makes them seem like they are not in control…and to be serious, when was the last time Fifa seemed to be in control?

  13. Walter,

    Totally agree w/ the lack of sturdy vertebrae on this official from GUA. It is ironic and laughable that the organization who writes and interprets the rules are wrong in the span of minutes.
    1. So, Valdez not offside 1-0 Paraguay.
    2. 1st Penalty should have been retaken 2-0 Paraguay?
    3. Villa was a soft penalty but once given Paraguay should be down to 10.
    4. Fabregas should have been awarded a penalty.
    5. Paraguay should be down to 9.
    This is massive how FIFA is so bad at interpreting and executing its own rules. If this were you or I on the job we would be fired… Another reason for Instant Replay. Just get it right!

  14. The encroachment on Paraguay’s penalty was pretty egregious and deserved a “make-up call”. After Villa’s won-penalty (which tilted things further toward Spain), and an even more ridiculous encroachment the second time — almost as if the Spanish players thought you could just run in at the whistle like the goalie can come off his line — I think the non-call for the trip of Cesc was trying to even the ledger.

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