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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