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(June 22, 2002)

Really quite poor

Well, after all my paeans to the spirit of football it was rubbish today, frankly.

First, Korea v Spain, a game with no proper goals and few chances, Korea winning the penalty shootout 5-3. Spain had 2 goals ruled out, one on questionable grounds and one on no apparent grounds at all. Spain went off looking rather cross (and we're not just talking pursed lips and a frown here), but the goals themselves only went in because in both cases the Koreans stopped playing when they heard the whistle.

Meanwhile the Italians aren't best pleased about Korea putting them out either. The scorer of the winning Korean goal, Ahn Jung Hwan, plays for Perugia in Italy, or used to until the Chairman of Perugia sacked him for "showing disrespect to Italian football".

The rest of Italy has been complaining because they had some unfair decisions go against them, and Italian sports paper the Gazzetta dello Sport has alleged corruption of the referee by the Korean football association. "The referee was a disgrace, absolutely scandalous," said Franco Frattini, Italy's minister for public offences, possibly stepping slightly outside his ministerial remit.

According to Bill Davis' World Cup Blog (which is excellent by the way), there is a theory doing the rounds that the reason why Totti grabbed his face when he hadn't been touched (for which he received a second booking for simulation, an automatic sending off) is that someone in the crowd had hit him with a laser beam. Intriguingly, the link to the video clip which claims to prove it seems to be down. Try for yourself, and let me know if you get through.

Italy have been the victims of some dodgy decisions, but I don't blame the referees, linesmen or laser snipers, as they are clearly mere pawns in a cosmic web of karma. Play like that for fifty years and the very fabric of space-time itself will line up against you.

In the second game of the day, Turkey beat Senegal by a golden goal (by the time it went in, we'd had nearly four hours without a goal, not counting the early penalty shootout). A much better game, which Turkey deserved to win. Senegal had their moments, but their earlier exuberance only showed itself in patches. An excellent tournament for them, though, including victories over France and Sweden. They said they were playing for the whole of Africa, and the whole of Africa can be proud.

No African champion this year then, but if Turkey did go on to win it would be the first time a World Cup had been won by a team who weren't quite sure which continent they were from, so maybe the peoples of Mexico and Jordan could be proud as well.

My metronomic guessing accuracy continues, with another exactly random score of 2 out of 4. Predictions for the semis: Brazil to beat Turkey and Germany to beat South Korea. The only safe prediction is that I sure will miss it when it goes.

posted by Jon 14:32
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