The FIFA Women’s Soccer World Cup is in its full swing and the tournament has its scandalous “moments”. Australia played Equatorial Guinea and the game produced one of the most scandalous referee decisions in soccer history. See the video:
Like the commentator, I don’t know what to say. While it can happen that a referee can’t see a situation that occurs within a split of a second, this one is impossible not to see. What in the world were the officials thinking? After the game, FIFA was talking about an “episode” about a handball. And the referee is very sorry about it. Well, there is not much more to do at this point. What happens with the referee in the up coming games has to be seen. The end result of this game and the result of the Brazil – Norway game make further steps and speculations un-necessary, thank God. The Matilda’s won anyway and Brazil’s brush-up of Norway put the goal differential in Australia’s favor. This bizarre situation has no influence on the further outcome of the group play.
Brazil’s win over Norway had its own discussion about the first of three Brazil goals. Marta, Brazil’s superstar, clearly fouled the Norwegian defender before taking off to score the first goal. While not as obvious as the handball situation of the Australian game, it was a clear foul and the game should have been interrupted and continued with a Norwegian free kick.
The tournament produced some real good soccer to this point. It can be expected that the games get even better and more dramatic during the last group games and the knock-out stages. The same can’t be said about the referee’s. The referee’s in women soccer have the same problem as their colleagues in men soccer. The selection process is the same and can’t keep up with the development of the game. FIFA has this strange quota regulation by that referee’s from weaker soccer countries have to get the same number of games as those that come from the better soccer countries. While one can see the goodwill in this process, it hurts the game. It is almost ridiculous to make everyone believe that a referee from Mali or Hungary has the same exposure to the game as a referee from the U.S. or Germany. This is an issue FIFA needs to address in order to avoid embarrassing “episodes” as seen today.
In order to further improve referee quality, FIFA needs to find a way to make the ref business available for ex-players. It is a joke that a long time world class soccer player has no chance to have a career as a referee. An experienced soccer player can judge certain situations just by experience. The situation around Marta and Brazil’s first goal against Norway is an example for such. It is clearly an advantage to know the players mind in many situations. Since FIFA currently has many issues to fight, it cannot be expected that any change will occur soon, so we will have to live with some controversy on the field as well as off the field.