The case for whining

frings_handball_2002

The U.S. team does not whine enough. When a ref makes a horrendous call that will likely end our chances of getting out of the first round of an international tournament (or getting to the semis of the World Cup) we simply take it. Sure there were some small protests after the most recent catastrophic decision against Italy – but there was nothing all that substantial. Just imagine if the call had happened the other way around. The Italians would have been incensed. Italian media would have ripped the official a part, every other call that game would have been argued vehemently and the Italian coach would have whined to the press after the game. All of this creates a deterrent against rash and harsh officiating. An official knows that their life will be a living hell if they make a dramatic call against the Italians – or most other teams. As bizarre as it sounds, complaining more is about maturing as a soccer nation.

This is not the case with the U.S. You could mark this up to good sportsmanship and certain American stoicism, but we need to angry. Not necessarily the players on the field, but the US soccer federation and the coaching staff. The past three major international tournaments have all seen the U.S. dumped on very very dubious calls. 2002 the non-call on the Frings handball. 2006 two players sent off for innocuous challenges against diving Italians – followed by the worst penalty call of the tournament. And now game one of the confederations cup an unnecessary and overly harsh red card against Ricardo Clark.

Lets assess this call from the Chilean referee. The first thing that should be pointed out is that what put clark in the position to make the lunge was an obstruction (a foul not called) from an Italian player that delayed his arrival to the ball. He clearly lunged and got Gattusso high. It was a bad foul and his foot should not have been up there. But it was definitely not malicious – much more of a cynical trip than anything and possibly deserving a yellow. But the ref showed ref. By the letter of the law he was justified. Clark went in high and recklessly. But if you accept that WHY WAS THE ITALIAN DEFENDER NOT SENT OFF FOR THE FOUL ON ALTIDORE. He was the last defender. If you are going to adopt a strict interpretation for Clark then it has to apply both ways.

The U.S. clearly has a problem in international soccer. We not only don’t get calls, but being the U.S. we have officials that are both inclined to not like us, as well as not respect us. And what is worse they know that there will be little outrage from the U.S. team and international soccer if we get hosed. But just as a baseball manager needs to get thrown out of a game arguing a call just to make the point that you can’t walk all over us, so does the U.S. soccer federation. Egypt protested the way Webb made the penalty call against Brazil even though it was the right call. Bradley simply murmurs it was a little harsh.

There is a clear pattern developing and it is up to the US soccer federation – Sunil Gulati, Bob Bradley, and others to point this out that Americans are targeted. Put that thought in officials minds that they will be criticized vehemently for anti-Americanism after the game. And our players need to do more on the field to get in the officials faces. It is not good enough any more to simply take it.

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One Response

  1. […] USSF needs to start raising its voice. I wrote after the Italy game in the confederations cup that we need to whine more. To put it bluntly, every game we play – not just in Concacaf – sees big calls go […]

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