Where Has the Beautiful Game Gone


CONGRATULATIONS to Spain, but let’s be honest about the 2010 World Cup. It was terrible, absolutely awful, the worst World Cup that I can remember! From what I saw and have read, South Africa did a great job hosting the event. The forecasted violence never materialised, the stadia all looked excellent, and the atmosphere was welcoming and fun.

The nation as a whole deserves a huge pat on the back, not least for the way they all got behind Ghana and supported them in their Quarter Final against Uruguay, before they were eliminated at the hand (literally) of a cheat!



In many ways it’s hard to blame Luis Suárez, as this hand ball was instinctive, and what pretty much every footballer would have done in his position. What it did expose though is the sheer impotence and incompetence of FIFA!. There is no way that a goal shouldn’t have been given in that situation, and not merely a penalty. To stop a certain goal, on the line, by cheating should result in a goal being awarded… think Penalty Try in Rugby. It wasn’t a case of stopping a clear goal scoring opportunity, it was a case of illegally stopping a certain goal from being scored.

It wasn’t exactly a great World Cup for FIFA though was it? Their decision not to introduce technology cheated England of a goal (but not I suspect a victory) and in so doing cheated millions of an exciting and evenly balanced second half. In addition, the Jumanji ball cheated players and spectators alike from anywhere near the amount of goals we expected from the best players in the world. Their greed and desire for profit, which led to them spreading the games around so much, prevented many spectators from seeing games, for example the England Group Games: Rustenburg (I suspect many are still looking for it on the map), Cape Town (800 miles South), then Port Elizabeth (630 miles).

The TV stations in their greed for viewing figures over hyped and overstated the skill levels of the teams, and supported by the many journalists reporting from South Africa, raised our expectations to levels close to over heating, and in so doing prevented us for having a fair, impartial and accurate assessment of the games.

But even worse were the players who cheated at every opportunity they could: stealing a few yards at throw ins, not retiring 10 yards, encroaching into penalty areas, advancing from the line to save a penalty, feigning injury, trying to get players sent off, and blaming the officials for their own lack of brains and pace.

And the worst thing of all? Nothing constructive seems to be proposed to change any of it! I would like to suggest one answer. Why not get a cross sport group of ex players together, but without anybody from Football to take a look at how they would introduce rules from their sports to the game? Mike Atherton (cricket), Will Carling (rugby), John McEnroe (tennis) spring to mind: the penalty try, the referral to a third ‘umpire’, hawkeye, not retiring ten yards, citing after the event, meaningful and precedent setting bans and punishments, the ingredients are all there are they not, so please stop the cheating and give us back the Beautiful Game!

Reflections from a Balcony in Spain: By Chris Marshall



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