24 June 2006


First of all congratulations to the Socceroos for their achievements to date.

I wasn't going to post anything about Australia's draw with Croatia and consequent progression to the next round of the World Cup but as I watched most of the game on TV and have followed some of the reaction to it in the media (local and international) and blogosphere (mainly local) I've decided to add a few observations of my own to the mountains of comments.

The World Cup confirms to people such as me, who have only a passing interest in the game and an imperfect understanding of its rules, that soccer (aka football) is a genuinely world game, even though the two countries with most people didn't make the final 32 and the USA has now been eliminated.

As to the reasons for its appeal I'm baffled. It is so difficult to score goals that sometimes, perhaps often, an injustice is done: especially when a result is determined by a penalty shoot out.

The English are so worried about this that some of their mathematicians have devised a formula to optimise their chances of success with penalties. It is
(((X + Y + S) / 2) x ((T + I + 2B) / 4)) + (V/2) -1, where V = velocity of ball once struck, T = time between placing ball on spot and striking the ball, S = number of steps in run-up to strike, I = time that the ball is struck after goalkeeper initiates his dive, Y = vertical placement of ball from ground, X = horizontal placement of ball from centre and B = striking position of boot. For more about it see here.

Australia's performance

Almost everyone is praising Guus Hiddink's work as coach. This seems to have be borne out by the team's results to date, yet his selection of Kalac over Schwartzer as goalkeeper against Croatia surprised even me (and most of the rest of the world except it seems for a well known Australian novelist ). It turned out to be a gaffe of the first order, primarily but not only because of that simple fumble which allowed Croatia back into the game. Apart from that his selections, tactics and substitutions seem to have been appropriate for the state of the game but I hope that he's able to keep a level head for the next game (and beyond...?).


Much has been said and written about the central referee's inability to count to two: for examples see
The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Age and the BBC .

In referee Poll's defence of his handling of the yellow/red card situation it should be asked why the other three referees didn't communicate with him. (What is the role of the fourth man? It might also be asked why the offender, who initially appeared to be heading off the field, didn't complete his journey; or is this standard of "sporting" behaviour no longer expected?

It doesn't matter now, but I still haven't been able to work out why the last Australian goal was disallowed. If the central referee is responsible for keeping the time by his watch (surely an anachronism these days) any determination of the finishing time of the game will be at best a rough estimate.

In other matches the standard of refereeing has also been criticised, which makes you wonder what quality control methods FIFA has in place.

Perhaps Referee Poll should be given a few games in lower leagues to see if he can recover his form. Although it hasn't been widely publicised, this seems to have happened to NZ cricket umpire Billy Bowden, who has not been given any
test match umpiring assignments since his performances were widely criticised several months ago.

To make the central referee's lot easier I suggest adopting some systems from other sports eg
  • Timekeeping done by an off field official and signalled (as in AFL) with a siren.
  • Video replays used to determine doubtful goals (and perhaps other events).
  • All match officials to be proficient in one common language (perhaps players should also have a rudimentary understanding of it too).

SBS and ABC media coverage

IMO Simon Hill's commentaries on SBS have been, as
The Age put it "fair,[and] sharp", even though he was (like everyone else) a tad confused about the end of yesterday's game. I think it's overstating the case for the article to be headed "Wasteful SBS scores own goal on Socceroos' biggest night". I tuned in to watch the game, not listen to the backup comments people , so it didn't matter to me whether they were in Germany, Sydney or Woop Woop.

The ABC's coverage has been far thinner, despite sending Peter Wilkins to Germany for the occasion. He apparently only reports for the TV news, briefly and, it looks, from outside the grounds. Much of the background detail on radio seems to be provided by Rafael Epstein, the ABC European correspondent and Dan Hirst, with comments from Craig Foster, the Australian based SBS analyst.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for your comment on my site- i don't make out to be the author of any of the work on the soccer site- and actually thought i had credited the age (leaping larry) for that story- so thanks for letting me know that it wasn't done as it should have been