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Seeing Red at the World Cup
Penalties too severe for tournament that comes every four years
David Michael Weber (crossfire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-07-06 13:28 (KST)   
In every FIFA World Cup, questions over the officiating inevitably come up with the usual griping on bad calls, missed calls, and over-the-top calls. So far, this World Cup has seen red -- that is more red cards issued than any previous World Cup tournament

The 2006 World Cup has witnessed a record number of red cards, over 20, and yellow cards, nearly 300, issued to players. Has the sportsmanship of today's athletes deteriorated so badly, or has the authority of the referees gone horribly out of control?

Red and yellow cards have been handed out like they were candy these past few weeks. The purpose of these cards should be to deter unsportsmanlike conduct. But after so many cards have been thrown about like spent hankies, they become meaningless.

For World Cup matches, the punishment that goes with a red card seems too severe. When a player is issued a red card, he is removed not only from that current match but the next one as well.

For regular season matches, this punishment seems fair enough. But with the World Cup, which comes around every four years, such a punishment is detrimental.

Red cards often appear to single out the valuable players of a team, thus weakening a team significantly. If the next game is a higher level match, the team goes into it with a bit of a disadvantage. And while this disadvantage may aid the opposing team, if they win or lose, they have to realize they were not playing a team at its strongest.

In sports that involve more contact, such as American football and hockey, penalties are dealt with differently. In American football, players really have to push the envelope to get thrown out of a game, but penalties and fouls still occur whenever these things get too heated. When this happens, the offending team loses the ball and/or loses territory, but they generally don't lose any players. In hockey, offending players have to sit out for a time in the penalty box but are able to play later in the game.

"Different sports -- different rules"

Some would say the World Cup is no ordinary event. The ones I feel who truly suffer the effects of a red card are not the offending players but the team's supporters -- those who have traveled long distances to see their country play in the World Cup. It's rather disheartening to see valuable players removed by what are sometimes dubious calls.

They should throw the offending player out of the game either for a period of time or even the rest of the game, but not the next game as well. World Cup games are going to get really dull when players become afraid to go after the ball for fear they may accidentally brush up against the shoes of an opposing player and get a yellow card as a result.

Overall, it's not so much the issuing of the red cards that is the problem. It's the severity of the penalty that follows it, which drastically changes the course of a match and the World Cup itself. Perhaps FIFA should simply lessen the ban to apply only to the current game. As of now, if the two-game ban is suppose to be a deterrent to rough play, it doesn't seem to be working as there have been 20+ red cards given out.

Also, I've seen games in which a red card was issued against one player and the other player who was supposedly hurt is up shooting at the goal five minutes later. If a red card is going to be issued to eject a player and bar him from playing the next game, then the injured player should either have to be carried off the field or be dead.
Who will win the World Cup?  (2006-07-06 ~ 2006-07-10)
©2006 OhmyNews
A native Tennesseean, David M. Weber is currently at the grammatical grindstone cranking out gerunds, dangling modifiers and perfecting tenses as an English teacher in Japan. In his travels, he has hiked the Inca Trail, been mugged in Mexico City, broke his leg in Switzerland, attempted to bike through Mexico and failed, climbed Pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, drank great quantities of beer at Oktoberfest and gambled at Monte Carlo.
Other articles by reporter David Michael Weber

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