Did you see the game?
Chances are you didn't. The match was one of three that occurred Tuesday in the World Cup. The game was between Greece and Ivory Coast. Not a headliner but an important match for both countries nonetheless. Both teams would advance the next round with a win. Ivory Coast would also advance with a tie. Greece could only advance to the next round with a win. In the Word Cup the Ivory Coast like African teams in general not only represent their country but in many ways their entire continent. African teams are well underrepresented in the World Cup being represented by only five teams. Not too long ago the number of African Teams represented in the big tournament was two. Very little is expected in performance and wins from African teams during the world famous event that occurs every four years. That is why when one or more African countries show their strength and defeat teams represented from other countries or make it out of the first round many Africans as a whole stand behind these teams in show of support.
Ivory Coast was on its way of at least tying Greece in a game it needed to tie to make it to the next round. They appeared to have much control of the game with very little left on the game clock. Sadly with a minute left in the match during extra time the Ecuadorian referee, Carlos Vera, called a brutal, punishing penalty out of nowhere giving the Greece team a wrapped present. Greece was allowed to have a free kick in the penalty box, basically giving them the game. The penalty call was extremely questionable since it looked inadvertent and one often sees tackles and challenges that are way more violent or dangerous. The Greece team was not even in the middle of a serious scoring threat. And why end a serious game like this in a penalty kick? What happened to a team working hard and earning their way to the next round? Why should who wins or lose be up to the likes and opinion of one individual?
During the match Ivory Coast got called for 23 fouls while Greece got called for only 12. Ivory Coast was handed by the referee 3 yellow cards while Greece received one. While viewing the match one would notice the Ivory Coast being called for foul after foul allowing Greece to continue advancing the ball forward, enabling them to continue holding possession. One cannot help but to think if all those one-sided fouls were not consistently called if the Ivory Coast may have even won the game because their opponent often displayed themselves as not being able to advance the ball unless the referee helped them out with calling a foul on their opponent thereby providing them with a free kick. The Ivory Coast team was able to keep the score at a tie even during such unfavorable treatment.
The call appeared to arise out of racism, possible deep dislike for African teams which is prevalent in World Cup soccer and has been occurring for a long time. The Ivory Coast is not the only African team who has been treated much disrespect from game officials. As a soccer fan who has viewed World Cup games since the eighties I have witnessed many games involving African teams where they were constantly being called for foul after foul many times having their essential players being booted out of games for simply acts of competitive aggression, a desire to go after the ball and win, as if the referees rather that they walked around the field with their heads down and arms hanging behind their backs. Many times, this year especially, world cup commentators make comments about African teams poor showing on World Cup matches, as the commentator made mention during the Ivory Coast, Greece match. These commentators ignore the fact that many World Cup games involving African teams have displayed a contest where the competitors from this continent where carded multiple times and aggressive, motivated plays was offset with continuous fouls being called against them. They also fail to admit that for a long time Africa was only allowed two teams in the World Cup while teams from Europe and South America dominated the teams represented in the tournament.
While visiting Nigeria a long time ago as a young lad, I remember watching Cameroon play in a match and the game commentator Seamus Malin describe one of the Cameroon players using the word, "niggardly". I felt shocked to hear such a word pronounced on television especially while African players were out on the field. Growing up hearing Malin commentate soccer games in America I never thought that man would ever characterize black people in such a manner. I was shocked that an individual would be allowed to speak such trashy language on world television and life would be allowed to go on without even a slight challenge from anybody.
But now focusing back on the present what occurred against the Ivory Coast was wrong. The best team did not win that game. The competition was obviously tainted by a horrible call by a man who is either extremely racist or who may be involved in some kind of under level game fixing.
Racist people should not be allowed to officiate World Cup games. The World Cup is what it is. It is the World Cup not the European Cup or the European and South American Cup. It is the World Cup, meaning that it is supposed to represent the world and all teams from all parts of the world, Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, the Samoan Islands, Australia, Antarctica should all be treated with respect. If someone does not like African people then he does not need to be refereeing any game. If FIFA, the international governing body of association football, who is responsible for the World Cup, does not like black people, or African countries, then they should state their hatred openly so that people around the world will understand fully where this organization stands and what they are really about. People who want to view real competition can then hold their own version of a world cup where teams from Africa and Asia can compete freely and openly without being concerned of some official disallowing them the ability to deliberately compete to win.