At the end of the first half, Germany’s Mesut Ozil was on a break, beating Sergio Ramos, but before he could take his shot, the young German was taken down.
Dirty play from Ramos doesn’t surprise me. Having watched his performances in previous games, like the match against Paraguay, I knew he was a dirty player. The problem is that Victor Kassai, the game’s referee, didn’t see any problem. This nonsense continued throughout the match. I actually felt physically ill watching Spain get free kick after free kick. I don’t mind watching my team lose against a better team, but when the loss comes due to poor reffing and poor sportsmanship (Spain in this case, Italy in 2006), I am infuriated.
While Portugal and Italy are known for taking dives, Spain’s performance this tournament puts Azzurri’s 2006 World Cup performance to shame. That’s saying a lot considering the scandal that erupted immediately following Italy’s World Cup win. Kassai should have paid attention to what Spain were doing, especially with what they had been doing throughout this tournament. While it has become a running joke on the internet, Fernado Torres’ dive the in Chile game was no laughing matter to the South Americans. They were unable to mount a comeback (they came within one goal with only ten men) as Marco Estrada was red carded because of Torres’ disgraceful performance.
It is just disgusting when the “beautiful game” is reduced to this kind of nonsense. Before taking down Ozil, Ramos not only stepped down on Lucas Podolski’s ankle (should have been a yellow card), but had dove twice when he was unable to beat Jérôme Boateng. Suffice to say, his performance wasn’t convincing enough, even for Kassai who definitely seemed to be calling the game in Spain’s favour. It was Ramos’ teammate, Andrés Iniesta’s performance against not only Boateng, but another German defender, which gave Spain two free kicks, the latter which set up the corner that won the game. Iniesta is also well known for his antics on the field, so much so that he has drawn criticism from former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, another well known diver. Even Spain’s David Villa wasn’t immune to this nonsense, taking a dive early in the second half after numerous failed attempts to get past the German defenders. While Kassai didn’t award a free kick for Villa’s efforts, he also didn’t card Spain’s top goal scorer for this disgraceful act. Looking at how defensive the Germans were playing towards the end of the game, one wonders if their lack of aggression was due to fears of being carded as even the slightest questionable action awarded Spain a free kick. This, however, was only half the story of this game.
While I will admit Germany didn’t play as aggressively as they did against both England and Argentina, when they did have possession, far too often it ended as Spain’s defenders brought down German attacker after German attacker. During the 86th minute of play, not one but two German forwards were physically brought down within the penalty box. Kassai called for the play to continue, almost leading to a second Spain goal. Time and time again, German aggression was met by one uncalled foul after another. It became so bad that by the end of the game, midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger looked utterly confused and downright upset, nearly losing his patience with Kassai after Spain was awarded a corner kick which should have been a Germany goal kick. After his poor performance in the USA versus Ghana match earlier this tournament (Ghana were throwing elbows all tournament and very rarely were they called on it), Kassai didn’t deserve to be reffing, especially not a semifinals game.
All in all, this loss demonstrates to me why I have not, and probably will not be a serious FIFA fan. Bad sportsmanship, bad reffing and the celebration of mediocrity (Iniesta and Torres have not preformed at all this tournament, yet they are adored for this nonsense) disgusts me to the point where I can’t enjoy the game. This is one reason I don’t watch Major League Baseball, but in the defense of “America’s past time”, I have never seen officiating this bad from even the worst of umpires. Knowing how corrupt FIFA has become in the last few years, FIFA Italia especially, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was something crooked going on during this match. In my opinion, Kassai shouldn’t have gotten the nod to ref this game considering his poor performance earlier this tournament and the biases held by European refs against Germany. Why was a European ref even picked for this game? A ref from another region surely wouldn’t have been this biased. The problem is that this kind nonsense that many soccer fans have come to expect though.
I don’t blame any German fan for losing his temper after watching this game as there is a definite reason for it. Once again, getting beat by a better team is acceptable, but being beaten by a cheating team with referee assistance is infuriating. Until this kind of nonsense is addressed, the “beautiful game” will not live up to its reputation. Disgraceful.
Here’s a little laugh for those German fans who need cheering up, via MagnificentGaol…
UPDATE: Before people comment about how Torres’ dive was simply an “isolated incident” and that Spain played “cleanly” most of the time, here’s a similar performance from Joan Capdevila which resulted in Ricardo Costa of Portugal receiving a red card.
Being one player down, Portugal was denied a comeback after David Villa offside goal and lost the match. Today, Germany became another victim of Spain’s unsportsmanlike conduct. Pathetic.