Don't shoot the ref!!
In the end, it was a match to remember. It was a match that could turn the indifferent into football fanatics. For 120 minutes, two evenly matched teams slugged it out on the pitch, trading heavy blows but refusing to take a step backwards. Until... an unlikely hero carried the hopes of a nation into the semi-finals.
Portuguese goalkeeper, Ricardo, saved a crucial sudden-death penalty with his bare-hands and then struck a near-perfect kick to find the inside of the net, past the outstretched hands of a diving David James. That was enough to bury England's hopes which rose and fell with an annoying regularity throughout the match. Portugal was through to the semi-final and England was left with an early journey back home and an excuse to blame their defeat on!
Urs Meier was turned into an instant villain when he disallowed a Sol Campbell goal that could have settled the match inside the first 90 minutes. Its just over 12 hours since the England defeat and the English press has already indicted, tried and convicted the referee. And that, I think is most unfair. Meier was in perfect position to see the proceedings near the goal-mouth when Sol Campbell and John Terry went for the ball. Terry's leap was fruitless as he missed the ball which Campbell deftly headed down into the goal. While Campbell ran away from the scene in joy as the linesman gave it a goal, Meier blew his whistle to indicate otherwise. As English players, fans and commentators expressed their astonishment at the referee's decision, the replays showed that all the referee had done was to play safe. So what did the replays actually show!?
When Terry leaped up to meet the ball in mid-air, his forearm was on Ricardo's left shoulder. Terry missed the ball, but Sol Campbell did not and the ball landed inside the goal. Ricardo might have saved it and then again, he might not have. But with Terry's arm on his shoulder, he could not get off the ground to either catch the ball or to punch it away. This amounts to obstruction and even though it was in no way intentional, the fact still remains that it was a foul according to the letter of the law which makes pushing a goalkeeper a 'direct-kick' foul! In fact, strictly speaking, Terry's actions can fall into not one but three categorizations of a 'Direct Kick Foul'
* charging into an opponent (the goalkeeper can also be called for this if his action is careless, reckless or uses excessive force)Urs Meier was simply following the law. Damning him for his actions only conveys a boorish attitude on the part of the English players and supporters... and earns them a dubious tag of 'sore losers'!!
* pushing an opponent, including the goalkeeper (if careless, reckless or using excessive force)
* jumping at an opponent in a careless or reckless manner or using excessive force (this includes jumping for a header if an opponent is carelessly or recklessly bumped, and jumping at the goalkeeper)
I hope that the English players and fans quit complaining and accept the fact that the deserving team won on the day. Yes, a penalty shootout is like a lottery. But then at this level, every team has to make its own luck instead of attributing their failures to referee and God!!