Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Is It With Italians, The Penalty Spot and Australia At The World Cup?A

What is it with Italians, the penalty spot and Australia at the World Cup? Last World Cup [Germany 2006], in case the bitter reality has been erased from your memory, Italy was awarded a penalty in the second round against Australia in the final minute of additional time. It didn't matter that Fabio Grosso had dived. Odds-on favourite to take out an Academy Award for his acting if the playing theatre had been a movie set and not a football pitch.

I knew from the outset of the match last night that it wouldn't end well for Australia. The referee and the linesmen were from Italy. I couldn't forsee that our hope up front, Harry Kewell, would be sent off for handball on the last line of defence. Kewell's lower arm moved slightly before the ball impacted upon it from a firmly struck kick but the top of his arm didn't move and that's where the ball struck. To the referee, in the heat of the moment, it probably appeared that Kewell had blocked the ball with his arm. Not actually the case, in my opinion, but unfortunately the ball struck the arm. The red card was unwarranted but would have looked pretty clear cut to the ref. Still, he's Italian and he pointed to the penalty spot. Understandably.

Pride has been restored to our football team, the Socceroos. To play for over an hour with only 10 men at the World Cup and not get beaten was a brilliant effort. Especially on those aging legs. Mind you, if the referee had sent one of the Ghana players off for a tackle from behind to Marco Bresciano, as he should have, that would have evened things up a bit. It was a straight red incident but he just issued a yellow card. If it had been in Ghana's penalty area he most probably would have booked the Aussie for diving.

Italians, the penalty spot and Australia at the World Cup don't mix. We were robbed. Again. As The Sunday Times put it- "RED-ICULOUS" and "ARMED ROBBERY". Couldn't have put it better myself.

After the 1998 World Cup match between Cameroon and Italy where Australian referee Eddie Lennie controversially sent off Cameroon defender Raymond Kalla FIFA was criticised in Cameroon for appointing officials from "non-footballing nations" [source - Wikipedia]. It's not as if the Italians should have a grudge against us.

Unfortunate as it was we Aussies will have another four years to whinge and lament. Gosh, we're the new England. Perenially disappointing at major tournaments and wanting to blame our bad luck on others. That would be sad if it wasn't so true.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Better luck next time.