Tuesday, June 22, 2010
World Cup whistles shrill compared to NFL
Buffalo Bills offensive lineman and soccer fanatic Kirk Chambers will share his World Cup thoughts with the AFC East blog throughout the tournament.
Six times last year, Kirk Chambers knew precisely why an official threw a flag on him.
Four false starts, one holding and one illegal use of the hands -- on No. 73, offense.
There's accountability on the most minor infractions in the NFL. Whenever a flag hits the ground, the guilty player and the penalty are announced to the world.
The World Cup doesn't insist on such formalities, not even when a winning goal is disallowed. Referee Koman Coulibaly didn't have to answer to anyone when he waved off a dramatic U.S. goal in a draw with Slovenia.
We still don't know why Coulibaly disallowed the goal or which player he found at fault. FIFA doesn't require Coulibaly to declare any information.
The call could prevent the U.S. from reaching the knockout round. A victory over Algeria on Wednesday morning would allow the U.S. to advance, but a victory over Slovenia would have given the Americans the option to qualify with a tie in their pool finale.
"The U.S. got robbed of a goal," Chambers said. "But I understand how the game goes. I wasn't going to throw the nearest object at my television. Everyone accepts that as part of the game."
Last week, Chambers gave his thoughts on why flopping discourages many Americans from embracing soccer. Mysterious officiating can be another deterrent.
Chambers views soccer officiating as a subjective process, comparing it to how a parent might deal with small children. Rather than viewing each call in black-and-white terms, there's a sense of keeping the calls even on both sides.
"When I watch a football game, the refs are very objective," Chambers said. "It's either a holding call or it's not. There are some judgment calls, but for the most part it's either a penalty or it's not.
"In soccer, it's almost as if the ref is officiating an argument between little siblings. 'I'll side with this sibling on this one, but I'll pay back the other one later on.' As a parent, you might use subjective judgment to keep the playing field as fair as possible, and you don't have to explain it."
Chambers explained why video reviews can't work in soccer.
"Game flow plays such a big part in making soccer the sport it is," he said. "You can't have instant replay because you don't want to steal from the flow. To stop play of the game to review a play seems absurd."
Chambers won't be able to watch Wednesday's game against Algeria because the Bills are opening their minicamp. He will DVR the game and hopes nobody tells him who won before he can get home to watch.
I don't like his chances. There has been plenty of World Cup banter among Bills teammates, especially with rookie nose tackle Torrell Troup, a soccer fanatic who had been backing France. Troup apparently couldn't handle the repeated heartbreak that goes along with being a U.S. fan.
Chambers predicted a 1-nil U.S. victory.
"Algeria sure possessed the ball very well against England," Chambers said. "It's going to be a good challenge for the U.S. to make runs to the goal, but I have to believe they're going to win this one."