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Chelsea v Barca Game Reveals Blatant Flaws Of Football

tom henning ovrebo michael ballack Chelsea v Barca Game Reveals Blatant Flaws Of Football

The last time I visited my relatives in England, I was so embarrassed after I switched on the television and The Jerry Springer Show came on. I sat with my cousins and uncle as we watched the host, guests and audience members on TV going through their disgusting charade of ridicule and comedy at the expense of a few members of the human race. I was embarrassed because how could you defend that, as an American citizen? Yes, it’s entertainment, but it only gives Americans a bad name.

A similar level of embarrassment swept over me yesterday after the end of the Champions League semi-final between Chelsea and Barcelona. Yes, the climax of the game was breathtaking, but the mistakes made by the referee were appalling and the behavior of Chelsea players such as Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack were disgraceful. This time, I was embarrassed because the game brought to the forefront the flaws of our favorite sport.

At the level of a Champions League semi-final or a World Cup Final, you expect the most. But in the heat of the moment, poor refereeing decisions and disgraceful unsportsmanship only drag the game through the mud.

After watching the 2006 World Cup Final, I remember trying to explain to a colleague of mine who had seldom watched the sport why a penalty shoot out was used to settle the game. To him, he was perplexed. Why play 90 minutes plus 30 minutes of additional time and then reduce the outcome of the game and the decision of who would become the champion of the entire world to a mere game of penalty kicks? He had a point.

I was also asked to defend the controversial sending off of Zinedine Zidane that changed the reflection of the game and gave a huge advantage to Italy who went on to win the game via a penalty shootout. In the Zidane incident, the correct decision was made by the referee but only after he was informed of what happened after the fourth official had seen the TV replay. How could such a decision be made with the aid of a TV replay when normally this wouldn’t be allowed? Again, this was a difficult question to answer.

I only hope my now former colleague didn’t watch yesterday’s game between Chelsea and Barcelona. Not only would he have been disgusted by the unsportsmanlike conduct, but he would have been perplexed by the decision of referee Tom Henning Ovrebo to not award any of the at least four separate calls for a penalty.

As Graham Poll says, everyone makes mistakes. But that simply isn’t good enough. When you have a game that’s being played on the world’s stage and being watched by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, you expect the refereeing to be world-class. However, FIFA and UEFA have fixed nothing since the 2006 World Cup Final. Respect campaigns obviously don’t work. No technology has been adopted to indicate whether balls have crossed the line or not, and no changes have been made to give referees help in making the correct decisions.

Sure, FIFA has done some work behind the scenes but it isn’t enough and isn’t being done quickly enough.

Poor refereeing decisions aside, yesterday’s Champions League semi-final was a frustrating game to watch. Barcelona looked awful for most of the match and were unable to break down the Chelsea defense. Barcelona’s free kicks and shots at goal were abysmal (Dani Alves was a particular culprit). Messi, despite having three players marking him at times, was unimaginative and ineffective. Abidal was unfortunate to be sent off after appearing to come into contact with the sprinting Nicolas Anelka. However, Anelka tripped over his own feet but Ovrebo thought Abidal fouled him.

Chelsea should not focus entirely on the poor refereeing decisions. They had chances to win this match and could have sewn the game up without the need of the referee to award them one or more penalties. Didier Drogba, the most demonstrative of the Chelsea players, should have put this game out of Barcelona’s reach on several occasions over the course of the two-leg affair.

Other than the two expertly taken goals by Michael Essien and Andres Iniesta, the game left a bitter taste in my mouth. Over the two legs, Chelsea were ugly and didn’t exemplify how the game should be played or handled. Barcelona were a poor poor team over their two legs and were not able to play an appealing brand of football even when they had chances to do so. UEFA needs to take a long look at itself and how the game is refereed. And FIFA needs to review this game to see how the game is governed and what warning signs are visible that need to be rectified before these types of incidents turn people away from our favorite sport.

There was much to be learned from the f***ing disgrace of a match, as Drogba eloquently called it.

This entry was posted in General, Leagues: EPL. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

16 Responses to Chelsea v Barca Game Reveals Blatant Flaws Of Football

  1. Jeff D. says:

    Hey Brit wanker, Gaffer…………..

    what about the clear missed PK at Barca last week!

    When English teams lose the press whines and makes excuses.

    All of Roman’s money and the biased Brit press cannot buy the champions league trophy.

    Barca are the better team and on to the final!

  2. Fuuzball says:

    Napolean said:

    “In everything I do, I expect luck will be against me.” And he reached the heights.

    True champions don’t depend on the referee to make their luck, and Chelsea were up a man at home for 25 minutes. You have 90 minutes to score, if you can.

    All the ‘missed’ calls were questionable, and the Pique hand ball was lucky for Barca. Get on with it.

  3. Grunthos says:

    It’s not clear to me how we should have sympathy for Chelsea when:

    A) Drogba and Anelka were flopping all over the box, which is what led to “four separate penalty appeals” *and* an undeserved red card.
    B) The Pique handball was the only clear-cut whiff by the ref in Barca’s favor.
    C) Up a man, with defense the only priority, Chelsea allowed a Barca player to waltz up to the edge of the box unmarked.
    D) 90 minutes of abysmal passing by Barcelona yielded many chances for Chelsea to generate real shots, but instead all Chelsea could manage were efforts from outside the box or flops in it.

    Chelsea are the most psychologically immature team at the top end of European football, a trait that starts with their captain and propagates through the entire prima donna squad, and they won’t win the CL until they criticize themselves instead of the ref, and grow up.

  4. I have zero sympathy for Chelsea.

    Like everyone, I have my favorite incident that I thought was a certain penalty, but the fact is that Chelsea got two big breaks in the tie (Henri’s penalty shout, the sending-off) and failed to capitalize on them. Even if you think Chelsea deserved two penalties last night, that means it’s even in the miscarriage-of-justice stakes.

    The way their players reacted is unforgivable, even continuing in the cold light of day when John Terry says he supports what Drogba did. I hope UEFA go further than financial penalties – solid bans for 2 or 3 Chelsea players are in order (or 6 or 7 players, using John Terry math).

  5. CHELSEA S**T HOLE says:

    Q: What does a Chelsea fan do once they win the Champions league???

    A: Turn the playstation of and go to bed

  6. John says:

    UEFA did not want an all English final, plain and simple.

    So the official was insturcted to do as much as he possibly could do to help a woeful Barca side from an even more woeful La Liga adavnce.

    Manchester United will crush them and show Roma and the Italiano press that English football trumps that of Italian and Spanish football.

  7. John, that’s complete rubbish.

    Why the Abidal sending off? Why not give Henri a penalty in the first leg? Why not send Ballack off in the first leg, when there was plenty of justification?

  8. mike says:

    John
    your comment:
    Manchester United will crush them and show Roma and the Italiano press that English football trumps that of Italian and Spanish football.–

    Incase you don’t know there is very little English in English football besides the stadiom locations and the idiotic fans.

    The games both suced but at least we don’t have to see ninty more miniuts of Chelsea defending in and hoping for a lucky goal (and Essian’s was) and screeming for peneltys.

  9. tony says:

    the ref was just bad. no excuses. i don’t think it was a conspiracy per say. but i do think platini told that referee to not give up a penalty easily. that is the only possible excuse i can make for the referee. he was following uefa orders.

  10. mike says:

    and

    isen’t the rule “if you put your hands on the ref aggresivly then it is a red card”

    I’n minuntin bita!

  11. MM says:

    stop blaming the ref! play the game

  12. Anietie John says:

    An injured man cries out in pain, but Drogba cried out too loud and too soon. UEFA should consider the standard of officiating in the match and if they find it as deplorable as I think it was, they should let this mitigate Drogba’s punishment. The refereeing was so bad that you had to see it, to disbelieve it.

  13. RaiderRich2001 says:

    So once again the mainstream American sports media has an excuse to take a gigantic crap on soccer.

    Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn used the word “psychosis” to describe soccer fan passion. Tony Kornheiser on PTI was quick to point out that the lead of the story should have been (in his opinion)that the ref had to be whisked out of the country under guard. Where are the protests for these inaccuracies?

    The video is password protected so here’s the audio:
    Around the Horn (roughly 15:45 mark)
    PTI (Kornheiser’s comments roughly the15:56 mark)

    Now, if you’re going to protest Steven Cohen’s inaccuracies, where the hell is the protest for this? These people have 20 times the audience Cohen has. Where are the boycotts? Where is The Gaffer?

  14. Rickter Banquest says:

    Tony:

    Per se! Not ‘per say’, you moron. How embarassing for you. Especially if you’re English.

    P.S. Barca were disappointing, and didn’t quite deserve to go the final. Chelsea, however, deserved it even less so and should be ashamed of themselves on multiple counts.

  15. dave says:

    the final is a farce
    the ref has changed the cource of history

  16. boris says:

    even if the attitude of drogba is bad, the federation have to reflect before choosing their referee.i support drogba.

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