I couldn’t believe what I was watching on Fox Soccer Channel last night. While doing my live radio Internet show I decided to keep an eye on my TV and see what was happening between Panama’s Arabe Unido & Canada’s Toronto FC. Watching the match I was in disbelief as once again Arabe Unido was flopping all over their home field and the ref just allowed them to get away with murder.
The goal for Unido was legitimate as a corner kick in the 40th minute was sent towards and settled down by Fidel Caesar and smacked over the goal line where the Toronto FC defender was a good foot past the goal line as he tried to clear it out. But afterwards comedy ensued and it was a sad display of officiating from El Salvadorian Referee Marlon Mejia.
Every single time a Unido player was barely touched, he would go down in a heap and start rolling around in pain and shaking their right hand as if it was stepped on. Or just a light challenge was enough to knock them down and act like they have been seriously hurt. While the Nick LaBrocca challenge in the 50th minute on Unido keeper Jose Calderon was not good, it was clearly a 50-50 ball and a yellow card. Sadly Mejia pulled out the red, but when you looked at the replay Calderon lifted his head after the contact was made, and a few seconds later he rested his head on the field turf and quickly raised his hands to his face.
Then the second red card came on Fuad Ibrahim after a succession of shots by TFC to equalize. All of a sudden a yellow card was shown to Ibrahim in the 87th minute. And while Julian DeGuzman was talking to Mejia, a Red Card was shown to Ibrahim and he was sent off. Ibrahim said absolutely nothing to Mejia and got sent off for no reason.
But the biggest disgrace was in the second match as the Columbus Crew traveled down to Mexico and faced Santos Laguna. It all started when Emilio Renteria got elbowed in his forehead and was cut. He was forced off to get his head stitched and bandaged up to stop the bleeding. Plus he had to change his jersey. Once the referee allowed Renteria to come back on the field, he was able to serve a beautiful ball towards Andy Iro and scored a big goal. Sadly that was wiped out as Renteria re-entered the match with a new shirt that never had a number.
But the incompetency went to the officials again as the responsibility was in the hands of the fourth official who should’ve brought Renteria back to the sidelines and told him to get a shirt with a number on the back. You could see Renteria running back to the field, stopping to ask the fourth official if it was okay, and was told to return.
The blatant stupidity of the referee’s caused the Crew to lose a legitimate lead and no matter what happened afterwards, either it would’ve been a scoreless draw or a one goal win by Santos Laguna it was always going to be highway robbery. If Laguna was the better side then I can give them the win, but these officials found a way to keep this win-less record for MLS sides in international competition on Mexican soil to continue and that is wrong.
If CONCACAF wants to be seen as a legitimate Confederation, they need to weed out the horrible on-field officials and make sure that they know the laws of the game from the first law, all the way to the last. If Jack Warner can’t be seen to govern this tournament wisely, it’s time for FIFA to step in and control the tournament themselves.