Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ivory Coast-Greece; illogical

I am sure there are aspects of football, baseball, basketball and hockey--sports that I have watched my entire life--that would seem illogical to those unfamiliar with these games.  Maybe the kneel down in football, chin music in baseball, intentional fouls in basketball to stop the clock, or referee relaxation of the penalty rules in sudden death overtime in hockey.

Maybe these rules would appear to be incomprehensible to those who watch, say, only cricket and soccer from the time they are pipsqueaks.

But for me, what I just saw in the Ivory Coast, Greece World Cup game just does not make sense.  In soccer it is difficult to get a decent shot on goal.  The teams can play for 90 minutes and each team might have five chances all game to have contested shots at the goaltender.

In today's game, with the score tied 1-1 in the final contest of group play, Ivory Coast seemed as if it would advance to the round of 16.  All they needed was the tie. Greece needed a win.

The game was in stoppage time. This phenomenon, stoppage time, is another aspect of soccer that is odd to a western eye.  But I'm sure it is peculiar for the uninitiated to observe a baseball game stopped so that a batter can step away from home plate in order to spit and scratch all over.

In the Ivory Coast/Greece game, there were three minutes of stoppage time.  The Ivory Coast had a fast break but could not score. Greece got the ball back and desperately was trying to get a shot on goal.  A ball was played into the box. A player for Greece went to kick it, and was brushed by an Ivory Coast player.  The brush was not too bad on replay, but you could make a case that the Greek player might have had a good shot had he not been brushed.

The rule in this case is incomprehensible.  After 90 minutes of killing each other just to have a chance at a contested shot, a brush in the box results in an uncontested penalty kick from about ten feet away. From ten feet a toddler could kick the ball past a goalie.  This rule essentially gives the hard fought game to the team getting the kick.  The punishment does not fit the crime. This is the electric chair for stealing a pack of gum.

On the penalty shot, the Ivory Coast goalie actually guessed correctly, dove to his left, but he had no chance to stop a rocket shot from such close range.

Game over. Greece wins. Greece advances. Ivory Coast goes home.

Someone who understands soccer has to explain this to me.

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