World Cup US v Slovenia: Disallowed Goal? What Disallowed Goal?

June 19, 2010

In the 86th minute of the United States - Slovenia game Friday, the ball ended up in the back of Slovenia's net. Here is how it happened: Landon Donovan served a free kick from the right side. When the ball was in the air, somewhere on its way to the Slovenian box, a whistle sounded, and play stopped.‚ ‚  Some of the players, those who were already running, kept going.‚  One of them, Maurice Edu, ended up receiving the ball and flicking it into Slovenia's undefended goal. There was no celebration by U.S. players, because everyone heard the whistle. Inexplicably, after the game, everyone on the U.S. side called that episode a 'disallowed goal'.A disallowed goal is a goal that is scored during a soccer game that is subsequently waved off by the referee because of an infraction of sort or another on the part of the attacking team. That is not what happened here.‚  What happened here was a case of continuing to play after the whistle has sounded.‚  Occasionally, a player does that because of inertia (as was the case here), or because he did not hear the whistle.‚  Sometimes he does it because he is not 100% certain he heard the whistle.‚  Sometimes, if the referee is convinced he did indeed hear the whistle, he receives a yellow card for it. In none of those scenarios does it matter why there was a whistle in the first place So, all the complaining from U.S. players and coaching staff about a good goal being waved off is entirely unwarranted.‚  I would even call it uncalled-for and unsportsmanlike.‚  I would, if not, well... Do you remember Jamie Salƒ© and David Pelletier? I do. They were a Canadian figure skating pair that, in the 2002 Winter Olympics, skated a supposedly perfect routine that ended in a standing ovation. Despite that, they were awarded second place, based on their scores, behind a Russian pair. The incident set off a monster media circus.‚  Every time I tuned in to watch giant slalom or hockey, I would come face-to-face with Jamie Salƒ© spouting off quips of 'no fair' to Bob Costas or anyone else who would listen. Boy, was that ever annoying! I mean, who is to say they skated better than the Russians at all? Isn't figure skating a subjective sport to begin with? Well, thanks to that scandal, its not any more. Now, is soccer not a sport where refereeing is inherently vague and subjective? Right. ‚  It is now. ‚  Today, FIFA is busily removing videos of this incident from YouTube.‚  Tomorrow they are going to have to decide what they can do to improve their penetration into the biggest media market in the world. ‚  They might even (gasp!) work on improving referee accountability. All thanks to some old-fashioned North American pissing and moaning.‚  We are good at that! And we are good at sports. And we can all afford anything Adidas makes.