Out of everyone who writes for this blog, there is no doubt that I care the least about soccer. I mean, these dudes are calling it “footie” like they’re actually European or something.
But I do care about Ireland more than anyone on this blog since I actually lived there for a summer and even remember most of it.
At any rate, what happened to Ireland in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against France was easily one of the most egregious pieces of officiating in the history of sport. (Since it happened in Europe, I shall not take the liberty of pluralizing the word).
The Irish and French were deadlocked in a 1-1 tie in their two-game aggregate playoff for a spot in next year’s World Cup. With the second game locked in overtime, whoever scored next was likely to get the trip to South Africa.
Perhaps with a little home cooking from the refs, it was the French who tallied winning goal which was completely illegal in not one but TWO different ways.
French star Thierry Henry, who was already committing a violation by being offside, compounded the matter by redirecting the ball with his hand before finding an open William Gallas for the winning header. As any soccer dummy knows — and I certainly qualify — you aren’t allowed to use your hands. Particularly twice. How this was missed was mind-blowing.
The plus side is that it allows us to recall some of the shoddiest pieces of officiating of all-time since it is a new member of the club.
The Hand Of God: Still considered the gold standard for bad soccer calls. A non-coked up Diego Maradona punched home a goal against England to lead Argentina to a 2-1 win in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup.
Hull in the crease: This one isn’t as clear-cut unless you live in Buffalo. Brett Hull was in the crease while the puck wasn’t, which should not have allowed him to score the game-winning goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. But it was ruled that he had established possession prior to the winning shot by kicking it to his stick, thus making it legal. Of course, you can’t kick the puck in for a goal, so it seems lame that you can be considered a possessor by kicking it to your stick. But certainly the long-suffering hockey fans of Dallas didn’t mind the call.
2007 NL West One-Game Playoff: Matt Holliday scored the winning run against the Padres despite the fact he still hasn’t touched home plate. He got his comeuppance this year, though, when he was hit in the nuts by a routine fly ball that allowed the Dodgers to beat the Cardinals in the playoffs. Things haven’t gone as well for the Padres since that game, though, as they have taken suck to a new level ever since.
Jeffrey Maier’s Catch: If replay existed in 1996, no one would know who this stupid douchey Yankee fan that reached over the fence was. Instead, his fan-interference home run helped propel the Yanks past the Orioles in the ALCS and to the beginning of their ’90s dynasty. No one has heard from the Orioles since.
Entire 2009 playoffs: It’s yet to be determined if umpires made a single right call in the entire postseason.
1985 World Series: First base umpire Don Denkinger allegedly missed a call of some sort. Since it aversely affected the Cardinals, I cannot verify if it actually happened.
1972 Olympic Gold Medal Game: The screw job of all screw jobs. So thorough that it cannot even be summed up in a few sentences, but the crux of the matter is that the US was screwed so hard and so repeatedly at the end of this game against the Soviet Union that they still have refused to accept their silver medals.
Game 6, 2002 Western Conference Finals: There have been plenty of terribly officiated NBA games, but this one between the Kings and Lakers is the one that everyone remembers. Regardless of whether it was some nefarious conspiracy or not, everyone can agree that Sacramento got the shaft.
Fifth Down: Football’s a much easier game when you get five downs at the goal line. Such was the case when Colorado beat Missouri in 1990 en route to a national championship. Which is still a better path than the BCS.