The Illusion of Objectivity in Football + The Ref Thing

If I say this is shocking, am I wrong?

[Hi guys, I’ve been out of the loop lately. School, sickness, and all that fun stuff. I was on Twitter earlier and I was surprised to see some of the things I read. It’s not a big deal but it just reminded me of a host of things that I wanted to rant about, so I’ve thrown it all together in some kind of coherent fashion (lol). I decided against splitting it but you can take it in two parts (as seen in the title) It’s controversial I guess, and so I apologize if anyone is offended beforehand. I’m not saying I’m right about anything; it’s just an amalgamation just some opinions and observations I have. I dunno if I’ll be able to respond to any comments as I’m still busy but I’m not ignoring you. Just short on time. Sorry in advance for that]

Generally speaking, the opinions of neutrals or a third party are sought in disputed events. If someone gets into a car crash, there is the perpetrator and the victim. If you ask one, both would say the other was at fault. Therefore you’d need a bystander or a person who has no bias toward either party to see the truth, the reality of what really happened. Which makes sense.

Objectivity itself is a wonderful thing and the ideal state of being in pretty much every scenario. It is something that should be strived for.

The problem, in my opinion, comes when you try to apply that same notion to football where I believe it’s almost impossible to be truly objective. Every person has at least one team they have a soft spot for, or a style of play, or even a player. There are views on what constitutes physicality, cheating, and the like. And so there is no bystander in a car accident in my mind because everyone is biased towards something no matter how subtle.

As such, I think sometimes the ideal state of objectivity becomes more of a case of trying too hard to be unbiased to the point where the reality of what happened actually isn’t said. I believe it’s one of two extremes, the other far more common one being that there are those who are so biased that they do not acknowledge the factual events.

Being a typical fan has two parts: 1) full-time fanatic; 2) internet warriors who wield keyboards in indignation at things said about their team. With the latter, depending on your power and/or experience level you can be somewhere between the two extremes: caustic troll and disillusioned hipster.

When something happens in football, more often than not the actual subject doesn’t really get discussed. For example an event happens where two players are going for the ball and in the aftermath someone -– a commentator is the best example here — says, “That was a dangerous tackle worthy of a red card,” and goes on to discuss it. And more often than not the first thing said will be something along the lines of:

“Are you a fan of (insert club of victim)?”

And later on the opinion of that commentator may morph into something like: “Well, it was a dangerous tackle but both players were sliding in so…” as if to prove that no, they aren’t and shift that initial opinion to suit that point rather than they believe actually occurred.

For a real life example of the above, take the Francis-Fabregas event yesterday:

And it demands the question: Does the club you support, or don’t support, determine the validly of your arguments? There will be people who read this and may recommend it to someone. Does my being a Barca fan make what I’m saying less valid?

I ask because I believe that in the sport of football some people feel that they need to morph their opinions to make them into one that they feel is more objective (when in reality it may not be). That by doing this it would make them more valid in some way. Because being seen as biased automatically means that they are wrong in some fashion and so they shy away. Not only that, but there is a general idea that being objective means being equal in condemnation and praise. That when discussing teams it has to be five criticisms for one team and five criticisms for the other for it to be valid. Which is fair if that is the case.

But I believe that sometimes that’s not always the case. If one is more criticisable (for lack of a better word) than the other, then so be it. It should be said. I don’t think both sides should be equally culpable if they aren’t. Otherwise you’re in danger of painting a very blurred picture, one that no amount of PhotoShop can fix. You’re not being objective, you’re being misleading.

If saying Racing should have had at least two sure fire red cards and the referee absolutely made a hash of that match by allowing violently physical play makes me biased, well damn. Take a letter head and stamp Miss Bias on my forehead. I’ll wear it like a badge of honour. But that doesn’t mean what I’m saying is wrong because I didn’t sugarcoat my words. I think tact, respect and context are all important and just shooting off criticisms won’t make for a strong argument (again, you’d fall into the other extreme of too biased to argue); however an argument shouldn’t just be dismissed because of the person’s supposed football allegiance.

And that happens to a lot of journalists and bloggers, as well as fans in comment sections, in a lot of articles, blogs, forums, etc.

“Ah, there are some good points, but he’s a Roma fan.”

So what? Why does that matter? Debate the point, not the club allegiance. But of course people know that; the thing is they don’t want to because they know if the conversation continues they’d be shown to be wrong and internet warriors can never be wrong. Therefore they engage in the common practice called distracting. That is to say, you say one thing and they say something similar which seems on topic but in reality has nothing to do with the topic at hand. It is usually said with the hope that the initial point, to which they had no suitable rebuttal, would be forgotten about.

“…therefore two plus two equals four.”

“Are you a mathematician?”

There’s a stark inability to admit to when they are wrong. Another common practice is when two fans are debating whether or not a certain event was a penalty. Rather than say, “Yeah, I think that was/wasn’t a penalty” they would say:

“I watched the game with so-and-so who are Arsenal (or) Newcastle fans and they said it was a penalty.”

Why is it necessary to bring someone else into the discussion and include club allegiance? Does them being fans of another unrelated team make it more legitimate? It’s just another opinion based on what one saw. You have eyes and you know the rules: what do you see in front of you? Do you really need someone to see things for you? Or it is a case of the club you support rendering you unable to see and determine things yourself? That you only see things through the lens of that team and are selectively blind to certain events? If so, there’s a problem.

I should be clear here: I’m not saying people striving to be objective are frauds, more like debating what constitutes objectivity in football. Do you change you opinion based on the accusations of bias (what other people say) or do you stay true to what you believe is the truth?

Objectivity in football to me is being able to recount events as accurately as possible while minimizing your bias. I think to some it is recounting events that suit the fancy of internet warriors rather what they feel is the true reality.

Moving on to the next topic

I didn’t get to talk about the referee issue, mostly because it’s a dead horse, but I thought I might as well give my 2 cents.

But before I get into that I’ll just get this out of the way now: despise is a strong word. If you haven’t dissed my mom or threatened my family then it’s all good. However if I had to choose between supporting the Evil Empire and painting my backside with cow manure, I’d take the latter all day long. (Let’s hope it never comes to that). I can’t stand them. I really can’t. So I’m not objective in the literal sense of the word. Despite what I said above, I won’t be offended if what I say below is taken with a pinch of salt, though I think I did my best to see the whole picture.

Now considering the nature of the environment (at least on Twitter) I’m assuming the thing with referees has gotten some momentum. I actually wrote a post about this a couple of months ago that I never got around to publishing so I’m just going to stick it here:

The referee issue

There is no conspiracy. I’m saying this point blank now. There is no conspiracy simply because an utterly inept organization that cannot even determine what time a match will be played until a week before couldn’t possibly have the coordination, subtlety, mental fortitude and foresight to even think of a conspiracy, let alone carry it out. It’s pretty hilarious actually.

A combination of idiocy, ineptitude and a lack of a backbone are different subjects however.

The head of the refereeing committee said they act based on media impact. Putting aside the absolute stupidity of that comment, consider the following:

– The most vocal media contingency in Spain is Madrid based.

– The most popular team in that area has a coach whose specialty is media, the so-called “puto amo of press conferences”.

– The media respond heavily to his statements and echoes them.

– Through the use of these press conferences this coach regularly puts ref under pressure after games. This happens relentlessly over the course of a season.

– The following season that team gets many favourable calls.

Given the above, a hypothesis can begin to take shape; “This season referees in Spain are under intense media pressure and, fearing for their jobs, make certain decisions to avoid being publicly lynched by the most vocal media contingency which negatively affects their ability to perform their duties to an acceptable level.”

Is the above hypothesis an utterly outrageous one given the context which includes quotes? Because that’s what some Barca fans are saying.

That argument of a conspiracy is in fact an incredibly prevalent straw man going around. For those who don’t remember a straw man is when you talk one argument (x) and change it to a flimsier, much more shallow argument (y, aka a straw man) so that it is easier to refute. There are people who, unconsciously or not,  are changing the argument from “many Barcelona fans believe that this season referees in Spain are under intense media pressure and make certain decisions to avoid being publicly lynched by the most vocal media contingency which negatively affects their ability to perform their job to an acceptable level” into “many Barcelona fans believe that this season referees in Spain have conspired to deny Barcelona a fourth Liga in a row, are actively favoring Real Madrid any way they can while harming Barcelona in the same way and this is the sole reason why Barcelona have dropped points and are x points back” making it easier to refute. And it will be refuted easily because there is no conspiracy and Barca have been very poor away from home. But the subject was never about a conspiracy -– it was about media pressure and the consequences of it. So it’s a form of distracting from what the actual topic at hand was.

Now what do I think?

Well, I can only go by what I see. I’m not in the mind of any delegates or officials. I wasn’t a fan in 1998 when some referee screwed some player out of a decisive penalty; nor was I born in 1976 or whenever when a referee screwed over Barca at some tournament. I can only go by what I see and what I see is there are times when Messi gets poleaxed in the penalty box and gets nothing, and times where Fabregas misses an open net.  When Atletico got hard done by not too long ago  and that these things even out at some point. That sometimes circumstance affects the call rather than what it should be and I feel the verbally abused man in yellow sometimes thinks, “If I make this call, what will happen” and knows at the back of his mind the FCB answer is: nothing. We, that is the players and coach, doesn’t feel the need to because whether you give us this call or not, we’re still going to win.

Also the media scares us (and Messi) so we like to make the pressers and interviews as painless and controversy free as possible.

I haven’t watched any Madrid games this season. When Messi or Alexis get bundled over, I don’t think “Dive Maria  got a penalty for that so we should have gotten one too” but rather “that was a foul and it was inside the box. Therefore that is a penalty.” Because I’m already opening up a jar of gummy worms here’s some food for thought:

Xavi and RoSELL (and Messi apparently) came out before the first leg of the Valencia tie and complained about referees for the first time since …. a while (how they got Pep’s permission is beyond me) and lo and behold, Pinto obviously handles the ball outside the area with the forearm. Forget red, yellow or a free kick, no call even happens. Did the pressuring of the ref make this non-call happen? Who knows. The linesman could have just missed it, but it is curious. And I think it’s fair to say that Liga refs are easily susceptible to pressure.

Pep himself has two choices regarding refs:

1) Take the easy way out and lay some blame on them for the team’s failures, causing MD and Sport to explode in self righteous anger. This will extend to the fans who will look to do the same.

OR

2) Ignore them and be a great sportsman who can own up to his mistakes. If things go well, it’s down to us. If things go bad, it’s also down to us. No excuses.

Guardiola of course chose the latter. Barca don’t need refereeing decisions for things to go its way. It’s not “We didn’t win because of the referee” but “We won despite them”. And that’s how it always should be, until there is a change in how the refereeing committee is handled and run.

But I think Pep chose this route to cultivate a healthy mentality not just among players but especially among cules. Sure, it might not get us the calls sometimes, but it’s infinitely better than the alternative, and one I’m so much more proud of. You can see the stark, and frankly shocking, contrast between both sets of fans in the latest Copa Clasico below (via elchapinx08):

There are some crazy things like Mourinho waiting outside a ref’s car (hahaha) and then said ref will apparently never call a Clasico again. Or crazy statements like the ref’s spokesperson saying, “What Mourinho did (the parking lot incident) and what Casillas said (told the ref to celebrate with Barça) in the latest Clásico isn’t comparable because it had no impact (in the media).” and when the judge didn’t suspend Pepe because Messi didn’t lose two fingers.

Our club has one spokesperson in my view and that person is Pep Guardiola. He and the players have already taken the stance against talking about refs and for the most part they’ve honored it. To talk about them now just defeats the purpose of taking that stance in the first place, make us seem hypocritical and, let’s face it, a couple of sore losers. I don’t think there is anything wrong with fans talking about them. That’s, well, part of what we do. It’s when the club itself takes on the whipping boy routine that it gets ridiculous. The RFEF and the referee committee are already doing a bang up job making proper fools of themselves; the club is bigger than that and doesn’t need to get involved.

That all said, what do I think us fans should do?

Well, I can’t speak for anyone but myself really. I think there are two ways of going about it:

1)  Continue to point out the double standards, misconceptions, injustice, false equivalency and become an internet warrior leaning toward caustic troll. Or continue to prove there is no conspiracy, similar things happened before you were a fan (but of course you wouldn’t know), share the plethora of insight experience has given you and become an internet warrior leaning toward disillusioned hipster.

OR

2)  Endure it, talking about only when you can be bothered to, and just focus on the football and the absolute joy of an irreplaceable team you have now. Just because you’re ignoring or don’t talk about doesn’t mean it’s not happening; it’s just that you have priorities, and that priority is immortalizing Barcelona.

And, well, that’s what I think people should do.

In the future, I want everyone to know that this was a Barca team that played magical football, that never felt the need to publicly lynch a referee, that knew how to lose and who strove to make sure its legacy was never in doubt. Don’t remain the perpetual victim, even if you do feel hard done by. It’s tough, I know, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing it out, but there are more important things.

I want people to discuss the joy of a football match. Like when something goes wrong, they say, “Aww shucks! But hey, wasn’t that fun?”  And they don’t feel the need to collect .gif like this and this and scream at injustices, or have a crazed look in their eye when they watch a game, remembering reffing mistakes instead of glorious plays. The time we tied a Bielsa-led Atheltic Bilbao in torrential rain at San Mames and it was just seven levels of epic. Or the time where we were kinda crappy away at Osasuna but we picked up our game in the second half and almost nicked it at the end.

Or those crazy team goals we score last year (via mastermind9682):

To those who are myopic, this might seem hypocritical after every thing that has been written, but reffing decisions add a certain edge to the game. Like you got shafted and everyone else know you got shafted, but you battled through it and won anyway. The Liga standard is far too low right now to be anything other than frustrating, but darn, when you see the team battle against and adapt to the Racing physicality, it’s hard to think of anything but, “man, what a team! Kick us, go ahead, but we’ll still play the way we want and kick your butts with flair.”

We have a scandalously good team. We’ve won Ligas through the blood, sweat, tears, hair loss, and questionable hairdos of our players, coach(es) and staff. There has never been room for doubt about the legitimacy of our triumphs, the way we won them will be remembered forever …. what more can you ask?

Yes, Barcelona is always expected to win. That’s a given. And we could still win the Liga. Why not? But what I’m trying to say is: we’ll be back next year. And the next. And then next. This squad isn’t going to disappear if we don’t win this year. The pressure isn’t as intense as it was four years ago. Missed one Liga out of four? No pasa nada. If Madrid win, congratulations. You achieved better results over the entire course of the season and are the deserved winner. But we’ll be back for our crown next year when Alexis and Thiago are fully integrated, Cesc finds a niche, B-teamers get minutes and we discover the greatest thing since Tello since Cuenca since Thiago.

I don’t want Barca fans to become the Madridistas in that Cuatro video. I want us to be less tense and more relaxed because dammit if you can’t fully enjoy watching this team, when the hell will you? Who cares what people say? In the future, us either getting or not getting favourable reffing decisions won’t be remembered; the football will. And then you can be an obnoxious hipster about it to your grandkids, when they’re ooh-ing and ahh-ing about Benjamin Aguero and you can say that you saw Messi score five goals against Leverkusen in a CL game.

Watch Barca games for the joy of watching Barca games.

You know that of course. But sometimes a reminder is nice.

———-

I feel this deserves its own space in a post. Maybe someone will write up something specific about it, but it’s nice to have this piece of information out in the open so to speak.

MESSI IS NOT LAZY! Reader Dani_el has graciously translated a Marti Perarnau SPORT article explaining why he sometimes walks on the field:

“Messi had suffered a series of grave muscular injuries, especially in February and march of 2006 that kept him from the Paris CL final, but also in December of 2007 and March of 2009 […] so when Guardiola came to the first team, there was an extensive plan of prevention and health care for Messi. Food, hydration and fixed rest were joined to a thorough preventive work. Juanjo Brau became his shadow, not only in Barça but in any trip with his NT. Each day Messi works during 45 minutes before training, and 30 minutes after, moving articulations, relaxing muscular tension, and working his lower limbs. People in the dressing room stress the importance of Messi’s dedication in the taking care of his own body. What was a serious problem, had become a procedure, taking in consideration a lot of daily effort.

It is also important to note the evolutionary process as a player. What in 2005 and 2006 [Messi] was a winger who ran 90 minutes at full speed, maybe in offensive plays, or maybe in keeping track defensively, has changed -– by explicit decision from Guardiola -– to an attacker that runs lightly and even walks for a lot of minutes, placing himself in central positions as a starting point, with short length associations with Xavi and co.; and that reserves his well-known accelerations and change-of-pace dribbles a few times per game: the chosen ones. That wild, intense Messi during an hour and a half, only gives himself away on the necessary moments: he has learned to choose those moments. This measurement from the technical staff show a significant decrease in explosive physical efforts that the player does per game. As a result, his muscular fatigue has been limited exponentially and now he is capable of facing 60 games per season, with reduced injury risk, contrary to the situation 5 years ago. As a matter of fact, and in the merging of trauma injuries and knocks in the game, only an overload in the “recto interno” in August of 2009 and an elongation in the “abductor” on November of the same year, has been accounted as muscular injuries for Messi, in these 3 and a half seasons with Guardiola.”
Martì Perarnau, published in Sport 25-II-2012

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107 Comments

  1. Jnice
    March 12, 2012

    Must say I loved this post and agree with everything you said 100%.

    If saying Racing should have had at least two sure fire red cards and the referee absolutely made a hash of that match by allowing violently physical play makes me biased, well damn. Take a letter head and stamp Miss Bias on my forehead. I’ll wear it like a badge of honour. But that doesn’t mean what I’m saying is wrong because I didn’t sugarcoat my words. I think tact, respect and context are all important and just shooting off criticisms won’t make for a strong argument (again, you’d fall into the other extreme of too biased to argue); however an argument shouldn’t just be dismissed because of the person’s supposed football allegiance.

    Happens on twitter all the time and that’s why I get so frustrated with it sometimes.

    On the ref issue: No conspiracy, but it’s clear we’ve been hard done by several times this season & it’s tough to take at times, but I’ve learned to deal with. Why? Because we’ve benefited from several decisions this year and it’s pointless to complain and put a fuss every time. It also annoys me when fans on twitter are quick to point out calls that went against us, but when it’s the other way around they stay silent. Not cool.

    haven’t watched any Madrid games this season. When Messi or Alexis get bundled over, I don’t think “Dive Maria got a penalty for that so we should have gotten one too” but rather “that was a foul and it was inside the box. Therefore that is a penalty.”

    Loved this bit because that’s how you are supposed to view things (IMO).

    Great post, Kari.

    BTW, miss all of you guys! I LOVE YOU ALL.

  2. blitzen
    March 12, 2012

    I know the word is overused, but what an epic post! And I agree with pretty much all of it. I loved this bit:

    There is no conspiracy simply because an utterly inept organization that cannot even determine what time a match will be played until a week before couldn’t possibly have the coordination, subtlety, mental fortitude and foresight to even think of a conspiracy, let alone carry it out. It’s pretty hilarious actually.

    Sadly, this is very true.

    Also, thank you for reposting and highlighting Dani_el’s comment from the other day. It’s a very important point because Messi does get criticized for seemingly taking it easy when he could be doing more to track back, defend, ect. Good to know that he is doing exactly what Pep and his trainers ask of him.

    And I love that first picture of Messi vs. the media. He looks like he is about to mouth “save me!” to the camera. 😆

  3. Dani_el
    March 12, 2012

    Nice to read you again Kari! Awesome article, and thanks for posting Perarnau’s article.
    I believe that there is no conspiracy (now), and that most referees sucumb to EE’s pressure (technical staff and players) and EE’s evil media (Marca, As, Telemadrid, etc…).
    Talking about that, As and Telemadrid have said that the reason why Pep doesn’t want to renew his contract is because he has asked Rosell to sell Pique next summer. One more from EE’S media, the surprising part is that Rosell has gone out and said this:
    It’s absolutly false information, a slander. It has no basis, and what I can affirm is that in Barça all sport decisions in outs and ins are taken by Pep Guardiola and Andoni Zubizarreta. In truth, is shameful that in economic crisis times like this, public money is spent by state media in creating falsehoods and defamations. It could be understandable by private media. But for state media, to make up slanders like this, I just can’t understand it. If I were a tax payer living in Madrid, it would really concern me.”

    • blitzen
      March 12, 2012

      Is Telemadrid state media? I thought it was just the RM version of Barça TV.

        • Dani_el
          March 12, 2012

          Is most usual to think it was EE’s version of Barça TV. They are always extremely biased. But this is a slander, and I’m happy that Rosell finally stepped out and did what he had to do. And that quickly.

    • mom4
      March 12, 2012

      Just became this week’s laptop wallpaper.

    • jordi™
      March 12, 2012

      I had forgotten he was right handed.

    • Puppet
      March 12, 2012

      And yet people still insist that he’s not a complete footballer…

  4. Miguel
    March 12, 2012

    There is no conspiracy simply because an utterly inept organization that cannot even determine what time a match will be played until a week before couldn’t possibly have the coordination, subtlety, mental fortitude and foresight to even think of a conspiracy, let alone carry it out.

    But that’s exactly what they want you to think!

    • March 12, 2012

      It’s a long con! Including letting us win the title 3 years in a row! They’ve been at it all along!

  5. hansh
    March 12, 2012

    Thanks for the rational article Kari! But I’ll admit you have me confused: some of the words in your article use American English spellings and others use British English, so where are you from? Have you lived in both places?

      • hansh
        March 12, 2012

        Oh, the dreaded deleted post! Thank you for the info though; I’m no expert on Canadian spellings, but a mix of British and American seems logical.

  6. Gogah
    March 12, 2012

    1st reaction : I LOVE YOU KARI!
    2nd reaction : I’ve been following your point #2 for a while now because I too can’t be bothered to fight against stupidity. But i dont think that thepriority is immortalizing barcelona. I think its something else.
    Thanks for an article which points out the fallacy so beautifully and one in which i identify myself in every word.

    punches fist ending too is totally apt for a totally sick article.
    I’d willingly dare any Madridista to argue against such common sense in this forum. Without ofcourse losing his/her head.

  7. messifan
    March 12, 2012

    Thanks for the write-up, Kari! I’ll try my best not to get into these arguments. Also, that cuatro video pretty much sums up the image I have of Mou’s fans.

  8. lyd
    March 12, 2012

    Nice article!

    Im not really concerned about refs if they keep on messing against us. That is only going to motivate the players further and trigger evolution in the positive direction. Creativity arises from oppression sometimes, we all know that. But what bothers me, ive said it before, is how refs views the physicality of the game while they judge fouls and penalty. Graham hunter said he doesn’t want football to end up becoming a non-contact sport. I agree with him partially. But how much contact is he talking about? Or is it like he laments on the progress of atomic physics since nuclear bombs were created, as if it was so okay to kill millions with swords and cannonballs before- pardon my analogy!

    Some aspects of physicality which la liga refs are oblivious to imo:

    Dash/shoulder barge:

    Its okay for a defender to dash the possessor when one wants to take the shortest route to get ball, provided the ball is considerably away from the feet of the possessor and the possessor is not directly blocking the route. And of course assuming the defender would be able to run at the speed of “Tello” and hence theoretically get the ball taking that route. But the idea of dashing at the speed of Tello fails if the possessor happens to have a reputation to change direction frequently or keep the ball glued to his feet most of the time. The hand motion while dashing is something to look at. If high-footing to get the ball is not allowed, then hand gestures above one’s waist should be treated with strictness!

    Slide tackle:

    Slide tackle to make a last ditch effort (like Mascherano) to save a goal or to prevent a winger from overlapping freely is alright. But what about sliding beyond the half way of your own half? Not cool! And what about suddenly slide tackling when the possessor have little time to react- Not cool to a greater degree! Even if the defender gets the ball like that, there should be some sort of penalty. Either a yellow or a card that says- “you are a retard! Now write im sorry 97 times and then come back to the field”

    Mistimed tackles:

    Okay that can always happen while judging aerial balls and while defending counter attacks, also in the latter stages of any half time. The factors of the state of the pitch and weather conditions should be taken into account. Players reputation should also be taken into account. Star players (like Ramos) can not get away with frequent mistimed tackles in a quality pitch. Mediocre defenders, however can get some affirmative actions while defending Messi, Iniesta as they can avoid tackles quite easily. But the margin of what separates a mistimed tackles from a horrendous one should be stated clearly. If more than one defender is involved in a situation, then the margin should be narrowed.

    ………….

    Humans are prone to errors so its alright for the ref to misjudge offside calls, differentiate a intentional handball from an unintentional one. If tiki taka leaves the opponents dizzy, shouldnt it affect the refs too? just a thought! One cant really cook up conspiracy theories based on these statistics without having taken the sum of all the facts. Even if all the facts are accumulated, its really hard to fuse them in an acceptable theory. Too much effort for what?
    When one average cule, lets call him CuleA, sees a legitimate goal disallowed, he may wonder about how in the past RFEF let Mou and Pepe get away with gouge and stomp incidents. He then vaguely concludes that mou and his EE has some sort of influence on RFEF which in turn influenced the wrong call against us. This sort of conclusion is not right and not at all a classy/proper attitude. What is also not classy is that another cule, call him CuleB, would label CuleA to be anti-classy and then indirectly claim himself to be classy/more than a fan. If CuleB cant disprove the statements that built the conspiracy theory made by CuleA, then CuleB should just ignore the whole claim. Who can prove that CuleA does not appreciate the general game and aesthetics (on the same level as CuleB, if not more) and make conspiracy theories at the same time?

  9. ooga aga
    March 12, 2012

    this real madrid team will never be considered as one of the greats the way this barca is… the way this barca always will be. even while garnering 10 less points than RM, this barca has always looked better. and they have mostly outclassed RM when they have faced off.

    either way, this RM simply does not exhibit the art and spectacle that barca does, that captures the hearts and imaginations of the people. that of RM is a factory widget, rather than a handcrafted keepsake. it’s a hallmark card, rather than a hug and a sincere comment. it’s a meaningless f**k rather than passionate lovemaking. it is empty and soulless.

    even if they wrest the liga from our hands, it will be passed over by history. RM can not make people feel the way barca do. and that is what people remember.

    im sure some merengue will take issue with this. let her. let him. then let them kiss my heiney.

    on another note, amazing to see that we have had an unsettled forward line pretty much the entire season. and yet we still cling to the hope of a league title. villa, playing with a fractured leg that then broke. afellay with 6month knee hiatus. alexis, on and off injured all year. pedro, the same. we have been patching it together with B teamers and the versatility of iniesta and cesc, as well as alves and adriano. of course, we have messi…the perfect 10.

    • March 12, 2012

      I just shed a tear reading your second paragraph. This Barcelona team almost transcends results. Almost

    • K_legit in Oz
      March 12, 2012

      either way, this RM simply does not exhibit the art and spectacle that barca does, that captures the hearts and imaginations of the people. that of RM is a factory widget, rather than a handcrafted keepsake. it’s a hallmark card, rather than a hug and a sincere comment. it’s a meaningless f**k rather than passionate lovemaking. it is empty and soulless.

      This…

    • Kimcelona
      March 12, 2012

      Great post ooga aga!
      I think I shed a tear too.

  10. BarcaOwl
    March 12, 2012

    Thank you for this, Kari. Sometimes, a little reminder of what’s important never hurts. I hope you’re feeling better.

  11. Kimcelona
    March 12, 2012

    “I ask because I believe that in the sport of football some people feel that they need to morph their opinions to make them into one that they feel is more objective (when in reality it may not be). That by doing this it would make them more valid in some way. Because being seen as biased automatically means that they are wrong in some fashion and so they shy away. Not only that, but there is a general idea that being objective means being equal in condemnation and praise. That when discussing teams it has to be five criticisms for one team and five criticisms for the other for it to be valid. Which is fair if that is the case.

    But I believe that sometimes that’s not always the case. If one is more criticisable (for lack of a better word) than the other, then so be it. It should be said. I don’t think both sides should be equally culpable if they aren’t. Otherwise you’re in danger of painting a very blurred picture, one that no amount of PhotoShop can fix. You’re not being objective, you’re being misleading.”

    THIS!!!!!!! I’ve been trying to say this for weeks (and have been accused of all sorts of things)!

    Leave it to Kari to put into a post what I have been feeling for most of the season. Thanks for this EPIC post!

    My other favorite part:

    “That argument of a conspiracy is in fact an incredibly prevalent straw man going around. For those who don’t remember a straw man is when you talk one argument (x) and change it to a flimsier, much more shallow argument (y, aka a straw man) so that it is easier to refute. There are people who, unconsciously or not, are changing the argument from “many Barcelona fans believe that this season referees in Spain are under intense media pressure and make certain decisions to avoid being publicly lynched by the most vocal media contingency which negatively affects their ability to perform their job to an acceptable level” into “many Barcelona fans believe that this season referees in Spain have conspired to deny Barcelona a fourth Liga in a row, are actively favoring Real Madrid any way they can while harming Barcelona in the same way and this is the sole reason why Barcelona have dropped points and are x points back” making it easier to refute. And it will be refuted easily because there is no conspiracy and Barca have been very poor away from home. But the subject was never about a conspiracy -– it was about media pressure and the consequences of it. So it’s a form of distracting from what the actual topic at hand was.”

    Oh, if I could find you and kiss your feet! 😀 jk, jk
    I swear we have the same brain. And not to sound like I’m repeating everything, I’ll just say I agree with EVERYTHING in this post, its just that those two paragraphs needed to be highlighted for the share TRUTHFULLNESS of them!

    Thanks for the great reminders as well. I am guilty, I must admit of letting my anger over decisions make me not enjoy some of the games. The Espanyol one and the Osasuna one come to mind but I have been trying to adhere to your #2 advise and will continue to for the remainder of the season till we can fight again next season.

  12. I do very much disagree with Guardiola’s way of dealing with these questionable calls. Yes, there is no doubt that it is a very Gentleman like behavior from him. But the time to be a bit rowdy has come. He should exactly come out the same way like he did before the UCL semi final. If he is going to continue playing the Gentleman, we will be starting with a huge handicap each time we step into the field. May be it’s time stop being so nice to ref. Anyway it will not matter this season, but next season it is going to be crucial. When you are dealing with a rascal like Mourinho, sometimes playing nice is not the right option.

  13. I agree so much with this post. Especially that criticism of two sides do not have to be equal when things to criticise in the two sides are not equal, and the refereeing is affected by media pressure versus refereeing conspiracy thing which many even very rational Barca fans seem to be trotting out in response to the people who simply feel media pressure is getting to refs.

    I laughed at how true the point that an organization as utterly clueless as the RFEF would surely be unable to run a conspiracy.

    As for British/American English spellings I think a lot of people over in Asia will also mix the two. Our school systems and exams and all teach official British English, and I mostly use colour not color and foetus not fetus and haemophilia not hemophilia and sulphur not sulfur and so on. But most of our pop culture, especially books and the internet, is American English. I often use realize instead of realise or z in almost anything where there is z/s alternatives and so on. Though I do alternate other ways too, without really noticing (I actually wrote criticiSe in the first paragraph, interestingly enough, though I’d usually say criticize, and a few days ago someone here in college in Australia was pointing out to me that I was spelling colour wrong cos I was writing it as ‘color’ though I usually use ‘colour’ too). Though I find aluminum and sulfur and hemophilia and most of the more ‘visible’ American spellings odd. I guess Canada is the same, the Queen’s English but lots of American pop culture (probably many people in Australia too I guess).

    And Oil_Can haha it’s interesting you asked if K_legit knew someone from Melbourne, he’s in Melbourne now.

  14. Ron Mexico
    March 13, 2012

    Unpopular Opinion Alert:

    So I’ve been watching highlights of the past few games because I work a lot and haven’t been able to watch much live action recently, and I have to say… I really don’t like Ray Hudson.

    • blitzen
      March 13, 2012

      LOL. You’re not alone there. Lots of people find him extremely irritating.

      Personally I like him, but preferably in small doses. I don’t get to watch GolTV coverage much, so for me he is a fun over-the-top treat. If I had to listen to him more often I would probably find him more annoying than entertaining.

      • March 13, 2012

        I can see how Ray might be irritating in large doses but then again (other than Barca) who/what isn’t?

        Though if you folks heard the GOLTV commentators NOT named Ray or Phil you would beg for more Ray. They are the dull brigade. At least Ray is passionate about the game and especially about his favourite players.

        I suspect he has a picture of Ozil on his bedroom ceiling.

        • mom4
          March 13, 2012

          I respect Ray because he loves the beautiful game when it is played beautifully. I love his metaphors. Really, Phil(now that he doesn’t criticize VV constantly for form that was shaky in the past) and Ray are my prefered commentators. The British ones 1. can’t say a good thing about Busi without bringing up 2 year-old dives 2. can’t pronounce our home stadium’s name much less the names of the players and 3. lose all sense of objectivity when we are playing against an English side.

          • Ron Mexico
            March 13, 2012

            It is funny (ridiculous?) how the British commentators will begin to refer to a top English side as “we” when faced with a tricky tie in Europe. It kind of reminds me of the United States’ coverage of the Olympics.

            But yeah, if he didn’t start screaming when every chance was being created I think I’d like him a lot more. It’s like each match is the first one he’s ever seen. Its more than a little grating.

            When given a choice I prefer the Spanish speaking announcers. Even if I can’t always understand what they’re saying.

          • March 13, 2012

            I am a fan of Ray as well. The passion radiates through the screen and his metaphors are always a source of laughter for my family as they’re walking by the tele and have no idea what’s going on. “WHAT did he just say?” “Is that a shriek??”

            You do know the “other” two I’m referring to right? Could they be any duller? I swear I could do a better job commentating without even watching the game.

          • BarcaOwl
            March 13, 2012

            I’d rather have an enthusiastic commentator than dull ones. I’ve listened to one commentator’s whose ‘goal’ might as well have been spelled ‘yawn’. At that point, it was a lot more fun to watch it with the mute button on.

  15. Barca_Donut
    March 13, 2012

    I’ll say more later, but just want to say how much I love this review! Says everything I was thinking/feeling and a good headslap for things I should have been doing and wasn’t. Thanks Kari!!!

  16. Barca_Donut
    March 13, 2012

    Right! Reread it and it’s even better second time around. Like I said before, it was everything I think and more.

    Because Cule-land hasn’t been completely happy this season (understandable to a certain extent) and especially in the past few weeks. Generally, it’s been a division in the fans. As you said, one extreme is conspiracy theorists who blame a combination of RFEF/Blatter & putting UNICEF on the back this season. And the other extreme are the fans that spend their time saying: “I’m so objective that everytime you say penalty, it wasn’t. Because I’m *that* objective.” Honestly, most cules don’t fall into either category. Obviously, RFEF are so useless that if they tried to conspire to give EE La Liga, they would accidently give it to Osasuna. And we can’t blame Blatter for everything (unfortunately). But we’re also not blind (or trying to be) to the clear pattern of what happens in every. single. EE. match. And then, in turn, the difference to the treatment of all the other teams.

    Anyways, I’ve been ranting about this on twitter for the past few weeks too, but this post has given me a different perspective. Because:

    1) We really can’t complain. We’ve had our fair share of calls go our way.

    2) It really doesn’t matter.

    And it doesn’t. We’ve been able to win several times with refs giving dodgy calls etc. And in 20 years time, no one is going to remember these past couple of weeks where cules spent their time sulking at non-penalties and red cards that should/shouldn’t have been given. What everyone is going to remember is the beauty of this team. And the happiness it’s given us. The way this team plays won’t last forever, this squad won’t last forever but it’s here now and it plays this way now. Let’s enjoy every last second of it. EE can win this season’s La Liga, if they like. And do you know what history’s going to show? A blip on the record.

    “Do you remember *that* Barca team? The one with Messi and Xavi and Iniesta? It won x number of La Ligas in a row, except the 11-12 season. The best team in history, that was.”

    And no one’s going to say, ‘why did they not win those x amount of Ligas every single year?’ because in the whole scheme of things, it’s a blip, an anomaly, one no one will remember.

    I think I’m starting to ramble now, but basically what I’m saying is that from now on, I’m just going to enjoy this golden era and keep that smile on my face that appears whenever I watch our team play.

    • Manish
      March 13, 2012

      Reminds me of LOTR.. Frodo and Sam..

      Sam: I wonder if we’ll ever be put into songs or tales.
      Frodo: [turns around] What?
      Sam: I wonder if people will ever say, ‘Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring.’ And they’ll say ‘Yes, that’s one of my favorite stories. Frodo was really courageous, wasn’t he, Dad?’ ‘Yes, my boy, the most famousest of hobbits. And that’s saying a lot.’
      Frodo: [continue walking] You’ve left out one of the chief characters – Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam.
      [stops and turns to Sam]
      Frodo: Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam.
      Sam: Now Mr. Frodo, you shouldn’t make fun; I was being serious.
      Frodo: So was I.
      [they continue to walk]
      Sam: Samwise the Brave…

      • Barca_Donut
        March 13, 2012

        Funny thing is…I was thinking about it as I wrote it! 😀

    • sd
      March 13, 2012

      Just to add to your point- Here are some of the other teams that are thought to be the greatest ever:

      Sacchi’s Milan only won 1 Serie A if I am not mistaken and 2 European Cups

      The great Ajax side of 71-74 won the league 3 times and 2 European Cups

      The great Bayern Munich side of 72-76 won 3 leagues and 3 European Cups but they only won both in the same once – in 74

      Di Stefano’s Great Madrid side – the one with 5 European cups – won the league in 54, 55, 57, 58, 61 while winning the European Cups in 56, 57, 58, 59, 60 – so “only” twice they did the double

      This Barca has won the treble once as well as being the only team to win everything on offer in one season, won the double once, won three consecutive leagues and they are still building on that.

      It seems that results are not the end-all be-all of the greatest teams. Its what they did for the game in setting new standards, innovating tactics, playing style, entertainment value. Furthermore, no team has ever lived up to the standards of winning like this for more than 3 years except for the great Madrid side and as far as I am concerned this Barca side is not done by far. They will build on this success, maybe not this year but definitely next.

    • sd
      March 13, 2012

      p.s. Please correct my dates if they are wrong. I was not alive for three of those teams and had no idea what the hell football was for one of those teams.

  17. blitzen
    March 13, 2012

    From the recent Thiago interview in El Mundo:

    Q. What goes through your head when people say you are Xavi’s heir?

    A. We have nothing to do with each other. As a symbol? Since we’re both canteranos and we play the same position, people want to find the heir, but it’s not like that. I hope to continue playing for a long time alongside him. The best thing that could happen to a boy from the cantera is to play alongside his idols. Xavi is one of them, Andrés Iniesta is another… Right now I see myself more of a complement than as an heir.

    Translation via Con La Roja blog:

    http://conlaroja.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/thiago-alcantara-at-el-mundo-magazine/#more-9329

  18. ooga aga
    March 13, 2012

    most times hitting post this year, from the official site.

    EQUIPO PALOS
    FC Barcelona 21
    Liverpool 21
    Valenciennes 18
    Betis 18
    St Etienne 17
    Manchester City 17
    Juventus 16

    • ooga aga
      March 13, 2012

      and among players:

      JUGADOR PALOS
      Bakary Sako 9
      Leo Messi 7
      Cristiano Ronaldo 6
      Luis Suárez 6
      Marcus Rosenberg 6
      Rubén Castro 6
      Cesc Fàbregas 5

  19. barca96
    March 13, 2012

    A question to our Canadian folks.

    I watch two property related shows which is based in Canada; Property match & Property virgins.

    I noticed that instead of saying house as in how’se, they say it heu-se. Why is that?

    And why do Americans love to make fun of you guys especially in How I Met Your Mother? I’ve been watching American tv shows since 1995 starting with Friends and Married with Children and they all seem to make fun of Canadians.

    Why is that okay and why does it look so wrong to make fun of Mexicans? Isn’t it the same thing?

    Do Canadians make fun of Americans the same way Americans make fun of you guys? It will be funny to hear their side of jokes for a change 🙂

    • Blitzen
      March 13, 2012

      1. Canadians have different regional accents just like Americans do, only not as pronounced (except for the Frenchies and the Newfies of course). People from Ontario in particular have a tendency to pronounce it like “oot of the hoose”. Not me, I’m from out west.

      2. Americans make fun of Canadians because they are insecure and it makes them feel important. Also, many of your favourite TV/Hollywood stars actually are Canadian, so there is an element of self-parody as well. We’re funny like that.

      3. Canadians don’t mind, because we know we are superior and they are just jealous. We make fun of them, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKh0P9o6y18
      You won’t understand why this video is so funny if you’re not Canadian, though. 😛

      4. When Americans make fun of Mexicans it often comes from a place of xenophobia or outright racism, which is why it’s not funny. Good-natured ribbing is fine. I’m sure Mexicans have their own “Americano” jokes.

    • Ryan
      March 13, 2012

      The mocking of Canadians is pretty mild. Just compare the border states in the north to the south – in Michigan not only can Canadian coins be used in some vending machines, but they even had a Canadian governor recently! Don’t be expecting a Mexican-born person becoming Arizona’s governor anytime soon…

  20. March 13, 2012

    So speaking of mocking Canadians, and because mods always like to spill the beans and because blitzen might be a bit shy, there’s a new mod among us ….

    blitzen, white courtesy phone! blitzen, white courtesy phone!

    One reason, frankly, was we feel like Canada has a lot to answer for, what with the Tragically Hip, Chantal Kreviazuk, Celine Dion and Justin Bieber. It is, frankly, appalling. And then there’s poutine. And “Eh.” And Canadian pizza, which I was once subjected to in a small town in Manitoba. So we’re sincerely hoping that an extra mod from …. you know …. up there will begin to undo the damage to the cultural scales.

    And oh, yeah, some feature called the blitzen Awards shows humor, insight and a gift for being able to look at this freakin’ game in the proper way. And it’s fun. Lord knows we need fun.

    Anyhow, tip those phantom cups to blitzen, who will probably blush at being outed, which makes me giggle with glee.

    • messifan
      March 13, 2012

      Congrats Blitzen!!!! Yay, for more fun 🙂

    • Messiah10
      March 13, 2012

      Kxevin,

      Don’t forget Canadian Bacon??? WTF? They did give us Jim Carrey, Rick Moranis, John Candy, & Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky! OH, how could I forget, Michael…Freaking…J…FOX!!!

      • cuqui
        March 13, 2012

        Plus Neil Young.

        Joni Mitchell.

        And my mom.

    • blitzen
      March 13, 2012

      Kari says the newbie has to clean the other mods’ boots. 🙁

      And I’m sorry about Justin Bieber, but we’re not taking him back!

      (Thanks for the welcome, everyone!)

    • blitzen
      March 13, 2012

      And what do you have against poutine anyway??? Just last week I had poutine with three kinds of pork and peppercorn gravy. I may be 6 months closer to death but at least I die happy. 🙂

    • Lou
      March 13, 2012

      Kxevin, I mostly agree with your reviews, but putting the Tragically Hip (awesome) and Justin Bieber in the same category? No. Just no.

      And to be fair Celine Dion has a pretty amazing voice. Not a huge fan of her songs though.

      Also, congrats to blitzen, I look forward to reading your articles!

  21. footballfan
    March 13, 2012

    Gomez is attempting to break Messi’s record. Crazy stuff from Bayern.

    • Helge
      March 13, 2012

      Remember 2 seasons ago, when they beat Sporting 12-1 on aggregate?
      And do you remember their next round in CL?…

      I still don’t see them anywhere close to EE or us, they will surely get eliminated. Maybe even AC Milan is stronger than them^^

      This CL will go to Spain, whatever Bayern, Neaples, Milan etc. do!

      • Bayern with Schweinsteiger >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> AC Milan.

        Milan are quite mediocre.

        Bayern are more reliant on Schweini than probably any of the other CL teams are on a single player but they are world-class throughout the pitch. Neuer, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Ribery, Mueller, Gomez are all Barca quality (not saying they would displace our starters but that they are the level to get games for this incredible side). They’re strong and fit and technical and clinical and at full flow play possession better than any side except us.

        Milan are solid and have lots of individual talent up front but they’re unbalanced, slow, have huge weaknesses across the pitch (they are a good side- I’m comparing to CL-contender level teams over the past decade, which they are nowhere near), have a midfield that is nowhere near world class and only have Barca-quality players in Ibra and Thiago Silva. They, unlike Bayern, are consistent (in the league at least) though but they just don’t have the class to peak anywhere near Bayern or the Spanish sides.

  22. Messiah10
    March 13, 2012

    I hope Mario Gomez doesnt get a 5th goal. Poaching 5 goals(even though the 4th was a sublime finish) should not be in the same category as Messi’s 5(even his 4th was such an acute angle that it’s worthy of class). Looks like Basel may stop him!!! C’mon 1:57 extra time…OVER!

  23. messifan
    March 13, 2012

    That was close! No Cinderella story for Basel 🙁

    • Anonymous_69
      March 13, 2012

      One Cinderella story is enough, Apoel ftw!

  24. K_legit in Oz
    March 13, 2012

    hahahahaha Inter are back to where they belong..the recycle bin of football history

    • K_legit in Oz
      March 13, 2012

      Also, guy who scored the winner was Brandao for Marseilles..booooooooo

  25. Messiah10
    March 13, 2012

    Kari,

    Fantastic post! Your theory on why there simply is NO conspiracy is ground breaking! La Liga higer up’s aren’t intelligent enough to coordinate fixed results. I was going to suggest switching ref’s to different countries, but i think it was Kxevin who mentioned it 1st. To piggy back off that: Having PROFESSIONAL REFS means they should be full time, performance evaluated and awarded or relegated based on year end reviews. Before a ref even begins, a questionaire should be filled out w/which club they support, what region or province their from, etc. That’s common sense. Even the most professional ref will feel some sense of loyalty to a club he supported as a child. How, then, can they be biased while officiating a game where that team is involved? Obviously, language barrier is an obstacle for moving ref’s to different leagues and would severely limit the # of refs in each country. Especially, English speaking ref’s moving abroad since no one who speaks English as a 1st language learns a 2nd.(most, that is) Any how, great post, blog, insight, opinion. Thoroughly enjoyed!

  26. Messiah10
    March 13, 2012

    Wow That was a crazy end to Inter vs Marseille.

    • Ryan
      March 13, 2012

      Next game’s going to be a big day for whoever is Marseille’s back-up keeper!

  27. March 13, 2012

    Looking forward to the blitzen awards posts! Though I knew she was going to be a mod once I gave her my endorsement 😛

  28. So I’ve continually said I don’t really hate Ronaldo, much as he is hilarious to make fun of, but think of him more like that one vain friend we all have who every time you go out with keeps on checking his precisely gelled hair in car windows- I used to follow United in the EPL in 2007-2009 when him (and the quality they had across the pitch then) made them quite a fun side to watch and I like that he’s been above much of the in-game nonsense from Madrid through the Hell Clasicos. Though he’s still hilarious as the butt of jokes when we kick Madrid ass.

    Anyway:

    the Portugal international insisted that he took just as much satisfaction out of Messi’s stunning feat in the 7-1 rout of the Bundesliga outfit as everyone else.

    “I’m happy for Messi; I’m happy for football,” Ronaldo told reporters in Madrid ahead of his side’s last 16 second-leg clash with CSKA Moscow on Wednesday night.

    When asked if he thought he might equal Messi’s achievement, the former Manchester United player humbly replied: “I’m not sure if I’m capable of one day scoring five goals [in one game]. I hope I can.”

    Ronaldo went on to say that he is not concerned by people’s perception of him, and insisted that he is not solely motivated by the glory which comes with breaking goalscoring records.

    “I don’t know if I’m more respected here now, but that’s not what matters to me,” the 27-year-old explained. “I’m still the same person, with all my defects and virtues.”

    That said I’m still surprised at that bit of humility there…

    • Chiu
      March 14, 2012

      Really he said this? Nice words and appreciate it. I think it’s the first time EE player say something nice about Barca player since Mou coming.

      Dont worry, you are still the most handsome and the richest footballers in this planet, CR7. Your privilege to brag about it haha 🙂

  29. yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
    March 14, 2012

    Congrat’s Blitz, looking forward to your contribution to this wonderfull place.

  30. Chiu
    March 14, 2012

    Best wishes Blitz, hope you enjoy your new role here 🙂

  31. Dani_el
    March 14, 2012

    Congrats Blitzen! Looking forward to read your first post .)

  32. Jafri
    March 14, 2012

    You mean Blitzen wasn’t always a mod? Nooooooooo

    Glad you people have decided to promote her to her rightful place :p

    Congratulations and enjoy the first team action Blitz, and looking forward to seeing your fantastically phrased and wonderfully crafted articles! (Yes I’m piling it on a bit thick here. Raising you high upp. Can you feel the pressure? Can you? Can you?) Everyone’s expecting nothing less than perfection. Perfection, I say!

  33. K_legit in Oz
    March 14, 2012

    I saw the highlights of the Bayern Basel game and I hope we really get Bayern at some stage in the CL…there was a continuous scream over the PA each time a goal was scored and the scream on the PA would describe the time of goal, the score and the name of the scorer 3 times and I can tell you now I would love for Barcelona to go there and shut them up..let’s see if the ridiculous PA guy at the Allianz arena can summon the courage to tell the crowd to tell Messi’s name three times as he scores..

  34. Laurentiu88
    March 14, 2012

    Simply having professional referees is not a solution. Even as it is now, they do get a lot of theoretical training and usually come after years of refereeing games.

    The problem, as with any institution, is to design the right checks and balances. therefore, the issue is with the mechanisms that controls the referees: who is part of these commissions that have a role in grading referees, who promotes referees and so on. As an example, in Romania, where such vast network of influences have come to light, club owners influence on the refereeing was done through/with the influence of football officials.

    We tried too, the foreign referees option – in the key games, where club owners could not trust each other, – and it worked. Not in having a perfect game, even German referees make mistake, but it totally eliminated any suspicion of fraud. No player protested. No club official complained.

    Unfortunately football officials have a low level of accountability to the general public and for this reason we end up with this long dynasties. It is safe to assume that such players are able to concentrate high power and influence – prone to corrupt! What keeps such a system in check? Press?

  35. March 14, 2012

    Late to the party but CONGRATS BLITZ YOU MALE YOU! More Canada can only be a good thing for BFB.

  36. y2k156
    March 14, 2012

    Coming back to the interview of Ronaldo. Based on the actual quotes that i have read of him over last year or two, he does seem a very decent bloke. He also makes lot of ironical and satirical statements. Print media and fans being what they are, most of his statements are misused.

    I started with a platform where i did not like the guy at all. But i have changed my opinion about him. He seems a bit arrogant but considering his talent, it is quite natural. He seems to mostly speak sense and is not afraid to be vocal about his aims. And he is a great player, second among equals.

    The only guys i really don’t like in Madrid set up are Mourinho, Pepe and Ramos.

  37. just listenin
    March 14, 2012

    Nice post.

    One thing that I think is interesting is that there no longer seems to be any lack of agreement amongst people that there is at a minimum collaboration if not conspiracy between the press and that other team (and our press and our team for that matter). They are certainly working toward a common goal. The only thing that differentiates that from a conspiracy is that we assume they are doing it independently and opportunistically and didn’t get behind closed doors and agree to do it systematically and lie and manipulate in concert to achieve their common goal/wish (EE winning the Liga) and whether or not they had the power and influence to bring some refs into the mix. You start to see how one can get to a full blown coordinated effort. I can easily see how reasonable people get there. Again, hard to prove or disprove these things, which is what makes them so compelling. If there were a conspiracy, no one would admit it because that ruins it, and if there isn’t one there isn’t anyone to admit it anyway… this paradox is used to both prove and to refute conspiracies. What’s funny is that few people fall in the middle and say, I’m not sure what the heck is going on but it sure looks weird (which is how I feel). Most people seem to go to one end or the other of the “quick, hide, the paranoids are after me” and believing anyone who dares suggest nefarious means may be at play to manipulate our realities are “just silly” spectrum. It’s not comforting to be unsure for many. People seem to sleep better at night with certainty of one kind or the other.

    Lastly, one other thought… Ineptitude may not be a really good argument for the absence of conspiracy, in fact it can be a motivation. When goals can’t be reached by competency, and that situation becomes unbearable, it can provoke alternate means… Being bad at one thing doesn’t mean you can’t be good at something else.

    All said, I am in the institutional bias camp (which seems to have surged out of regime changes on a few different levels) which is only a agreement or plan or two away from the big C word… So all in all, it’s right that it doesn’t matter. I know for me, it’s interesting and doesn’t in any way take away from my enjoyment of the team. I’m comfortable walking and chewing gum. The whole thing is kind of fun and interesting.

  38. blitzen
    March 14, 2012

    Great article on ESPN from Graham Hunter today. Mostly concerning Messi. On the picture Puyol tweeted:

    However, proof that Messi not only does that, but is nuts enough to make a full-length, mid-air save of world-class caliber is something for which we have to thank Puyol and the remarkable photo he posted on Twitter. The still image doesn’t prove that Pep Guardiola was elsewhere, but I’m willing to bet that (a) he was; and (b) if he saw Messi hurtling through the air with his right arm fully extended, he would have called a halt to the practice. 😆

    And this on Messi’s lack of ego:

    Over the past week I have, for one reason or another, been in Messi’s presence three times for interviews and I can tell you that there isn’t a trace of hubris. No arrogance, no intense desire to grab the record and all the plaudits which go with it — not even a hint of self-satisfaction. One of the elements which may, eventually, elevate Messi to gold-medal position in the pantheon of all-time greats is his manner. For all the wealth, fame, acclaim and brouhaha which is quite naturally drawn to a sportsman of such excellence, he’s still simply doing the thing he enjoys most.

    And finally, on the refereeing controversy:

    However, the massive media furor does influence referees given that they are ordinary human beings and are as prone to consuming opinions as anyone else.

    If, as it seems to the objective eye, there has been a higher number of debatable decisions this season, then I’d be inclined to look first toward the hysterical and often biased media coverage for some explanation than to those who are crying conspiracy.

    Truth!

    http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/story/_/id/7683022/lionel-messi-magic-season-graham-hunter-la-liga

  39. providence
    March 15, 2012

    oooh! im sick by this abidal story

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