Print Story ATTENTION Aggrieved USian Infidels
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By yicky yacky (Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 05:51:47 AM EST) World Cup, football, footie, USA, Slovenia, monkeys (all tags)

Why you weren't actually robbed in the USA vs Slovenia game.

[But maybe you were, but maybe you weren't, …, etc.]



I slept fairly fitfully last night. As much as it may be tempting to blame the shoddy England performance, I suspect it actually had more to do with the salmon.

During one period of intermittent insomnia, I had another look at yon "Edu scored! No he didn't! What was wrong?! Cheating bloody referee!" incident.

At the time I, like … oh, 99.9% … of global pundits thought that the goal shouldn't have been disallowed and, if anything, it was Slovenia who ought to have been penalized (the other 0.1% were in the bathroom).

After watching it a few more times than might strictly be deemed necessary, I've changed my mind. I still think that the USA team was "a little hard done-by, perhaps", but robbed? No.

In fact, what had seemed an incident testifying to the referee's blindness actually testifies quite the opposite: It was a bloody good piece of eagle-eyed vision in the midst of all that chaos. I won't tell you how many times I watched the replay from different angles before I spotted it, but it was plenty, and he only had one shot, in real-time.

I'll walk you through it.

 

-=+=-

 

The following seven frames were taken at the rate of one-per-second, covering a total period of six seconds of slow motion footage.

The camera angle is by far the best one to see it from — in fact, from others, you can't see it at all — and, trust me, it looks even more damning in free-running video form than the stills here show, provided you know what you're looking for and don't get distracted by the ball.

For UKian users, the segment runs between 9:48 and 9:54 of the BBC's 'extended highlights' stream, available at the BBC sport website.

 

-=+=-

 

Frame 1

This is the 'establishing shot'.

The camera angle is fairly low and looking directly across the pitch, shooting roughly parallel with the goal-line. The goal is directly to the right of the frame, and the ball is being whipped-in from a free-kick by Landon Donovan from out-of-shot bottom-left, where everyone is looking. You can see the penalty spot between the legs of the Slovenia number 11 (Novakovic).

The 'goal' scorer, Edu (USA number 19), hasn't entered the shot yet.

What you really should be paying attention to is the USA number 3 (Bocanegra) and the Slovenia number 7 (Pecnik). I've outlined them in the following version of the same frame.

I can't be bothered outlining all the frames, so I'll use magenta dot(s) to denote Bocanegra-Pecnik and cyan dots to denote Edu, when he shows up.

 

-=+=-

 

Frame 2

Not much to say here, except that it's a progression from the previous frame. Pecnik has his hands on Bocanegra, but he's not really holding him fast.

 

-=+=-

 

Frame 3

Edu enters shot in the top-left of frame, underneath the BBC logo. Bocanegra and Pecnik are scuffling in the middle of shot, behind Bradley and a couple of Slovenians.

 

-=+=-

 

Frame 4

Bocanegra and Pecnik are scuffling in the centre-left of shot. Edu runs in to the space behind them. Bocanegra has his arm around Pecnik's waist.

 

-=+=-

 

Frame 5

This is actually the crucial frame, but you wouldn't know it to look at it. At this point the ball is in the air. Edu is directly behind Bocanegra-Pecnik as the ball flies, running into the space that only exists because Bocanegra has firmly clamped Pecnik to the spot, preventing him from attempting to head clear the delivery.

In fact …

 

-=+=-

 

Frame 6

… Bocanegra has rugby-tackled Pecnik and is pulling him to the ground. It looks milder in this frame than it really is, because Pecnik is actually half-way pulled-over away from the camera and not standing tall as it seems in the still shot. Edu is right in the space which Pecnik should be guarding, but can't.

The ball has entered the shot, where Pecnik is looking, just below the BBC 'scores' logo.

 

-=+=-

 

Frame 7

Pecnik has been tackled nearly to the ground at this point and can do nothing but look back to see Edu kick the ball.

Sorry, Americans; but that's a cast-iron foul, and that's why the referee disallowed the goal. Blame your captain.

 

-=+=-

 

Mitigation

In fairness, there's a lot of mitigation.

If you look at the different frames, there's a lot of holding and scuffling going on. I counted something like five incidents of Slovenians impeding Americans and only the one incident of an American impeding a Slovenian. In particular, bald Bradley's got a Slovenian climbing all over him.

In that chaos, the referee could just as likely have played an advantage (letting the goal stand) or given a penalty to the USA as give a free kick to Slovenia.

On the other hand, most of the other incidents are 'niggling' in a temporary sort of way. It's only Bocanegra that actually drags his opponent (Pecnik) to ground. The only other person who really ends up on the floor is the Slovenian number 13 (Jokic) who chased Edu through the pack and makes a last desperate lunge to stop the shot.

 

Is it unlucky for the USA?

Yes, it's very unlucky but, importantly, it's also a legitimate call. In my judgement, it moves the incident from a grievous injustice to more of a 50/50 thing.

And those 50/50 foul-incidents suck. Just ask John Terry about '04 or Alan Shearer about '98.

Both fouls, by the way.

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ATTENTION Aggrieved USian Infidels | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Nice analysis (nt) by codemonkey uk (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 07:07:03 AM EST


--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.


Back...and to the left....back...and to the left by jayhawk88 (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 08:36:21 AM EST
I find it amusing that, of all things, it might end up being a bad call that gets more people in America involved in soccer. For all our faults, which are legion, nothing gets us going more than something that is "unfair", especially when we're on the short end.

It's good work and something I've not seen before, but some questions:

Eh, just arguing for the sake of arguing. I don't really think this was anything more than a bad call by a bad ref (commentary I had been reading on the game up until that time had made multiple mentions of the ref being bad). Be interesting to see what happens in the US's final game and if they make it past the pool round. Like I say, few things get us more ramped up than the idea that we're getting jobbed in a sporting event.



(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 11:13:20 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth



[ Parent ]

how's your broadcast voice? by clover kicker (4.00 / 2) #3 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 08:40:52 AM EST
Make a video, slap in on youtube, get your 15 minutes of fame.



I don't know by ks1178 (4.00 / 2) #4 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 10:30:55 AM EST
It looks more to me like the Slovenian has the American in a headlock, yanking his head down, which in turn brought the Slovenian down because the American grabbed the Slovenians waste for support.



fitting the data to the call by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #6 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 01:07:56 PM EST
Legit? Nah, arbitrary.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman


*speechless!* by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #7 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 01:58:06 PM EST
Excellent analysis and research, Sir! 

VS2FP.




(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #8 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 05:11:16 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky





General response. by yicky yacky (4.00 / 2) #9 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 05:22:28 PM EST

I'm not trying to "prove a case" with this diary. I don't give a monkey's whether you "buy it" or not.

I'm trying to show you what to look for the next time you see the actual video footage so that you can educate yourselves.

Whether you like it or not, it is a foul. It's actually more like "they're getting in each other's way and then Bocanegra hip-flips Pecnik".

I think the fact that it uniquely goes against the flow of the general motion, ends up with people (particularly Bocanegra; Pecnik slips his grasp and isn't down for long) on the floor, and is directly in the affected area is probably what made it stand out to the referee to begin with, rather than other all the grappling 'fouls' taking place around it.

If you know what you're looking for, and then see it again from the angle looking down the pitch at the goal, you'll see that the referee is looking straight down the 'channel' where the Bocanegra-Pecnik tussle is taking place when he blows his whistle (this actually happens before the goal goes in). He then points straight at Bocanegra.

You'll notice that few (if any) of the non-North-American football fans have contested this diary, despite them being some of the most obstreperous and contrarian bastards on this site, particularly when it comes to football. That's because the rest of us have seen goals disallowed for far less. It's possible, also, that some of them have access to the BBC feed in question and have checked it for themselves.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.


Oh, and for the record ... by yicky yacky (4.00 / 2) #10 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 05:34:02 PM EST

I'd have let the goal stand. There seemed to be more impeding by Slovenians than Americans.

The point here is simply that the referee wasn't pulling an objection out of his backside.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]

The same BS happens in American sports by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #12 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 08:01:24 PM EST
Although I think footie has more incidents of the refs "inserting" themselves into the game than any other. Pro basketball is the only north American sport that comes close. Baseball gets called pretty well, IMO. American football has a lot of fuck-ups but that is due to the refs not being able to keep up with speed of the game and the (necessary) tightness of the rulebook.

it is a foul

In the context of the broader play this is irrelevant. We've gone from ultra epic fail to epic fail - big deal.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

Well, by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #13 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 08:09:57 PM EST

with the american fans doing a pretty good impression of the english when Sol Campbell got his goal disallowed because of Shearer's elbow, I guess it's actually true ...

The US has reached proper footballing nation status.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]

BAD NEWS FOR SLOVENES! by ammoniacal (4.00 / 2) #11 Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 06:45:30 PM EST

You can't handle my complete attention.


ATTENTION Aggrieved USian Infidels | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback