Matthew Monk is a school teacher
from the UK who has the World Cup as one of his greatest passions. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
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The Boys from Brazil
Ask yourself a question: when do you think the World
Cup starts for real? The opening game? The start of
the knock out phase? The final itself? Or when
Brazil play their first match?
For many people, the World Cup does not truly begin
until that team in gold and green make their debut,
and regardless of what or who has gone before them,
the expectation and hype surrounding Brazil
overshadows everything. Today was no different. And
if you agree with this answer, then read no further -
you are not likely to like what you see.
This is not an outstanding, unbeatable Brazilian team
- far from it, the stumbling path they picked through
the South American qualifiers gave hope to many
potential opponents this summer. And after watching
Brazil struggle to defeat Turkey today, the coaches of
France, Argentina, Italy, Portugal and Spain will be
rubbing their hands with glee.
Brazil have played worse at the World Cup than they
did today - Claudio Coutinho's 1978 version barely
survived against Spain and Austria - but rarely has a
Brazil team looked less likely to do well at the
Brazil never managed to dominate the game, as they
would have done so many times in the past. Turkey are
a good, tough side, and were deserved quarter
finalists in the last European Championship, but they
are hardly earth-shattering opposition. Yet they
easily matched Brazil for long periods, and belittled
the odds makers who were offering 6 to 1 for them to
win. What we were seeing again was the media's love
affair with anything dressed in gold and green, a love
affair that ignores hard fact and glorifies the
current team based on what last happened sixteen years
1986 was when a truly outstanding Brazilian team last
played a game in the World Cup, and though good form
was shown in 1990, 1994 and 1998 the form of Socrates,
Careca and Josimar has not been reproduced for a long
Now before I get rambling emails from disgruntled
Brazilian fans, I do not hate Brazil, nor do I believe
that Bebeto, Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Roberto
Carlos are poor players. Far from it, they are some
of the most gifted footballers the world has seen in
the last 10 years. Similarly the heights reached by
Pelé's 1970 or Socrates' 1982 team have rarely been
equalled, never mind surpassed. But that cannot mean
that this current squad is beyond criticism.
But when I set out to write this column I simply meant
to focus on what I perceived to be the deficiencies of
the squad; I was annoyed by the usual obsession with
Brazil ignoring all other teams, but so what, that was
hardly unusual was it?
But while I watching the game today - and when I
visited the official FIFA website after the game - I
became exasperated by the totally predisposed
coverage, in particular the way Rivaldo's shameful
playacting has been ignored. FIFA named him Man of
the Match - seemingly for scoring a penalty - and did
not even mention his insidious actions.
Before the tournament began FIFA made a big play of
cracking down on cheating, highlighting a directive
for referees to give yellow cards for shirt pulling,
diving, playacting and ungentlemanly conduct. Rivaldo
managed to both dive and playact when Hakan Unsal
kicked the ball at him right at the end of the game.
Watch the incident for yourself. The ball clearly
strikes Rivaldo: squarely on the knee. He goes down
in agony, clutching his face and head, as if he had
been struck by something thrown from the crowd. The
referee - the utterly inept Kim Young Joo of Korea -
was unsighted, he had to have been, for why else would
he have let Rivaldo get away with this cheating?
Hakan Unsal is stupid for doing such a daft thing, for
letting his temper take control of him, but what he
did warranted a yellow card at most. Now this would
have still meant his expulsion - he had been cautioned
midway through the first half - but a good referee
would have taken that into consideration before he
acted. Mr Kim did no such thing. He marched up to
Unsal and sent him off. He did not show him a second
yellow card, although the official FIFA match report
says this is the reason he was sent from the field.
That in itself shows ineptitude, but when you add it
to Kim's failure to take action against Rivaldo, and
his prior failures you get a very sorry picture.
And why did Unsal do such a heinous thing in the first
place? He was angry, he was livid, irate. Why?
Because Brazil had just been awarded a penalty for an
incident that clearly took place outside the box.
There was no need for controversy here. Luizao was
fouled crudely by Alpay, and as he was arguably the
last man a sending off was justified. But it was no
penalty. Unless you were Mr Kim. The free kick
should have been taken from two or three metres
outside the box, and who knows what would have
happened? Given the awful free kicks from Roberto
Carlos and Ronaldinho Gaucho earlier in the game, and
the excellent form of Rustu in the Turkish goal, it is
conceivable that Turkey would have one point right
know, as would Brazil. Instead Rivaldo scored the
penalty - just - that won them the game.
Perhaps on the overall 90 minutes Brazil had been
slightly better, and had Alpay not brought down
Luizao, and a goal been scored, few people would have
complained. I certainly would not have. But after
such unfairness I find it impossible to do anything
but concur with Senol Gunes, who said "We wanted three
points, but couldn't get them for reasons I won't
mention. We came here with great pride and we leave
with great pride… We produced a great effort but we
couldn't get the result we deserved. There is an
injustice about the result. I have to say that, an
Strong words, but honest words as well. This was an
injustice, perpetrated by Kim Young Joo, and then
compounded by the insidious actions of Rivaldo, and
the complicity of Kim.
Two things stick in my mind here. First, Rivaldo is a
cheat. He agrees. This is what he said after the
game, reported by the BBC for all to see: "Obviously I
exaggerated the incident for the guy to be sent off.
The ball hit my hand and my leg. It didn't hit me in
the face but that kind of attitude must not be allowed
on the pitch. He deserved a red card."
You can make up your own mind about his very
questionable morals, but that kind of attitude needs
to driven out of football. Rivaldo has openly
admitted to taking a dive, to cheating. He is guilty
of that and of ungentlemanly conduct. If anyone
deserved a red card it was him. Rivaldo is a lucky
man. Alpay was incensed and went to 'talk' to
Rivaldo. Roque Junior put his huge frame in front of
the Turk, and Alpay sized up the situation and turned
away. But he should not be so lucky after the
disciplinary committee have finished with him.
Rivaldo should be suspended for his cheating, not just
fined. But neither of these will happen.
I said two things stuck in my mind. The second was
the start of the game. The two teams are presented to
Sepp Blatter. Nothing unusual in that you say? Well
France and Senegal were not presented to a single
dignitary before the opening match, and I cannot
remember Sepp going down to meet and greet a single
player before any game so far, nor before the last
World Cup final. But it is not this that is strange.
What is bothering me is the way he embraced Ronaldo,
Rivaldo, Ronaldinho Gaucho, Roberto Carlos and the
others so warmly. He kissed several of them on their
cheeks, and laughed and joked with the others like a
long lost uncle at a meaningless friendly. This was a
competitive World Cup match, which was more than
likely to decide which team won Group C. Blatter made
no secret of who he - the supposedly impartial FIFA
President - was supporting. Now here is the bit that
proves I am paranoid.
Mr Kim is not exactly the perfect choice for such a
high profile World Cup match. He has been refereeing
international matches since 1994, but this is his
first World Cup finals game. Before this, the biggest
game he has ever been in charge of was the massive
Confederations Cup clash between the superpowers of
the USA and Mexico. Impressive CV eh? That is
supposed to be ironic, by the way.
And this was the 'experienced' whistle blower put in
charge of a vital, decisive finals match. Who is in
charge of selecting which referee takes charge of
which game? The referees committee of FIFA. Who is
in charge of that? Who else but the man in charge of
FIFA, and the man who hugged and embraced Ronaldo and
his friends before the game: Sepp.
Lets not start any conspiracy theories here. I am not
suggesting for a minute that Sepp instructed the
hapless Mr Kim to give a non-existent penalty, send
off Alpay and ignore Rivaldo's cheating. I will leave
that to all the crazies on the forums. No, what I am
suggesting is that Sepp and his cronies gave control
of this vital match to Kim because he is from Korea.
And as Brazil always garner huge TV audiences that
would give additional exposure to the Korean FA
(co-hosts of the tournament) and show off how 'good'
they are, through their representative. Ignore the
fact that Kim has never refereed a big match before,
or that he was not a good official - Korea need to be
represented and looked after. Expect Japan to get
similar treatment soon. But just hope their referee
is better that Mr Kim.
Still, while I have your attention, we may as well
face a few facts. It would not be beyond FIFA to make
qualification as easy for Brazil as they can. Brazil
makes a lot of money for FIFA and they supply TV
audiences that no other nation - not even France or
England - can bring in for non-knock out games. This
brings in even more money, more advertising revenue,
sells a few hundred thousand more bottles of Coca-Cola
and makes Sepp very happy. It is in FIFA's interest
to see Brazil do well. Why else do they get the easy
groups? Why else was Ronaldo allowed to play in the
1998 final after his name was left off the official
team list handed in to the referee? And why else will
the con artist, the swindler Rivaldo, get away with
his cheating? Because Brazil is more important than
Turkey, and they get special treatment from FIFA.
Just imagine for a second that Maradona or Zidane had
come out after a game and said that he had blatantly
cheated. He would have been suspended faster than Big
Joâo could fix an election. There is one rule for
Brazil and separate rules for everyone else.
It is not fair. It is an injustice. Turkey were
robbed. We were robbed.
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