World Cup filled with surprises
The 2010 FIFA World Cup has given fans plenty to talk about, from the elimination of soccer greats Italy and France to the controversial calls by the referees. Either way, South Africa gave soccer aficionados an emotional roller coaster like no other.
Soccer’s biggest stage has seen its fair share of embarrassing moments throughout the years, but this year watching two soccer super powers, France and Italy, get knocked out in the first round set the tone.
“As far as the teams that were expected to do great, the French and the Italians, hands down, were the most embarrassing teams in the world cup.” Houston Dynamo’s defender Craig Waibel said. “I am not a fan of either team, but certainly no matter who you are, no matter who you cheer for, if you turn on the French and the Italians you expect to see at least a decent squad, (How they played) was absolutely horrid.”
With the early departure of Les Bleus and Squadra Azzurra, other teams were able to shine and show their talents; teams like Ghana, Uruguay and the Dutch were, by far, the biggest surprises.
Waibel also said the USA team was able to shine and overcome many obstacles. 2010 marked the first time since 1930 that the Americans won their group.
“It was really interesting to me the expectations that everyone had, including myself, on the USA team in particular,” Waibel said. “I don’t think they played as poorly as everyone maybe had the perception.”
Some of that growth and support for the national team came in part to the exposure the USA team received in news channels around the country during the Slovenia game before USA was robbed of the winning goal by Maurice Edu in the 85th minute.
“Exposure is a great educator,” Waibel said. “People don’t go out of their way to look for entertainment.”
Waibel said the poor officiating in the Slovenia and Algeria game made the USA team more resilient and showed the world the American spirit.
“A lot of people were disappointed,” he said. “(But) we have to give those guys more credit. The Algerian game showed how the American team defined the odds. We had a chip on our shoulder.”
Waibel hopes the growth in support for USA soccer doesn’t die down now that the World Cup is over, but continues to raise money.
In the quarterfinal game between Uruguay and Ghana, Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez stopped a ball from going in the goal with his hands, which would later stop the African nation from moving on the semifinals.
Waibel, like many other soccer experts, said Suarez’s actions were instinctive and he did not cheat.
“(What he did) is the best ever worst thing for soccer,” Waibel said. “He literally saved his country from elimination. He did what he had to do to win. Nobody thought (Gyan) was going to miss the penalty.”
A lot has been made of officiating this World Cup. In the final game alone 14 cards were given, breaking the record of six set in 1986. With more than 100 yellow cards given in total for the tournament, it is safe to say the officiating left a lot to be desired.
This World Cup fans also saw several missed calls when it came to goals and offsides.
“I think the officiating has provided many reasons and different topics for discussion,” Waibel said. “For the world cup being the biggest stage in soccer it is disappointing that this World Cup has had so many poor moments of officiating.”
Because of the poor officiating, fans are asking FIFA to reconsider its decision to keep technology from being used in the game.
Waibel said technology should only be used in soccer if it is to decide a goal, not to determine if a player should be called offside or not.
“Technology in the ball and goalpost is a good idea, but other than that I don’t think technology should ever be involved in soccer.”