The Fifa blunders

It’s an elite panel that has been in existence for more than 40 years and its mandate is very simple ‘ to observe international tournaments and identify new trends in the game.

Since 1965 this group has been in existence and they have been analysing each and every Fifa World Cup finals since the one held in England in 1966.

“Its mandate consists largely of observing the teams in training and during matches,” said Fifa in a statement.

“The knowledge gathered is then discussed internally and evaluated.

“The identification of technical and tactical trends not only provides matter for debate, but also stimulates an exchange of views on the general development of international football.”

The group that is working in Germany is led by Holger Osieck who was his country’s assistant coach as the Germans powered to glory in 1990.

Given that this is a group of experts, you wouldn’t expect it to be involved in the kind of controversy that is now haunting the referees.

But that is precisely what is happening.

And it’s all centred on their choice of the man-of-the-match ‘ an award that is sponsored by American beer Budweiser.

Now, how can one explain their choice that Dwight Yorke was man-of-the-match when Trinidad and Tobago played Sweden in a group match?

While Yorke, the captain, did well in a new midfield role, it was clear to everyone that the best player on the field was goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.

The West Ham goalkeeper was the difference between Trinidad and Tobago escaping with a point and a defeat in a game in which the Swedes dominated.

Now and again Hislop was called upon to make a number of saves to keep his team in the game.

But when it ended in a goalless draw the Fifa expert at the match decided that Yorke had done better and gave him the man-of-the-match award.

Not surprisingly, the media in the Caribbean, celebrating a precious point for Trinidad and Tobago in their debut World Cup show, disagreed and gave the award to Hislop.

But one would understand if this was an isolated incident.

Let’s take the game between England and Ecuador in the second round.

Mid-way in the first half, English centreback John Terry made a mess of a long ball pumped into the area.

Instead of clearing it, the ball bounced off his head and it fell to a Ecadorian forward who found himself face-to-face with goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

But somehow the forward took his time and by the moment that he opened fire, Ashley Cole had come in for cover and his touch deflected the ball against the crossbar. Terry was all at sea during the first half and never improved his performance during the second as England rode on a David Beckham special free-kick to win the game.

Now what do we get from the Fifa experts?

John Terry is the man-of-the-match.

That was a shocker.

These are just prime examples of the way the Fifa experts have been a huge failure at this World Cup.

Not surprisingly the English media did not agree with the Fifa expert and instead gave the man-of-the-match award to Wayne Rooney.

And the frightening thing is that these men are not only there for choosing a man-of-the-match but to pool together reference material that could be used to improve the World Cup in the future.

Still, despite all these boobs, Fifa insists that its men know what they are doing in Germany.

“The TSG group at Fifa tournaments is made up of highly experienced football experts who have accumulated knowledge at the highest international level either as a current or former national coach or as former football players,” said Fifa in a statement.

“Besides the aforementioned duties, members also speak directly to national coaches to gather additional team-specific information.

“The resulting analyses are compiled in a report that is made available to the Fifa member associations for educational purposes, with DVDs produced for additional visual support.

“The combined material can assist coaches with the provision of stimulating training sessions on a day-to-day basis, with particular emphasis placed on improving playing standards and the continuous development of the individual player.

“The pure match analysis is complemented by debates on general problems facing football. One such discussion is the importance of national teams in the increasing globalisation of football.

“The major tournaments, in particular, demonstrate the fervour with which people identify with their national teams.”

At least the panel will not choose the Player of the Tournament.

“For the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany, the Fifa TSG is made up of 13 internationally-renowned coaches and former football stars and each of the 64 games will be observed by two TSG members.

“The TSG will also be responsible for the nominations for various awards such as the Budweiser Man of the Match and the Golden Shoe winner.”

July 2006
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