Archive for June, 2010

Refereeing Howlers at FIFA World Cup

Controversy reigned in this FIFA World Cup in South Africa as refereeing howlers has renewed calls by football fans to introduce video technology to assist referees and review their decisions. This World Cup has seen so many refereeing bloopers, here is the list:

Argentina 3, Mexico 1: In this second-round game, the opener goal in the 26th minute by Argentina striker Carlos Tevez was yards offside. After the replay flashed up on the big screen angry Mexico players surrounded the Italian referee Roberto Rosetti and linesman Stefano Ayroldi but the goal stood despite the protest.

Germany 4, England 1: In the 38th minute of the second-round game, with England behind 2-1, Lampard sent a shot off the crossbar. The ball came straight down at least a foot inside the goal line, but referee Jorge Larrionda waved play to continue. Television replays confirmed the ball was in the net.

United States 2, Slovenia 2: In this Group C game moments after the Americans tied the score in the first round, Landon Donovan took a free kick from the side of the penalty area in the 85th minute as players jostled in front. Maurice Edu spun away from Bojan Jokic and, one step into the 6-yard box, stuck out his left foot and put the ball in. But referee Koman Coulibaly had whistled play dead for a foul. He never explained who on the U.S. team did what.

United States 1, Algeria 0: In the final Group C game, Clint Dempsey scored in the 21st minute off the rebound of Herculez Gomez’s shot. But the goal was called offside by the Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere. Again, replays indicated Dempsey was in a fair position.

Mexico 2, France 0: In a first-round Group A match, Javier Hernandez ran onto Rafael Marquez’s pass as the France defense stopped, believing Hernandez was offside. He dribbled around goalkeeper Hugo Lloris before guiding the ball home to give Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 64th minute. Television replays showed that Hernandez was in an offside position.

Brazil 3, Ivory Coast 1: In this Group G match Brazil striker Luis Fabiano handled the ball twice as he juggled it past two Ivory Coast defenders before scoring for a 2-0 lead in a 3-1 group win that secured advancement for the Brazilians. The referee later came over and patted his own upper right arm.

Slovakia 3, Italy 2: In this Group F match Fabio Quagliarella thought he scored a late equalizer for Italy — the loss eliminated the defending champions in the group stage — but he was ruled offside by the smallest of margins, a ruling that was disputed by the Italians and appeared to be an error on replays.

Ghana 1, Australia 1: In this Group D match Aussie forward Harry Kewell was sent off in the 24th minute after blocking a goal-bound shot with his upper arm. The arm was pinned against his body, but Swiss referee Roberto Rosetti showed Kewell the red card in the first-round match.

In 1986 World Cup Maradona was coyly evasive and cheeky to describe the handling of the ball in the crucial match against England as “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” Maradona later said, “I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came… I told them, ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it.’  English felt that they had been cheated out of a possible World Cup victory and the angry British press later coined the phrase “Hand of God”.

Even in this World Cup play off against Ireland, in Paris, last month, saw France striker Thierry Henry’s handling the ball in the buildup to France’s crucial goal that saw the French secure their place in the finals in South Africa. But refereeing bloopers have come to all time high, this 2010 World Cup Final.

Wake up FIFA.

Photo: Courtesy Getty Images

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Demise of D.E.M. O’Cracy – Emergency

George FernandesAt the stroke of the midnight hour of 14-15 August, 1947, when the world slept, India awoke to life and freedom. Making this historic announcement, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, dared the people and their leaders: “Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?”

And, at the midnight hour of 25-26 June, 1975, when India slept, his own daughter, Prime Minister Indira Priyadarshini, responded in kind by choking life and extinguishing freedom from this vast subcontinent. President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, upon advice by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, declared a state of emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution of India, effectively bestowing on her the power to rule by decree, suspending elections and civil liberties. Her cabinet ratified the ordinance only the next morning.

According to historian Ramachandra Guha’s book  India after Indira, 12 June, 1975, was an awful day for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She awoke to be told that one of her key aides had died. Then she got word that her Congress Party was trailing badly in the state elections in Gujarat. And to top it all that morning Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court the upheld accusations made by Raj Narain, stripped her of her Lok Sabha seat after holding her guilty of misusing government facilities in the 1971 General Elections and also disqualified her from running in the Lok Sabha elections for next 6 years.

For more than a year the Prime Minister has been besieged by a nation wide movement against her led by her father’s old friend, the veteran Gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly known as JP, who came out from retirement and lead the sampoorna kranti or Total Revolution movement.On 25th June 1975, a massive rally was held at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, attended by all major opposition leaders led by JP. Fiery trade union leader, George Fernandes succeeded in organizing a 3 week long railway strike, something unthinkable till then, adding to the troubles from runaway inflation coupled with a food shortage (At its peak, inflation touched 33 percentage). The Indian economy was buckling under a set of other cumulative strains caused by recurrent failure of monsoons, Bangladesh refugee crisis and war with Pakistan, the ensuing termination of aid by the United States, and the international oil crisis following the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. The oil stocks had made a deep dent in the Indian economy and we were rapidly sliding into a balance of payments crisis.

Siddharth Sankar Ray, the then West Bengal Chief Minister, proposed to Indira the imposition of “internal emergency”. He drafted a letter for the President to issue the proclamation on the basis of information Indira Gandhi had received that “there is an imminent danger to the security of India being threatened by internal disturbances”. He showed how democratic freedom could be suspended while remaining within the ambit of the Constitution. Buying into this argument President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed put his signature to the order on promulgation of Emergency that fateful intervening night of 25-26 June, 1975.

These momentous events – 35 years ago this month and the 21 months (25 June, 1975 – 21 March, 1977) that followed, was the darkest period of Indian history. In effect India became a dictatorship. The press was muzzled, civil rights were abolished and tens of thousands of political activists were arrested. According to Amnesty International, 140,000 people had been arrested without trial during the Emergency. Prominent protest leaders like JP, Morarji Desai, Raj Narain, Vijayaraje Scindia, George Fernandes, Lawrence Fernandes, Michael Fernandes, Charan Singh, Biju Patnaik, Chaudhary Devi Lal, Madhu Dandavate, Pramila Dandavate, Jyothi Basu, J. B. Kripalani, Jivatram Kripalani, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L. K. Advani, Ramakrishna Hegde, Deva Gowda, Chandra Shekar, P.G.R. Sindhia, J. H. Patil, Ramesh Bandagadde, S Venkatram, C.G.K. Reddy, M.S. Apparao, M.P. Veerendra Kumar, Mohan Dharia, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Nitish Kumar, Karunanidhi, T R Baalu, M. K. Stalin, and others were put behind bars.

Hindu

Many political workers who were not arrested in the first wave, went ‘underground’ continuing organizing protests. While the who is who in the opposition movement from the RSS to the Communists were incarcerated. The only exception was CPI that had extended support to Indira’s emergency.

Interestingly the judiciary, which was accused of the tendency to override the executive in the judiciary–executive battle in the landmark Kesavananda Bharati case, under Chief Justice A. N. Ray, remained a mute spectator the throttling of democracy. Chief Justice A. N. Ray was appointed earlier by Indira Gandhi superseding three more senior Judges – J. M. Shelat, K. S. Hegde and A. N. Grover, who had expressed dissent in the case.

Then there was bold Justice H. R. Khanna, chose to fogo his Chief Justiceship of the Supreme Court rather than undermine judicially the concept of fundamental rights in the famous Habeas Corpus judgement. In an atmosphere where a large number of people had been detained without trial under the repressive Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), several high courts had given relief to the detainees by accepting their right to habeas corpus as stated in Article 21 of the Indian constitution.

The bench comprising the five seniormost judges was convened to hear the case and they in April 1976 opined, with the majority deciding against habeas corpus. Through their decision Justices A. N. Ray, P. N. Bhagwati, Y. V. Chandrachud, and M.H. Beg, permitted unrestricted powers of detention during emergency.

But Justice Khanna resisted the pressure to concur with this majority view. He wrote in his dissenting opinion: “The Constitution and the laws of India do not permit life and liberty to be at the mercy of the absolute power of the Executive… What is at stake is the rule of law. The question is whether the law speaking through the authority of the court shall be absolutely silenced and rendered mute… detention without trial is an anathema to all those who love personal liberty”.  Because of this dessenting note Justice Khanna  was superseded for the post of Chief Justice of India by Indira Gandhi, despite being the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court.

Emergency also marked both high and low of press freedom and a turning point. While most newspapers scraped and grovelled to accommodate the State during Emergency in an iconic tale of defiance, The Indian Express got away with this message in its obituary column “ O’ Cracy: D.E.M. O’Cracy, bellowed husband of T. Ruth, father of L. I. Berty, father of Faith, Hope and Justice on June 25”.

This ingenious yet sly advertisement designed to escape the censor’s eyes had originally appeared in a Sri Lankan newspaper when emergency was declared in the island country. Another neighbour, Pakistan, who went through birth pangs along with India, had by 1975, had the second coup and was ruled by General Zia-ul Haq then. (And third by General Pervez Musharaff was in 1999).  But unlike its neighbors and the other developing world countries, India was a nation, ill at ease, with Emergency.

It is a comment of sorts on the Emergency and the triumph of D.E.M. O’Cracy and L. I. Berty that Indira Gandhi suffered a humiliating defeat in the 1977 General Election. All the tall leaders of Congress including Indira and S. S. Ray were punished by the electorate. But due to the infighting and miss governance by the Janata Party Government Indira came back to power, spectacularly in 30 months flat although in Vajpayee’s words, ‘she had been consigned to the dustbin of history’.

But, today, the views towards Emergency has undergone a massive change, as shown in the discussions in the ‘neo liberal’ media on the 35th anniversary of declaration of Emergency and the 25th Death anniversary of Indira Gandhi on 31 October last year. A very important reason for this that more than half India’s population is born after 1975. This generation knows little about the Emergency and cares even less. But then the most reassuring point about the Emergency is that it cannot be repeated. We have established huge Constitutional safeguards and the configuration of political forces in India also has hugely changed.

The material fact is that if Indira Gandhi’s Emergency proved anything at all, it established that India would be governed, to the extent it can be governed, democratically or not at all.

Photo Courtesy: Rediff

(While searching for a image for the article realised that there is no enduring image of Emergency except George Fernandes in shackles)

Domenech’s Wagging Finger

Last Sunday I got a text message on my mobile “Latest from FIFA 2010: On Monday, Portugal meet Korea in Cape Town. On Tuesday, Spain meet Italy in Johannesburg and on Wednesday, England meet France at the Airport”.

I really felt it was cruel joke, but the last week showed how increasingly unpredictable this year’s edition of FIFA World Cup has been, with so many upsets at the tournament. With a 1-0 win against Slovenia, Fabio Capello’s England, however, scraped through to the second round.

But this week saw for the first time both finalists of a preceding World Cup failing to enter the last 16. Italy the defending champions of 2006 edition bowed out of the competition after their 3-2 loss to first–timers, Slovakia. With only 2 points against their name and no wins in their group games, Italy lost in the first round only for the fourth time in the history of World Cup.

However exit of France, the 1998 World Cup Winner and 2006 World Cup Runner Up, was a mutinous disgrace.  After the crushing 2-1 defeat against hosts South Africa, France coach Raymond Domenech said he felt a “genuine sense of sadness” about his teams exist. But Domenech’s refusal to shake the hand of South Africa coach after the game was un-befitting of a coach and has brought the unpopular coach’s six-year reign to a suitably contentious end.

The 58-year-old Domenech, never popular with players or fans since taking over in 2004, has left his job with his reputation at the lowest. (Laurent Blanc was named Domenech’s successor before the tournament even started.) The coach who oversaw the French campaign to the final of the 2006 World Cup also oversaw a catastrophic end to this years campaign, which saw star striker Nicolas Anelka sent home in disgrace after a foul-mouthed triad against him, followed by a players’ strike over the expulsion and finally team’s sponsors abandoning them.

On Tuesday, once the final whistle blew, when South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira began the customary ritual of shaking hands with those around him, offered his hand and a smile, Domenech shook his finger at him and tried to walk away.

But post match, the colourful yet controversial coach refused to discuss the incident. He said despite the rancour in the camp over the past week he had greeted his players, at the end of the match. He praised the players for their efforts. He said no player had refused to play though he made several changes, including dropping Captain Patrick Viera to the bench in  the crucial match.

The Manchester United defender had been at the center of drama last Sunday, when the squad refused to train at their base in Knysna to protest against the expulsion of Chelsea’s Nicolas Anelka.

Video : Courtesy YouTube