FIFA World Cup 2010

previous years:


Since this is probably the last big tournament covered on FairFootball, at least for the time being, I'm going to do it a little differently. It will be a somewhat lite version, the focus will be on the games of Spain (the winners) and Brazil, who were wrongly sent out in the QFs by Holland. It won't give a complete FF ranking of the first 8, but just of the first 2; given the circumstances, it looks like it's enough. Also, I'm going to bend the rules a little, specifically be a little liberal when, following the result correction, a draw is obtained thus overtime / PKs should be played. According to the scheme, the team that officially looses wins on FF, for a just compensation. However, there are cases in which it makes more sense that it's done the other way, that is the official winner advances on FF also. There is such a case in this tournament, so I'm going to do it like this and explain it there.
For the same reasons explained at the 2006 tournament, everything starts with the quarter-finals.

However, we will briefly list here the most notable referee mistakes of the group stage and the first knock-out round.
Not much to report from the group phase, from what I know, I haven't watched all games so I might have missed a few things. Spain were denied a PK against Switzerland, which made them loose the game, their only defeat in the tournament. Fortunately they were able to turn things around and still win their group. Then again, Spain missed so many PKs in this Cup that their win had the ref called it is far from certain.
In the round of 16, there were the 2 unbelievable blunders that happened on the same day, which must be the most horrible day for ref decisions in the history of the World Cup. First, in Germany vs. England, Lampard was canceled a goal whereby the ball clearly and obviously passed the goal line, by something like half a meter. Absolutely nobody denies this was a valid goal; but the ref didn't realize it so it wasn't granted. Germany went on to win the game 4 - 1, and by the way it was played it's hard to think letting the goal stand would have made a difference; but there's no way to know for sure, after all it meant 2 - 1 for Germany at half time instead of 2 - 2, the game might have unfolded differently.
In the other game of the day, Tevez scored the first goal for Argentina against Mexico from a monumental offside. When the ball was passed to him, he was not the second last, but the absolute last player on the field, since the mexican keeper had come out of his goal before and Tevez had run way behind him. The best thing was, there was a big monitor in the stadium that showed the replay almost instantly (by some official mistake, as it was claimed), so everybody, including all the players, the central ref Rosetti and the assistant in question, could see it all. This is probably one of the most interesting and at the same time embarrassing moments in the history of refereeing, and not just in football. After a few minutes of extremely heated debates, Rosetti decided to comply to FIFA's aberrant rules and let the goal stand. Poor fellow, it almost makes me hurt thinking what he went through. It didn't help him much, since immediately after this he was predictably sent home for the rest of the tournament, and a day or 2 after that he announced he's ended his carreer as a ref. Anyway, in this case it likely did matter, since before the goal Mexico clearly had the upper hand, they might very well have been the winners. As it was, Argentina won it 3 - 1.


Key games


QF: Brazil - Holland 3 - 2, officially 1 - 2

Brazil should have had 2 penalties, De Jong on Kaka min. ~25 and Ooijer on Kaka again, min. ~60. Especially the first one clear as daylight.

As a result, Brazil advances in the semi on FF instead of Holland.


SF: Brazil (officially Holland) - Uruguay 3 - 3, officially 3 - 2

The second dutch goal was scored from a clear, although close and a bit debatable, offside. It was close but not close enough to be ignored, at least 10 inches and the 2 players in question were very near to one another. As for the debatable part, Van Persie, the dutch player who committed it, didn't touch the ball but jumped over it. Thus, his leg (the very same leg that was offside) made a move that deceived the keeper that he would try to shoot / deflect the ball. So according to the book it was an offside.

Therefore, according to the rules, normally Uruguay should advance. However, since in the quarters Brazil won on FF against Holland, while Uruguay only drew with them, I'll bend the rule, as I said, and let Brazil go to the final. Especially since, as noted, the offside was a bit debatable.


Spain's games


QF: Spain - Paraguay 2 - 0, officially 1 - 0

There should have been another penalty for Spain right after the one they missed, the paraguayan keeper clearly fouled Fabregas.


SF: Spain - Germany 3 - 0, officially 1 - 0

2 missed penalties for Spain, one for a foul on Ramos around min. 60, the other one for a trip on Pedro around min. 80. (But it must be noted that Pedro was alone with Torres against one german defender, the one who fouled him, plus the keeper; had he passed the ball to Torres it would have been a goal 99%.)
Anyway, it has to be said that the officiating wasn't so one-sided as it may seem. Germany should have had a dangerous foul near the edge of the box at the end of the first half, and most importantly, Ramos should have been sent off for DOGSO. The game might have unfolded differently after that. Added to this was the wrong yellow card received by Muller in the quarter against Argentina, which meant he couldn't play in this game against Spain. All considered, Spain's victory is deserved, and probably a little closer than it should have been.


Final, July 11, 2010


Spain - Brazil (officially Holland) 1 - 0

Spain should have had a penalty for a push from behind by Van Bommel on Alonso at begin of the second half, it was very near the edge but it was in the box. To compensate for it, the spanish goal was invalid because right before it Holland should have got a foul near the edge of the spanish box; from the following play Spain had the ball all the way to the back of the dutch net, they were a few times on the brink of losing it but managed to retain it.
Deserved win over-all though with many incidents. De Jong should have walked away in the first half for a horrible high kick on Alonso. Near the end of the half there was an incident at which Puyol could have got the second YC, maybe if Robben had fallen but the foul was pretty weak, usually there's no card for such a thing. Then, of course, Heitinga got his second yellow for a somewhat similar action, but: his foul was clearly from behind, which Puyol's wasn't, and Iniesta gave in to it and fell, thus the foul caused him to lose the ball. Robben chose to continue and did retain control, which he subsequently lost by his own fault. So while the incidents are similar, they're not similar enough IMO to cry foul.
So over-all Howard No-Penalty-For-Spain Webb did whistle a bit against Spain, not enough though to make them lose, and not enough for it to be a big problem. Which doesn't mean it was a good performance on his part, it wasn't, way too many errors (there were a lot of other smaller ones too), undeserving of a WCup final. It only highlights once again the need for video refs in tournaments of this importance, even if it largely leveled out and the team he disadvantaged over-all ended up being the winners.

Final ranking:

The FairFootball winner of the World Cup 2010 is the official winner Spain.
While this is very fortunate, and a lot better than at the previous Cup, it doesn't mean everything was OK. Since Brazil were kicked out wrongly in the quarters, they couldn't fight for themselves, there's no saying what would have happened in the final that should have been, Brazil - Spain.
It's in fact 2002 all over again but reversed. Then Spain (together with Italy) were cheated out and Brazil won it, this time Brazil were cheated out and Spain won it. A bit of cosmic justice, or who knows, maybe the real reason is a lot more earthly.
To look at it in a positive way, like in 2002, more likely than not this time the champions deserved it. Which seems to be the most one can ask for in this heavily imperfect world of today's football.

winner: Spain
finalist: Brazil (officially Holland)

As said, this is the whole FF ranking in this tournament's lite version.

Some heated debates about the validity of our approach and about our style of refereeing at this World Cup can be found here:
Google groups: World Cup 2006 refereeing
Google groups: Is Italy win tainted ?

I welcome opinions on FairFootball-related issues at the e-mail address
(place the @ appropriately).