We Hate Argentina

One of my more vivid memories of our time in the UK is watching England v Denmark in the first knock-out round of the 2002 World Cup at our local pub.

The game was played in the middle of the day on a Saturday, UK time, and England went on to win 3-nil.  But, that’s not what I remember.

By the time we arrived shortly before kick-off there was already small but vocal group of keen fans who had been drinking all morning.  They were getting ready for the match by singing a song which had the simple lyrics: “We hate Argentina! We hate Argentina!”  This was all the more curious because England had already knocked Argentina out in the group stages, so this time around they weren’t going to be able to blame Argentina for their eventual exit.

Why do English fans hate Argentina?  It’s complicated, but part of the reason is that Argentina has a history of cheating and getting away with it, whereas England does not.

Cheating and getting away with it isn’t sport, yet the “art” of diving, faking injury, pushing and shoving and pulling shirts to impede opponents, handling the ball and intimidating the referee have somehow become an integral part of football.

At some stage soon FIFA [1] are going to need to decide whether to introduce technology and/or new rules into the mix for future World Cups, to assist the referees and ensure a fair result.  There are lots of options, including the status quo of leaving it all to some poor bugger to decide in real time.

I think they could do a lot worse than consider these three changes, based on some ideas proposed by my brother:

Challenges. Each team would be given one challenge per half, which they could use to challenge any decision made by the referee – e.g. if they think the referee has missed a foul, or incorrectly awarded a free kick or penalty.  They would be reviewed by a television official.  If the challenge is successful then the decision is reversed and they maintain the challenge.  If not, they lose the ability to challenge for the remainder of the half.  Because they only have one challenge they will need to be careful to use it only when they are convinced the decision was wrong.

Red Cards for Simulation. If a player is caught diving or over-acting where there is a foul then they are sent off.  Given the ability to challenge (see above) it will no longer pay to try and play the referee and could be very expensive, so this should significantly reduce this behaviour.

Penalty Goals. If a goal would have been scored but for a foul then a goal can be awarded, rather than just a penalty.  (If this rule was in place then Uruguay would have lost the match to Ghana at the 2010 World Cup).

What do you think?

[1] Some trivia: it’s not actually FIFA who will decide on these changes.  The laws are maintained by a body called the International Football Association Board which is composed of four representatives from FIFA and one each from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Any changes need to be approved by 6 out of the 8 members.  So, all that whining from England about TV replays, but they really have nobody to blame but themselves!

5 thoughts on “We Hate Argentina”

  1. I’m not sure there necessarily needs to be a challenge process where an extra official views action replays; it may be as simple as the extra official being in a booth with screens for all the cameras at the ground. They should normally be able to easily see whether it was goal or not, etc and talk to the ref via the microphone / earpiece you could see they were wearing at the just finished World Cup. For example, in the England Germany game the extra official could have immediately told the referee that it had been a goal; it was that obvious as soon as it had happened.

    I absolutely agree with Red Cards for Simulation and Penalty Goals although the former can sometimes be hard to judge at the time. Penalty Goals are a must; what Uruguay did was strictly within the rules but it’s really not at all fair when it was almost certainly going to be a goal. I believe the only fair outcome would have been to award the goal.

    1. I’ve always wondered why they don’t just have a TV screen available behind each in-goal area in rugby, so the ref can take a look themselves when a try is not obvious, rather than faffing around with the “tell if there is any reason why a try cannot be awarded” rubbish. I think this is what they do in American Football?

  2. Those are great ideas IF they were interested in improving the game. But the thinking inside of FIFA is that controversy is good!

    Just think about it, the world has been talking about this disallowed goal for weeks even after the world cup. And you will probably remember it for the rest of your life correct?

    What if the goal was counted and England still lost? Very little word of mouth buzz there, and very little life long discussion.

    Where would Diego Maradona’s “hand-of-God” be if the other team had a challenge? Yet this is one of the game’s most talked about occurances.

    With every global sport competing for attention and significance, FIFA sees controversy as a great way to stir the passion of fans. So while they indeed need to get things right, they are intentionally slow to do so.

  3. My 5 cents worth is that the England vs Argentina hate thing does relate to the themes you have raised – but enhanced by the “Hand of God” 1986 experience, seen as extreme injustice against a v popular 1986 England team/manager combined with the then still fresh Falklands war.

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