|Case Study #||21-2013|
|Date||24 July 2013|
|Competition||CONCACAF Gold Cup, Semi-Final|
|Fixture/Result||USA 3 – 1 Honduras|
|Referee/Badge||Walter Quesada (CRC)|
|At Issue||The referee allows heavy contact during the match, much to the chagrin of the USA coach.|
USA won their semi-final match against Honduras 3-1, and with relative ease. But Coach Juergen Klinsmann missed the finals after being dismissed with only two minutes of normal time remaining. To the casual observer, it may appear that Klinsmann overreacted to a non-call when a Honduran player kicked USA captain DeMarcus Beasley in the stomach. In fact though, Klinsmann had been upset with the refereeing for most of the second half.
While watching the match with my wife – who is no huge soccer fan – she asked me the following question in about the 80th minute:
“How many times is the ref going to let Honduras foul him [Beasley]? I thought you told me that was illegal?”
So, I started paying attention (read: I put down my iPhone), and noticed that the referee was allowing a lot of heavy contact. I watched the entire second half again, this time counting fouls and watching the reaction of the players and coaches. Between the 52 and 87 minutes there were 8 incidents that resulted in a foul or at least made me wonder if a foul should’ve been whistled.
Watching Klinsmann’s reactions on the touchline, I could see his temperature rising and wondered if the referee was going to address it.
Klinsmann’s temper finally boiled over resulting in his dismissal by the referee. Without excusing Klinsmann’s behavior, it is might be instructive for us to ask: could this have been avoided? Do we really want a coach to miss the opportunity to be on the touchline during the finals of a “major” (well, it is here) tournament? Could the referee have taken steps to avoid what was clearly coming?
Watch the video below and draw your own conclusions. Note the reaction of the USA players to the level of contact that the referee is allowing.
After the clips from the USA v HON match, there is a short sequence from the Martinique v Mexico match from the group stage of the tournament. Mexico (white) player #13 is fouled hard from behind by a Martinique player. The referee (Mark Geiger, USA) intervenes quickly and decisively, showing the universal “NO MORE” gesture. Less than one minute later, a different Martinique player fouls Mexico #13 in much the same manner as the first foul (late, hard tackle with no attempt to play the ball).
What do you see that is different about the way Geiger approaches the problem? Is it more or less effective? Or just different?