What Is It With France and Bad Officiating?
I haven’t irritated OJ purists by blogging about (international) sports for a while, so I think it’s only appropriate to point out that, for the second time in two years, the French have stayed alive in a World Cup only by the grace of pathetic officiating. The most recent outrage comes courtesy of soccer (being American, I refuse to call it football), where France defeated Ireland and advanced to the 2011 World Cup because four referees missed French striker Thierry Henry’s blatant use of his hands not once but twice on the pass that led to France’s go-ahead goal. Ireland is in mourning and — rightly — calling for a replay of the match, which would have gone to a penalty shootout had all four referees not chosen an opportune time to stop watching the match.
It’s bad enough that the Irish, with their lovely accents, are deprived of a chance to go to the World Cup. Even worse, referees also handed the French a victory over my beloved All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team, during the 2007 World Cup. The All Blacks lost to France 20-18 because the referee, Wayne Barnes, refused to call a ridiculously obvious forward pass on the game-winning try. So hated is Barnes in New Zealand that his name has entered the Kiwi lexicon as a way to describe being unfairly screwed over: “you’ve been Barnsed.”
Camille Paglia once wrote that we should ignore France’s views on international affairs until it proves it can win a war without anyone’s help. I think that’s more than a little unfair, but the corollary certainly holds true: we shouldn’t take France’s international teams seriously until they prove they can win without the help of bad referees.