Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ref Apologizes at World Cup: Also, God Loves Refs

During the Japan/Australia first round World Cup match, Egyptian referee Essam Abd El Fatah apologized for allowing a goal by Japan to stand in the first half. Apparently he felt that Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had been pushed, but he didn't make the call.

Five minutes later, according to this article from an Australian newspaper, Schwarzer approached the ref to say he felt he was fouled. Schwarzer says that Abd El Fatah responded by saying: "Yes. I made a mistake."

Holy crap! I've been taught not to admit mistakes on really really big calls. Last year, I anticipated contact on a three-point that, alas, didn't happen. As the player lined up to shoot three due to my mistake, when the coach asked, I said "You know what, coach? I'm not thrilled with that call." The coach, apparently shocked, demurred and said nothing. My partners told me I shouldn't have done that--they recommended that I "limit my admission of mistakes to out-of-bounds plays and not to shooting fouls."

Abd El Fatah took an opposite approach.

And we're not talking about a three-shot foul at a high-school game. He confessed to a mistake that resulted in a World Cup goal!

And guess what? It seemed to work out.

"He has got a lot of courage to come out and say that," Schwarzer said.

Courage or foolhardiness? I'm curious what y'all think.

Believe it or not, it gets stranger. When Australia came back and won, Abd El Fatah went further (again according to Schwarzer): "
He said God was on his side because the result went the way it did and it didn't affect his decision to give them a goal in the first half."

Wow! I tend to get annoyed at players who credit God for their victories. But this is the first time I've heard a ref invoke God's name in connection to a ballgame. Apparently God saw Abd El Fatah's error, pitied him, and allowed Australia to win so he wouldn't be shamed by his mistake being the difference-maker.

I know full well that this invocation of God is equally silly as an athlete's...but all the same, I must admit I like the image of God helping out a fellow Guy In Charge, another Maker Of Big Decisions. There's something totally appropriate about God wearing stripes. ..after all, God is supposed to be about justice.

I now must create an altar to a Ref God (one even bigger than Pierluigi Collina, than Ed Hochuli, than Darrel Garretson. Combined.) I just hope that, if I make the right sacrifices and praises, that the next time I kick one, He likes me as much as He seems to like Abd El Fatah.


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