>> Sunday, November 22, 2009
Mr. Brian Cowen is the Prime Minister of Ireland
I might be able to forgive saying something dumb in the immediate aftermath of an important game in which an official blew an important call -- maybe even Joe Nathan's recent impulse to bitch and moan about the egregious missed call in a game in which the call wouldn't have happened at all if he had done his job. But it's both hilarious and pathetic that actual political leaders in Ireland still seem, days later, to be advocating the idea of a replay with a straight face. I can imagine some narrow circumstances -- ineligible players, demonstrably corrupt officials -- that could warrant a replay, but I assume that it doesn't require elaborate argument to point out that an honest official making a garden-variety bad call isn't one of them. Bad calls are part of the sport; if every team that loses a close game got a replay because a bad call theoretically could have turned the game in their favor is entitled to a replay, we would just keep replaying close games forever. Moreover, in this case waving off the goal wouldn't have even been decisive from Ireland's perspective. It would be farcical enough to call for a replay in a case in which an official's getting a call right actually, all things being equal, would have handed you a championship (as with Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals.) But in this case, getting the call right would almost certainly have given Ireland the opportunity to win a coin flip in the shootout.
To give the point broader applicability, this should also be pointed out:
Wednesday's infamous goal -- Mr. Henry's "Hand of Gaul," as London's Daily Telegraph called it -- overshadowed several complicating realities in the match. Ireland led 1-0 and had at least three very strong chances to add another goal which would have almost certainly assured victory.
But the French goal tied the score 1-1. Since France had won 1-0 in Dublin, with the tie it prevailed, 2-1, on aggregate.
The blame for being eliminated from the World Cup belongs, in its entirety, to the players of the Irish team. They put themselves in the place in which a single bad break could eliminate them by 1)losing the first game and 2)