Really? It’s that easy? Wave a red card and people go away?
I’ve been obsessing about red cards since the United States and Russia began issuing sanctions in the past week.
John Boehner can’t go to Russia? Does that apply in Congress, too?
On Saturday, there was Roman Abramovich and his girl friend free to watch his club, Chelsea, rampage through Arsenal.
But what if the West and Russia were to ratchet up the red cards, and the oligarchs and their money were not allowed into the West?
What if the Nets’ owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, were not allowed to inspect Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, rusting away before his eyes?
What about the billionaire who bought an $88-million pied-a-terre for his daughter on Central Park West?
What’s the point of being an oligarch if you can’t go west for R&R? Why amass all that money in the first place?
Speaking of sanctions, it’s time for soccer to wave the red card at referee Andre Marriner after his blatant mistake – and refusal to listen to reason – on Saturday.
Chelsea was already leading, 2-0, in the early minutes. I thought Chelsea had a huge advantage, shooting from sunlight into shadow (sunlight! in London! in March!) but maybe it did not matter.
Marriner correctly saw an Arsenal defender deflect a shot that was probably veering wide.
Tweet! The ref promptly called a penalty kick for Chelsea and an automatic red card for Arsenal.
Only trouble was, the ref waved the red card at No. 28 Kieran Gibbs rather than No. 15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and his guilty fingertips, who had been closer to the goal.
Anybody can make a mistake. But when the Arsenal players tried to explain, Marriner was too blockheaded to listen. His two assistants on the sideline were apparently daydreaming, so Gibbs went off. The authorities will switch the one-match suspension on Monday, but Marriner also needs time away, to learn how to reason.
The match ended, 6-0, in favor of Chelsea, with José Mourinho demonstrating his seething super ego, the coldest stare this side of Putin.
* * *
Two other soccer observations:
*-I’ve never been a fan of John Terry or Wayne Rooney, but both demonstrated their resourcefulness and skill in Champions League matches in recent days.
*-I take back most things I ever said about the Dolans. James L. Dolan relinquished his wretched control of the Knicks this past week, and now Cablevision, owned by the Dolans, has added the Qatari station, beIN, to my cable package, just in time for the Clásico (Real-Barça, but you know that) on Sunday. Cablevision, le saludo. (And I forgot to thank fellow Queens-person Andy Tansey for calling my attention to the news about Cablevision.)
Welcome to World Cup 2022, the most absurd thing that the routinely absurd world of sports has ever produced.
Those extreme descriptions were what virtually the entire world, save for those who had walked off with bags of cash from Qatar, called the awarding of soccer’s greatest event to the incredibly tiny, incredibly wealthy country back in 2010.
Twelve years ago, many were convinced this event couldn’t possibly happen: staging the world’s biggest sporting event in a country the size of Connecticut, one with zero soccer culture and even less soccer infrastructure? The tournament couldn’t possibly take place in 120-degree heat, and FIFA, the governing body of soccer, most certainly wouldn’t upend football leagues around the world to change the traditional summer schedule, could it?
And, for God’s sake, what about the beer?
Those were just the logistical concerns. The moral concerns are far more distressing. FIFA, so busy paying lip service to equality, couldn’t possibly expect the world to embrace a country where you could go to prison for being gay, where women’s rights are severely curtailed and female victims of sexual assault could go to prison, charged with engaging in extramarital sex. And all those questions came before the global realization that the World Cup was being built on the backs of migrant labor: modern-day slaves held in Qatar with virtually no rights, low wages and no ability to leave. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s stated population of 3 million. The country’s native-born equal about 300,000, or roughly the size of Anaheim.
---Ann Killion, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.