Pedro Proenca of Portugal is no outsider, like the Tunisian ref who went for the blatant Maradona punched goal in 1986.
Proenca has handled Cameroon-Croatia and Japan-Colombia in this World Cup and also Bayern Munich-Chelsea in the Champions League and Spain-Italy in the Euro tournament.
He should know cynical flopping when it happens a few steps away from him.
Proenca should have seen the minimal and intentional contact from Arjen Robben of the Netherlands to Rafa Marquez of Mexico for what it was – an attempt to game the ref.
Robben, who had the most energy on the field in the last 20 minutes, also had the wits to hook his foot onto the leg of Marquez, who is no angel but in that case was not about to do anything brutal. The ref saw Robben tumble and gave the Netherlands a penalty kick – and the match.
The ref was suckered.
The flop and PK and the 2-1 victory put the Netherlands into the quarterfinal and made the result look like another Mexico fold in the Round of 16, but the Mexicans made a long and valiant trip from nearly being eliminated in regional play.
There is no grand moral to this. It proves nothing good or bad about soccer. Diving is a fact of life. Smart players work the ref. Most refs wave “play on” most of the time on a play just like that.
Mexico got itself in trouble by not being able to keep the Dutch occupied on the other end of the field. Chicharito Hernandez in to help hold a 1-0 lead? No, señor. And in my den, I called the big sub, Huntelaar, as a menace up front against the smaller Mexicans late in the match. But still…
The Mexican keeper, Memo Ochoa, deserved better. Mexico is done, but Ochoa remains a candidate for best keeper in this tournament.
* * *
Another observation: the ESPN broadcasters, Fernando Palomo and Alejandro Moreno, have been superb -- supple in English, speaking in concepts and original thoughts, a distinct difference from the English broadcasters who call the action.
Is there something wrong with me that I cannot tell the British voices apart? They often seem to be calling the classic Monty Python Philosophers’ World Cup: “Beckenbauer obviously a bit of a surprise there.” I hope Palomo and Moreno are through to the late rounds. I hope Pedro Proenca is not.
6/29/2014 09:27:01 am
You've summed it all up extremely well, George. Well done. As for espn, I share your opinion of the Brit announcers. Whenever Ian Darke comes on I switch to Univision. I will say that Derek Rae, the Scotsman who has lived for so long in Boston, is the exception. He is everything that Darke is not: succinct, intelligent, humorous when appropriate and is not a cheerleader for anyone. He knows what to say, and when, and he knows when he shouldn't say anything. He is espn's Colombia while Darke is...England. Or maybe Honduras.
6/29/2014 01:48:08 pm
John, thanks. The funny thing is that Lalas (defender) and Ballack (attacker) agreed it was a professional foul. They said if Rafa put his leg out, he was asking for a card. I say Robben was in Totti-Land from 2002, acting like he was Edward G. Robinson getting machine-gunned on the courthouse steps or something. Yellow for bad acting. GV
6/29/2014 03:29:33 pm
Totally agree, George, which won't surprise you. I suppose sinner can always blame the one who "created the occasion of sin" for giving them the opportunity. Robben should have had a yellow card much earlier in the game for doing the same thing. Maybe if he were already on a card, as Totti was that night, he wouldn't have tried that trick a second time, as Totti did. As it was, Robben knew he got away with it once, so why not try again? This ref made a number of mistakes that conditioned the outcome of the game. As for Totti, I was not more than 20 yards from him that night in Korea when he tried to con the Ecuadoran referee Byron Moreno(who later became famous as a drug mule). The accusations and hate thrown at the Moreno, mainly by the Italians, was shameful. They were the only ones who seemed to not understand(or want to)that Totti was pulling a con job. On that night the ref did the right thing. Too bad he wasn't on the job tonight in Fortaleza.
6/29/2014 02:40:46 pm
It was an awfully dumb play by Rafa, sticking out his foot against arguably the world's most agile flopper. Robben at that point had probably lost control of the ball and other defenders were in front of him, but with Robben that close to the goal, you never know what he could have done. In retrospect, bad play by Rafa, great flop by Robben and a very questionable call by Proenca. Would have loved to have seen the end of the play if Robben hadn't found a foot conveniently under his. Love your book George.
6/29/2014 03:33:27 pm
Thank you so much. GV
mike from whitestone
6/29/2014 05:06:10 pm
Thanks GV. After watching tonight's Red Sox win, or more apropos, another Yankee loss, (like those Mets, I'm in for a mediocre just over. 500 year & a frenzy for the second wild card, the watered down MLB, 2014), saw the replay of that play on Espn right before the latest update on the Jason Kidd mutiny. David Stern wouldn't stand for the flop. Sad that the Mexican Team lost that way but I agree, not enough action on offense for them.
6/30/2014 10:09:01 am
George and John
7/1/2014 02:11:30 pm
Respectfully, Alan, while I agree with you that cautions can be warranted by an accumulation of infractions (persistent infringement) and each individual foul must stand on its own, there is no basis in the Law or referee guidance that says that different standards should be applied to determine whether an event is a foul depending upon when or where or the critical tension of the circumstances under which it occurs. If it would be a foul (trip, kick, striking, push, jumping at, unfair charge, tackle of the player before contact with the ball, holding, deliberate handling or spitting - biting not covered) in midfield when it is 0-0 in the 10th minute, it should be a foul in the penalty area in the waning minutes of extra time. That referees sometimes seem to apply different standards makes it tough to understand this, but we can also observe how top defenders gladly commit fouls just outside the penalty area which they avoid at all costs inside, and so maybe the defenders are the key ingredient. Another apparent bias is that many fouls are not called unless a player falls to the ground; the culprit's offense may be the same, and if the victim keeps his feet (e.g., Messi so often), no foul is called; if the victim takes a tumble, it is a foul. There may have been a foul on Robben. His run was magisterially (did I just mimic Ray Hudson?) masterful, and his selling of the penalty was wickedly masterful.
6/30/2014 02:15:19 pm
I confess I didn't watch the game as we were shopping for the arrival this week of three generations of Dutch friends. I did see the recap and the commentator called the call you are disputing justified. I was shocked to read this column as I have not known the Dutch team to cheat in the little I have followed them over a fair number of years. I have written to my friends for the Dutch point of view and forwarded your column to them for reaction. I will disagree with you to this extent: To me, it does make a very big difference if this call was wrong and Robben cheated. It makes me very much less interested in the sport if there is no team I can believe in that cares for genuine sporting competition.
7/1/2014 12:24:27 am
7/1/2014 01:37:23 am
Michael, thank you for being at my Phila. talk. Great to connect face and emails.
7/1/2014 06:28:55 am
Bonjour from Magog, QC. Perhaps I am providing myself with a protective shield, but if the US wins I will be overjoyed, but if not, I still feel this has been a worthy Mondial for the locals. I think coaching and playing show improvement and great effort. In any case, having been a Brooklyn Dodger fan, I can always wait until next year(s). A bientot.
7/6/2014 11:27:46 pm
it is funny to read a match only on one incident without recalling the others. there should have been a penalty kick in te firts half and a red card for mexico for an insane tackle on robben. he dived once ( and admitted to it) but the final tackle was a penalty. The defender was too late and did not aim at the ball but at the anckles of a world class attacker that is quick and deadly in the box.
7/8/2014 01:40:37 am
You are wrong about calling the foul on Robben a flop. It seems to me you are, like a lot of U.S. sportswriters, biased and misinformed about flopping and fouling especially in regards to Arjen Robben. This is not exceptional because of the huge amounts of parroting done in the U.S. about football without having actual knowledge about the game. I’ll try to explain why you are wrong calling the foul on Robben a flop using the FIFA rulebook. Which I hoped you would have known since you write about the sport.
7/8/2014 03:19:18 pm
Well said. Completely agree.
7/13/2014 05:44:00 am
Sigh. There was no foul on Robben. Just another typical unmanly melodramatic flop that typifies the apparently-not-ironically-named "beautiful game". This play is the very exemplification of this godawful sport that speaks more about the paucity of integrity of soccer-worshiping counties (fair play anyone?) compared to us beneath contempt 'uninformed' U.S. fans who calls 'em as they sees 'em, "Look daddy, the emperor has no clothes." So, to sum up: Diving (cheating) rewarded, even tacitly encouraged. Hard play quelled. No real American can accept this.
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.