Monday, November 14, 2011

IS Football as fixed as cricket?

I watched the football match between the Republic of Ireland and Estonia last Friday. 

As the Hungarian referee made decision after decision that favoured the Irish visitors, it was firstly frustrating, then infuriating, then contemptible.

I am not the only one who believes that the match we saw last Friday was not fairly refereed.

There is then the question of why Estonia faced this biased match? Personally I do not think that UEFA or FIFA would have decided that Ireland deserved a measure of recompense for the Hand of Gaul, although Armenia have formally complained that they suffered similar bias when they played Ireland.

I do think it is possible that Football may be suffering from the same kind of problem as Cricket.

Ireland is a betting mad nation, and huge wagers are staked whenever the Republic plays.

I am no expert, but to my eye, the quality of refereeing was so poor that it is hard to admit of an excuse that does not involve skulduggery. We already know that the international football administration shows signs of profound corruption. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that if a fish rots from the head, might the very game of football too be facing a genuine crisis?

The problem is with Sepp Blatter in charge, who is widely believed to have fostered a culture of corruption across FIFA, it is hard to believe that any clean investigation could be launched. The cynicism in the round ball game remains hard faced and the morals of the game have been reduced to a matter of gamesmanship and money.

The team that beat Serbia 3-0 away could certainly have lost to Ireland 4-0 at home, but the two red cards and the exclusion of three key Estonian players for the return match tomorrow certainly made the process of Irish qualification a whole lot easier.

Suspiciously so, you might say.

UPDATE: After seeing such a different match in Dublin, which ended in a 1-1 draw, I am now pretty firmly convinced that the match in Tallinn was fixed. Unless football can clean its Augean stables, I don't think I will be following it any further. 

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