Sunday, June 20, 2010


Conspiracy or have the Socceroos just been three times unlucky?

Even though it is not deemed appropriate by the corporate media to explore so-called conspiracy theories in regard to events such as Pt. Arthur, Bali, 9/11, 7/7, the economic "crash" et al. It would appear to be fine when used in the sporting lexicon. Is this an attempt to embed the idea of a conspiracy theory as being a concept best applied to unimportant events like football matches?

THREE successive World Cup matches. Three massive refereeing decisions. Every one against Australia. It's time for the conspiracy theorists to come out.

First came Fabio Grosso's infamous "dive" over Lucas Neill which gave 10-man Italy a hotly disputed last-minute penalty to sink Australia's 2006 campaign.

Then the 2010 mission opened with Australia's most influential player, Tim Cahill, sent off against Germany for a late but far from malicious challenge which even the player on the receiving end, Bastian Schweinsteiger, said shouldn't have warranted a red card.

And now Australia's finest talent, Harry Kewell, is dismissed and suspended for a match after a ball blasted from close range hit him on the upper arm on the goal line in the fighting 1-1 draw against Ghana.

The resultant penalty meant the difference between victory and defeat.

Some would even argue it's been four successive matches that the refs have punished Australia - in the Socceroos' final group stage in Germany 2006, English referee Graham Poll famously gave Croatia's Josip Simunic three yellow cards before sending him off.

How much can one nation bear?

The conspiracy theorists don't necessarily claim that anyone cheats.

It's just that the really big decisions always seem to favour the powerhouses of the game, the Italys and Germanys and Brazils, or the host nations, or in this case an African country when nations from the host continent aren't faring too brilliantly.

Maybe it's something buried deep in the subconscious minds of officials who have to make difficult snap decisions.

Whatever the case, the Socceroos were furious with Italian whistleman Roberto Rosetti's call which deprived Australia of Kewell's services for all but 25 minutes in Rustenburg and led to the equalising penalty.

"The guy has killed my World Cup," said a devastated Kewell.

"He is the referee, he's the judge, jury and executioner.

"Unless I detach my arm and put it somewhere else, there's no other way I can move my arm."

Defender Craig Moore said: "I didn't think it was a red card and I didn't think it was a penalty."

Captain Lucas Neill said: "When the ball goes 100 miles an hour at you and you're standing on the line, it's got to hit you somewhere, and it happened to hit Harry on the upper arm/shoulder."

Coach Pim Verbeek said: "It was a mistake. What can you do with your arm? You cannot cut it off. As far as I know in the rules it has to be intentional to send a player off."

The Australians are livid that Kewell received a red card for an unintentional act while Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic got off with a yellow against Germany for a clearly deliberate handball.

"Serbia has conceded two hand-to-ball penalties," said Neill, "but this could only be interpreted as ball-to-hand."

Kewell asked: "Why's is this one different?"

"It's confusing because one minute they (the referees) are saying this and next minute they're saying that."

Neill said refereeing decisions usually evened out like "swings and roundabouts".

But when it was put to him that Australia only seemed to get swings, he replied: "OK, let's pray for a roundabout."

If the football gods have consciences, that roundabout must come against Serbia in Nelspruit on Thursday morning, Australian time.

And if it isn't too much to ask, also when Ghana and Germany meet at the same time in Johannesburg in a match which must also produce a favourable outcome for Australia.

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