It’d be suffice to say it’s over for the Aussies, that the World Cup has reverted to being a foreign oddity, and perhaps we’ll do better next time. Ah well. But no, fair sirs and madams, that is surely incorrect! This is a one-eyed supporter here, doing what one-eyed supporters do best! Blame-shift!
Ah, the Italians. Famed for their defensive play, coming up against the rampaging underdogs of the tournament, the Aussies. Joga Bonito, the beautiful game as the Brazillians call it, was demonstrated in their own way, the Australian Way. And in the end, the better team on the day did not win, because it came down to the running theme of this tournament, the Referee.
The referees haven’t had a good run this year. They’re supposed to be cracking down, but have done it in so many incoherent and eccentric ways that one really has to question what playbook they are following. This World Cup, the “favourites” have had an extremely good run, being favoured by decisions almost 2 to 1. Sure enough, it would be a truism to say that referees decided the game, because referees enforce rules and thus always decide the outcome of the game. But what this one-eyed supporter wants to know is: when will they finally get rid of the blatant diving? There are some players out there that would be freely certified for SCUBA licenses!
And so it was that the Australians’ fate was decided in the very last minute of the match. It was a hard tackle, no doubt, but that’s the way the game goes when the Aussies play. But to see someone so valliantly going out of their way to obey the laws of physics, and then those of the theater (“thou shalt ham it up”) meant that in the end, joga bonito, the way the game should be played, ultimately lost.
Coda of fairness: If the Aussies really were that good, they would have earlier in the match. The Italians had every right to play defensively; it is their style, and there was a very harsh straight red card. But I still wonder how much more exciting, more pleasingly fantastic the game would have been had the referee held on to his whistle and extra time came into effect. To have it wrenched away in the last minute… heart-breaking.