What if… a goal action stopped by a wrong whistle would cause the same stir as a goal recognised by a wrong whistle?
That might sound a bit complicated, especially as a headline? But the problem itself can be explained gladly and quite simply. Nevertheless, it is necessary to elaborate a little further.
A goal that is recognised does not only cause jubilation among one’s own fans, the absolute imaginable maximum climax, the pure feeling of happiness among those who have waited feverishly for it for so long, the adrenaline rush that makes one stay with the game as a supporter, despite the often long and enduring period of suffering that has been recognised. No, an acknowledged goal also ensures an entry in the scoresheet, is reflected on the scoreboard, is entered in the standings, (usually) produces a goal scorer who can be celebrated even more, longer and more extensively, perhaps even a championship, promotion, the fulfilled goal of the season and, furthermore, an honoured top scorer?
In any case, a goal is still what counts – and not only for the fans but also for the neutral spectators who may only watch a summary or who only look at the final results and the standings.
A falling goal is the absolute exception, no goal is the normal state. It lasts almost continuously — there is simply no goal falling. Not on this attack and not on the next. The average wait for a goal is over 30 minutes at the moment, globally speaking, which is something you wouldn’t even expect on a bus or train if you wanted to reach a destination on public transport. It’s pretty pointless, so to speak, to wait for a goal the next moment. You have to let it happen. And should then rejoice. The few supporters of the team conceding the goal, as well as their players, coach, manager, board, whatever, are a small minority and are more than outweighed when it does happen by those who are so exuberantly happy. Because it would have to be all the friends of the game who are there just like that.
There is no goal. That was the statement. And not only is that the normal state of affairs, no, you also get used to a score. This is an essential aspect. The referee also does this. Everyone in the stadium, at the TV screens, in front of the live tickers, on the teletext or results servers: it is “normal” that a score does not change for a long time. It is the status quo. It is not so easy to shake it – as is also explained in the chapter on the rigidity of the rules. You settle into it and somehow want it to stay that way.
Now a recognised gate would be the thing that upsets this state. It may be that many people would be happy about this, but before a goal is scored, it must be recognised or the goal-scoring opportunity must be allowed. And this is where the slight limitations begin. One could say that when a team makes a real attack, it puts the status quo in jeopardy, endangers the state to which one has become accustomed.
The big problem with scoring goals emerges at this moment. The referee has a certain concern that everything has been done right when he allows a goal or declares everything regular at the time it is scored. Maybe there was someone with his arm on the ball, only imperceptibly, or someone there pushed slightly and I would have missed it? Maybe a player was on the edge of the offside line and I didn’t stop him with what should have been an offside whistle? You should feel free to rejoice, I would do the same. But please, everything must have been done according to the rules. Otherwise – and this is now gradually getting to the crucial aspect – I’m the bogeyman.
Intuitively speaking, it is essential to avoid any kind of mistake when it comes to the events of a goal, which occur so rarely but which are recorded in the results and the table. Partly because it (the goal) happens so rarely, partly because it receives this entry and possibly causes considerable damage to a team – relegation? European Cup missed? No title? – which could have been avoided if the situation had been properly recognised. So, above all, you have to make sure that every goal was absolutely flawless and was scored regularly.
Now one can consider the opposite situation for a moment: an offside was recognised that did not exist (in English, by the way, the opposite of “offside” is “onside”; translated, it should actually mean: the player was not offside, he was “on this side”, whereby one would presumably assume esoteric thinking there…). Or a penalty was disallowed, which in the judgement of all the experts was proven to be a mistake. All these decisions merely suppressed a possible entry in the results board and table.
There is even another aspect here: if the penalty had been awarded, it would still not have been a goal. It would still have to go in. If a player was wrongly stopped by the offside flag, he would still not have hit the net for sure. So if the referee were to make a mistake in this sense, an error of far less than a goal would always be disadvantageous in his assessment. So, so to speak, the “if, would have and but” precedes this, and this, of course, may not be invoked. If a coach, for example, were to do so, he would merely be trying to divert attention from the real reasons for the defeat or would be looking for the referee’s fault instead of dealing with the problems in his team. In any case, it would be considered amateurish to invoke such an error to justify an unsuccessful result.
A goal conceded which was based on a mistake: it has the dimension of a whole goal. Disallowed goal, usually as an offside or not given penalty: less than a goal. Which mistake would you rather have made, if any?
So there are two possibilities when you first put yourself in the referee’s shoes: make a possible mistake that allows a goal or make a possible mistake that stands in the way of a goal? The reasons have all already been mentioned: he prefers to decide in favour of option b): if a mistake is to be made, then it is better to make one that does not allow a goal. All of this still happens “purely intuitively”, insofar no accusations are made here. Especially since the referee sees and receives his report card – and only finds a bad assessment in it if he has committed the mistake of a whole goal. This would also be the case if penalties were awarded that were identified as swallows. Here, the attention would only skyrocket if the penalty was converted – and the mistake thus takes on the aforementioned dimension. If it does not go in, one simply speaks of “compensatory justice” and covers the mantle of silence about it. Nothing happens, why get upset and about what?
So if there is an accusation, it could only concern those who issue the certificates. This is primarily (once again) the media, which picks out incidents and makes them boil over – or sweeps others under the table.
The fact remains, however, that the general reactions are classified as explainable and thus any malice in them is absent. They react this way because they… The explanations, however, may have to be accepted as written down here. Or offer a better one. But it would have to be conclusive and at the same time take into account the facts.
Just to get rid of this one thought: if one remembers mistakes or asks anyone who spontaneously comes to mind, then they are almost always gross mistakes that allowed a goal that was not legal. This is probably partly due to the attention given to the mistake, but also to the other reasons given (“Yes, we lost the game because of this mistake. Otherwise we would be ahead of them in the table.” To give just one example, no one would say: “If he hadn’t raised the offside flag and our striker had come up alone in front of the goalkeeper and then scored, we would have been ahead of them. And it wasn’t offside, as the slow motion showed.”). In reality, however, there are further brain tricks that are capable of distorting our view.
For: the increased perception of these mistakes, which, so to speak, grips everyone who has not yet read and internalised this text, thus has the character of whitewashing a greater number of mistakes that turn out differently. So: the number of mistakes that stand in the way of a goal – here always keeping the “possible” one in mind – is far higher than those that have allowed irregular goals. By drawing more attention to this, one creates mental balance. “Sometimes so wrong, sometimes so wrong, it all balances out. Don’t get upset!”
Only one could classify this very last dodge as ultimately fatal. For: precisely because everyone intuitively senses and notices that virtually everything is directed against the goals, but does not dare to say so because it would bring down the seemingly so stable edifice of “football” that has been built up over a lifetime, the mistakes that have allowed goals to be scored are brought more and more into focus. So when you hear a discussion, it’s almost all about how to avoid an irregular goal being recognised. That really can’t and shouldn’t happen, you have to realise that, don’t you? Video evidence will also only have these consequences, as is being predicted today, August 2017.
The thinking is going everywhere and more and more in the wrong direction. The spectator entertainment, the excitement, the enjoyment of it, all unimportant trifles, they claim, The important thing is that only goals count that were also regular.
The effects have been noticeable and clearly increasing over the years — but only with careful observation. The referee decisions have a headline: The main thing is no goal, then everything is fine. If a mistake had crept in: no big problem. The other way round: drama. To illustrate this with just one example: when a corner kick or a long free kick sails into the penalty area today, a whistle often sounds while the ball is still in the air. The decision 99.9% of the time: Free kick for the defence. What should have happened? That cannot be clarified, but it can be relied on that there was physical contact at several points. So you couldn’t blame the ref either way. A commentator judging the scene live simply says these words: “He must have seen something.” He didn’t, but what does it matter? He simply whistles – and has no trouble to fear. He wouldn’t even be asked the question, but if someone did: “Why did you blow the whistle in that scene?” then the answer would be exactly the same: “Some attacker pulled on his jersey.” Or whatever. That the defenders wouldn’t have done a bit less — rather, a bit more (see chapter on the peace agreement) — that doesn’t matter in the slightest. It should, but it doesn’t.
A recognised goal that had a blemish is, for these many reasons mentioned, a mistake that attracts high attention. If, despite all these circumstances, one nevertheless calculates how great the influence of a mistake is that stood in the way of a goal, then one can only come to the conclusion that they should be equal to each other. Whether a goal is recognised that should not have counted or a goal that should/could/should not have been scored but was disallowed, the two errors would have to balance each other out, also in terms of perception. Possibly, however, only after careful study of this text and prudent reflection on it. A stolen goal is worth just as much as an irregularly conceded one. There should be agreement on that.
Now, finally, more as a conclusion to the headline: if it were possible to keep the attention justly equal for mistakes of both types, then there would again only be the usual suspects as winners: justice and with it football, the excitement in the game, the entertainment through more allowed goal scenes and goals, the neutral spectator, who has unfortunately already migrated but could very easily be brought back – if one also confirms this observation here and responds to it in the sense of “taking it to heart”.