Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Having so many books to read makes deciding what to read next a diffcult choice. After three weeks of many away days with a lot of strenuous preparation, traveling, and speaking, I relaxed with a PG Wodehouse, 'Right Ho! Jeeves'. Entertaining enough with many a chortle, but I wanted something more substantial so I am now getting into 'Arthur and George' by Julian Barnes. It is the story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his fight for justice for an Anglo-Indian solicitor who was falsely accused of a disgusting crime. It is about injustice and celebrity. It resulted in the establishment of the Court of Appeal. I've only read about 50 pages, so more about Conan Doyle later.

The newspapers are full of stories of injustice at the moment. The broadsheets are rumbling on about the Supreme Court's decision to rule the Military Tribunals at Guantanamo invalid, the red-tops are complaining about Rooney's sending-off at the World Cup.

Both these issues are complex and admit to no easy answer. Read Mark Steyne's essay here , or for more considered conservative response try this . The extreme liberal view is that Guantanamo should be closed down, President Bush leads a nest of criminals who seek to impose authoritarian rule, and the troops should come home now. Perhaps in between the extremes there will be a decision that suits all, or perhaps inflames everybody equally.

On Rooney's sending off the views are just as polarized. Anybody with a computer can re-run the incident. Rooney was sent off by the Argentinian referee for violent conduct. Watch the video and you will see that Rooney receives the ball, but is immediately tackled by three opponents. Remarkably, he does not fall over as most forwards are prone to do (prone being a good adjective for World Cup footballers) but fights for the ball. In the turmoil he clearly steps back on Carvalho's balls as he lies on the ground behind him. The referee is immediately surrounded by Portuguese players who encourage hime to give Rooney a card. Rooney is seen to push away Cristano Ronaldo, the ringleader of this group. The referee then fourishes a red card at Rooney who is thus dismissed the field. As he walks away, Ronaldo is seen to wink at the bench.

There is a subtext here. All three of the principals play for English clubs. Rooney and Ronaldo for Manchester United, Carvalho for their bitter rivals and the current champions, Chelsea. Rooney is well known to have a short temper and opponents use this to rile him in the hope that he will disgrace himself. Ronaldo has a reputation as a sly player who falls over to easily in the hope of fooling the referee.

As for Argentinian referee - there is a long record of rancour between England and Argentina. In 1966 the England manager called the Argentinian players animals because of their brutal fouls. Then there was the Falklands. Last time out Argentina was knocked out by England in the group stages and this time in the quarter finals by Germany. And who could forget the 'hand of God'; Maradonna'a handball that scored an illegal goal in a previous tournament

The crux of the matter is whether Rooney stamped on Carvalho's balls deliberately or trod on them accidentally as he sought to regain his balance. Rooney says it was the latter, the referee the former. Viewers of the video must judge for themselves. For what it's worth I think it is impossible to be sure, but I think it was an accident. The point is that it is impossible to give an unbiased opinion. That's why we have the rule of law and an independent court of appeal.

In English law a person is innocent until proved guilty, and the level of proof is 'beyond reasonable doubt'. There is a tendency for officialdom to believe its officials. In the Conan Doyle case the injustice was perpetrated by a policeman and endorsed by the Chief Constable. We have the principle that no body should investigate itself. On past form Rooney might banned by FIFA and be unavailable for England for their next several matches. With Beckham and Owen both injured this would place them under a handicap. FIFA are unlikely to overrule the referee since thgis would place the validity of their competition in jeopardy. It has been sugested that were Rooney to apologise he would receive leniency. That is the Shawshank Redemption catch - you never get parole until you admit your guilt, even if you are innocent. There is so much money in the game that someone might decide to sue FIFA. The decision then would be on the balance of probabilities.

Children everywhere utter the refrain,"It's not fair."

Have you ever thought why we think it should be?


Jim McVey said...

Thanks for the Rooney explanation I too thought it was a setup.
Linking it to the Gitmo fracas is par for the world situations.
I struggle with the idea, am I getting smarter in my old age or is
it all due to technology advancements, we are able to see more of public events than we ever have before.

When Governments are involved with their command of resources to be used for good or ill, what can be believed. With news coverage
being so competitive, it is a common thing to see on one channel an incident being described, when viewed on an other channel the same incident is portrayed differently. Honesty is questionable in those
circumstances. Each channel self advertising, "we are the best" who
can we believe.

I watched the France/Brazil game and thought to myself it didn’t
matter that England had lost, France will win. The French side
played dazzling football, most enjoyable especially against Brazil.

Perhaps the answer is to have 3 referees in Soccer. With TV
coverage being used in an after game decision on judgement calls.
The instant gratification of watching sport would be lost. But
crime/court shows are on the increase, I rest my case.

Steve Madden said...

For a day or two I blamed the ref for Australia loosing to Italy but on reflection we were not good enough. Australia did not score despite a few opportunities. Italy did after a penalty that may only have been awarded 40% of the time.

England despite being a man down still had many chances to win the game.

We can blame the ref and sing songs about dubious pedigree but in Australia's case they were not good enough. England didn't take their chances.

How could Rooney not be tempted to put a little extra pressure on the lower groin of the prone Portugese. (grin)

I am happy that the US supreme court has ruled that article 3 of the Geneva convention must be applied to the POW's in GITMO. Anyone who thinks that troops can be brought home now has rocks in their head.