as de espadas
torero con estoque

Referees' alternative theories of time

This one needs a good explanation if we're to understand it. Maybe Collina is up to the task. In 24 hours and in the same city we saw two different international referees respectively apply different criteria in the same situation: a corner awarded with regulation time and the additional minutes completed. In the Bernabéu the German Felix Brych blew for full time before United could take it. A day later in the Calderón and Hungarian Istvan Vad allowed Atlético to take theirs. What was the difference? The only thing that springs to mind is that the corner in the Bernabéu was for the away team, in the Calderón, in favour of the home side.

So the first wasn't taken and the second was, with catastrophic, if indirect, consequences. But the issue here is the discretion referees apply in certain situations, utterly unbothered by the Laws of the Game. These say, word for word, that when time is up, time is up. There is only one exception, when a penalty awarded in the dying seconds. In that case the penalty is taken with no chance of a rebound, as if it were a penalty shoot-out. In no other situation can be the game be extended. Not even for a restart after a goal.

Before, time was more flexible, when the only watch belonged to the ref, and we saw situations such as Clive Thomas ruling out a Brazilian goal (in Argentina, of course) when Zico headed home from a corner. According to Thomas the sands of time ran out as the ball was inward bound to Zico, and he was already raising the whistle to his lips when the goal arrived. Take that. Now the additional time is shown to all on a board, but the referees have simply made room for themselves in the new system. And they can come out better or worse depending on the day and the circumstances. And sometimes, as in the Calderón, they open the stable door only to see the horse set off for the horizon.

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