At a time when a former CONCACAF president is accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes and is under house arrest having provided five Rolexes, six other luxury watches, three expensive cars, diamond jewelry and 10 properties to cover his $10m bond, it’s good to know that the governing body is putting scandals behind it and moving forward.
How great to be able to focus on the soccer once more and enjoy the spectacle of the Gold Cup semifinals in Atlanta last night.
True, things often get heated in the Gold Cup, there are often controversies, but it was good to know that America’s top ref was on the case when Mexico faced Panama. An official so outstanding he went to last year’s World Cup. A man fully equipped to handle a night of drama.
Sadly, things did not go so well for Mark Geiger. In fact, he turned in the worst performance by an American since — well, since the U.S. lost to Jamaica in the same stadium an hour earlier.
So the “CONCACAF is corrupt” theme didn’t get much of a break.
Here’s the front page of Panama’s most popular daily, fluency in Spanish not necessary:
Mexico reached the last four courtesy of a dubious penalty awarded in the last minute of extra time against Costa Rica in the quarters. Here it was on the verge of going out before Geiger awarded an 89th minute penalty for handball that caused fury in the stands and a 12-minute delay as debris rained onto the field and Panama’s players appeared to be considering abandoning the match.
When even the guy who eventually takes the penalty thinks it was a bad decision and says he thought about missing it on purpose, you know that’s a dubious call.
To believe that it was an intentional handball, you’d have to believe that Roman Torres had got himself fouled by his opponent in just such a way that he’d lose his balance and fall backwards so he’s lying on the ball in such a way that it would briefly graze his arm.
Still, everyone makes mistakes, and this was clearly an isolated one. It’s not like Geiger had already shafted Panama in the first half by giving an absurdly harsh red card to one of their players.
Of course, Mexico went on to win 2-1 after extra time, courtesy of another, less dodgy, penalty. But the first kick gave us an all-time classic call from Univision’s announcer, so everything was kind of worth it.