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PSG and Barcelona draw after referee fails to disallow Ibrahimovic’s offside goal.

Ibrahimovic offside goalParis Saint-Germain and Barcelona drew 2:2 in the first leg of the quarterfinal game in the Champions League at Parc Des Princes this past Tuesday. The game started according to the script with Lionel Messi scoring the first goal in the 38th minute of the match.  Messi’s goal came after Barca’s Dani Alves beautifully curved the ball with outside of his foot into PSG’s penalty are and towards incoming Messi.  Messi let the ball fall and bounce and then without hesitation unleashed a shot across the penalty area, past the diving goalkeeper, and into PSG’s goal.  This was typical Messi, making the difficult look easy.  However, in the 79th minute of the game PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalized when he collected the ball inside the five-yard box that bounced off the far post after it was headed by his teammate. After the fortuitous rebound, Ibrahimovic was the quickest to react and simply tapped the ball into Barca’s goal.  Barcelona players were quick to protest the goal, arguing that Ibrahimovic was in an offside position when the ball was last played by the PSG player.  As we discuss it in much detail below, the replays showed that these protestations were well warranted. 

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Understanding and judging handling offenses in soccer.

West Brom v. SunderlandWe have written about handling offenses a lot on this blog and for good reason.  These decisions almost always seem controversial. One reason that these decisions invite so much controversy and discussion stems from the fact that the Laws of the Game state that a handling offense occurs when a player “handles the ball deliberately.” In other words, the referee is required to determine whether the player, whose hand/arm came in contact with the ball, intentionally or deliberately played the ball. A lot of controversy, however, also arises from a failure to understand what “deliberate” means in the context of the Laws of the Game and how referees are instructed to look at and judge these offenses. We wanted to use as an example of a correct call referee Roger East made to award a penalty kick for handling in the recent game between West Brom Albion and Sunderland in the English Premier League.  In the 35th minute of the game, West Brom Liam Ridgwell’s cross struck Sunderland’s Craig Gardner in the arm. Mr. East, who was perfectly positioned to make the call, immediately pointed to the spot (see the video below).    

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The forgotten, and rarely enforced pass-back violation, goes unpunished yet again.

In the 91st minute of the game between West Brom and Aston Villa, Aston Villa’s Lowton and West Brom’s Lukaku were locked in a fierce battle for a ball near Aston Villa’s penalty area. Panicking Lowton, who appeared to be on the losing end of the battle for the ball, in his last ditch effort to prevent Lukaku from taking control over the ball, kicked the ball toward his goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Guzan calmly collected the ball and the dangerous attack petered out. Despite some protestation from West Brom players, Referee Lee Probert did not spot any infringement and let the game continue (see the video below). We believe Mr. Probert decision to let the play continue was wrong.

 

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Chelsea’s Ivanovic sent off for ugly tackle on City’s Kolarov.

In the 42nd minute of the Community Shield match between Chelsea and Manchester City, Referee Kevin Friend showed Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic a red card for a tackle on Manchester City’s Aleksandar Kolarov. As the footage below shows, Ivanovic attempted to dispossess Kolarov by a sliding tackle. While sliding toward Kolarov and the ball, Ivanovic raised his leading leg off the ground,  exposed his studs and -- with speed and fully outstretched leg -- barreled his way into Kolarov’s shin, taking him down in the process. Mr. Friend did not hesitate and immediately showed Ivanovic a red card. Despite Chelsea’s protests at the severity of the punishment, Mr. Friend was absolutely right in dismissing Ivanovic from the game because his tackle was not merely “reckless.” Rather, it was "serious foul play." 

 

For the reasons explained below, Ivanovic was guilty of “serious foul play” when he tackled Kolarov and therefore deserved the most severe form of punishment.

 

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Six second rule violation pivotal in the U.S. win at the Olympics.

The U.S. Women Soccer Team defeated Canada 4:3 to reach the final at the London’s Olympic Games. The game was fast-paced, hard-fought and highly entertaining. Indeed, Canada led the U.S. Women on three separate occasions and the U.S. team came back to tie the game each time. The U.S. Women’s final game winning goal also came in a dramatic fashion. It was scored in the 123rd minute -- the last minute of the added time in the second overtime  -- by Alex Morgan (click here to see the highlights from the game). Now in the finals, the U.S. will be given opportunity to avenge its loss from the last World Cup final against Japan. The gold medal match between the U.S. and Japan  will begin at 2:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at Wembley Stadium in London. It should be equally entertaining game.

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