World Cup 2022 News Media Coverage Update

News Media darling Uruguay's Gimenez
News Media darling Uruguay's Gimenez

The news media’s coverage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is beginning to heat up in terms of bias and a few examples are leading the charts.

But first, an interesting piece in the New York Times reported several national reactions to World Cup 2022 goings-on including riots in Belgium over their loss to Morocco and Iran’s fury at USSF.  If you read their coverage you might note some subtle bias against some teams and the results they obtain, but you really have to look.

But moving on to the second most interesting of all reactions, we come to the Ronaldo-haters among the news media incensed reaction to the penalty awarded CR7 against Ghana which they universally called a “soft penalty.”

Papa tried to find the section in the FIFA Laws of Game that referred to soft penalties, or to “not-enough-contact-for-a-foul” or even the section for “didn’t-foul-him-enough-for-a-call,” and golly-gee, he found no such section. The only issue is that now VAR will find many penalties (not all) that referees miss, and that has those whose teams are the victims of the calls, or who were rooting against the team that got the penalty called for them, annoyed. Too bad.

Surprisingly, the fact that the ref who allowed Serbia to foul Neymar out of the cup (so far) is the ref who then officiated the Portugal-Uruguay match–the UAE’s Mohammed Abdulla Hassan–in which he missed the calls mentioned below and had to be rescued by VAR in the big one, was not a talking point among most football pundits or other news media outlets.

Number one on the charts

Not surprisingly, the call made in favor of Portugal, awarding a penalty for Jose Maria Gimenez’s handball, is the overall English-language news media focus on “wrong calls at the cup”—almost unanimously they say it was not a penalty because the rules state that Gimenez is allowed to break his fall with his arm. Well, let’s take a real close look at that play.

Just what sort of contact resulted in Gimenez’s fall, certainly not that with the much smaller Bruno Fernandes. Look at what Gimenez did to the bigger Joao Felix in that same match and you get the impression he could also manhandle Fernandes like a rag doll. Did Gimenez’s feet go out from under him in the penalty area—nope. So, why the fall, you know, other than to obstruct his opponent, land on, or move the ball that has just nutmegged you, and stop your opponent’s ability to progress?

Most athletes know you don’t put your arm down straight like Gimenez did to break a fall because you are likely to break your arm, so what you do is cushion your fall with your arm bent. So, how many times have you broken your fall with your arm stretched out softly enough to move aside a ball which is behind you with your hand before your arm lands on the pitch to cushion your fall? If you can control your downward motion that much you are certainly not in need of breaking any fall. Most such arms put out to break a fall are put out somewhat bent and rather firmly and would have had the effect of really harming the arm had it been obstructed by any firm object on its way down, just ask the USA’s Josh Sargent about what happens when a limb strikes a ball while trying to break a trip or fall—or watch the video of his fall in the Iran-USA match.

If as you fall, your hand moves the ball to the side, and not forward as would be likely if, you know, physics were involved, but, say, it moved the ball in a direction advantageous to the “falling” defender, and you know, just coincidentally away from the forward progressing Fernandes, and, you know, in effect stopped Fernandes from progressing with the play, then you would have to consider yourself, as a defender that is, truly fortunate, or, you know, there is subterfuge afoot.

It was such a good act by Gimenez that it took a VAR review and slow-motion video to catch, but once you knew what to look for the deception leaped out at you like a floodlight turning on. Oh well.


Photo: Uruguay’s Jose Maria Gimenez, Shutterstock ID: 1501043573, by Jose Campos Rojas

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