Contrary to what we usually heard after matches, there is no law that requires head coaches to criticize officiating after their teams are eliminated from the World Cup. It’s just a natural, organic, but mostly petty way of saying goodbye to the biggest sporting event of the world. If you made a list of men who speak up about the officiating in the knockout round, it would correspond nicely to the bosses who’ve seen their teams sent home.
Take Miguel Herrera. The Mexico head coach saw his team eliminated yesterday after the Netherlands’ Arjen Robben
dived exaggerated contact in stoppage time of his team’s Round of 16 victory. After the match, Herrera confronted referee Pedro Proença and eventually argued that the Portuguese official shouldn’t have given the call. Given the nature of Rafa Márequez’s foul, however, the World Cup knockout round isn’t the only place where Robben would have drawn a whistle. Blame Robben if you want, but El Tri‘s captain did, after all, step on Robben’s foot.
Keshi’s issues with Monday’s officials are far more trivial. The Nigeria boss derides a first half offside call that replays showed was correct, while his other complaints are your regular, run-of-the-mill appeals for cards. In other words, there’s nothing new here, though Keshi does go so far as to call Major League Soccer official Mark Geiger “biased.”
“I am not happy with the officiating because Onazi, on two occasions, he had a very bad tackle and nothing was done by the referee,” Keshi said. “I think the referee was just … for me, I think he was biased. This is the first time I will speak about the referee in my life as a coach but it wasn’t good.
“If you look at the goal we scored, I don’t think there was any infringement. The referee is a human being, bound to make some mistakes, but a lot of mistakes is questionable. I am not happy about it but he’s the man who decides whatever goes on the pitch.”
If you want to say Geiger made mistakes, fair enough. We all see the game in different ways. If you want to call him biased, however — in this case, predisposed to ruling against Nigeria — that’s out of line. It only furthers the notion that Keshi’s thoughts are just paranoid sour grapes, derived from an attitude that may have blamed the officials, regardless.
It’d be too much to ask coaches to see games through an objective lens, but that’s another reason why we shouldn’t take anything they say post-match too seriously. Not only is it not their job to be impartial, but they have an incentive to depict officials as acting against them. After all, it’s much easier to explain losses in a world where outcomes are beyond your control.