On the same World
Until yesterday, the complaints about referees being either wholly incapable, not handling players in the right manner or just making unforgivable blunders were virtually non-existent. Yet Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco, the official who took charge of Germany against Serbia, clearly let the occasion get the better of him in a ludicrous display that unnecessarily spoilt the game and queered the pitch for the Germans. Miroslav Klose’s sending off in the first half was totally risible, as he picked up two bookings for a pair of purely accidental, meek challenges as he attempted to track his opponent and win the ball back for his side. In the ten or so minutes beforehand the referee had, for whatever reason, taken leave of his senses and harshly booked four other players in a bizarre, card-happy frenzy. Overall, he brandished nine yellow cards and one red in the game.
The Spaniard’s performance would have been slightly less offensive if he had exercised some sort of consistency, but having booked Klose on the two only occasions he committed a foul, and then clearly indicating on his fingers that he was booking Bastian Schweinsteiger in the second period for a collection of four separate offences, as well as failing to even reach for a yellow card when Per Mertesacker rather recklessly went through the back of Nicola Zigic, the players must have found it hard to respect him. It was more than evident Mick McCarthy, who is working as a co-commentator for the BBC during the tournament, did not think much of the referee. In probably the best snippet of commentary in the competition thus far, the Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, in his broad Yorkshire accent and no-nonsense fashion, claimed: ‘the man’s a clown’, as he dismissed Klose.
Undiano Mallenco’s rather baffling refereeing and the fact he handed out 11 red cards in just 17 La Liga matches last season raises some important questions. The World Cup should surely be officiated by the greatest, most experienced referees in the world. So why has Undiano Mallenco only refereed 17 La Liga matches during the 2009/10 campaign? Furthermore, his record of 11 red cards in those games surely suggests he has a penchant for ruining perfectly good clashes through a fussy and pedantic style. So why is he allowed to officiate at the World Cup? FIFA must understand the World Cup is the ne plus ultra of a player’s career, so why let referees with such a style plunge a knife into the heart of players by unnecessarily depriving them of future appearances? It is certainly rather confounding to this writer, and FIFA need to have a look at referees such as Undiano Mallenco. It will be interesting to keep an eye on his future appointments at the tournament – if there indeed are any.
Koman Coulibaly was another referee who came under scrutiny yesterday, as he controversially ruled out a potential winner for the United States in their thrilling contest with Slovenia. His award of a free-kick to the Slovenians as Maurice Edu volleyed home from a Landon Donovon set-piece was anything but. The goal should have either been permitted, or Coulibaly should have awarded the USA a penalty, as it was the Slovenian defenders, not the American attackers, who seemed keen on declaring a WWE-style King of the Ring bout with their wrestling moves.
Mr Coulibaly’s performance however, was blighted by that incident and decision alone, and it is much easier, of course, to decipher who was holding on to whom in that kind of melee with the aid of television replays. However, trying to tell that to the Americans would probably not go down too well if they do not progress to the last 16. Mr Undiano Mallenco on the other hand will do well to reassess his refereeing style. Let’s hope this kind of display becomes an anomaly. Today’s competing teams will most certainly be hoping so.