The Zidane Finale; the Akan People of Ghana Have Canonised the Idea of Cause and Effect with a Proverb That Says: "If Nothing Had Gone and Stamped on the Dried Palm Leaf, It Would Not Have Crackled Noisily" (Biribi Ankoka Papa a, Enka Ennye Twereder)

By Duodu, Cameron | New African, August-September 2006 | Go to article overview

The Zidane Finale; the Akan People of Ghana Have Canonised the Idea of Cause and Effect with a Proverb That Says: "If Nothing Had Gone and Stamped on the Dried Palm Leaf, It Would Not Have Crackled Noisily" (Biribi Ankoka Papa a, Enka Ennye Twereder)


Duodu, Cameron, New African


I would be a hypocrite if I did not admit that my interest in the World Cup waned the moment Brazil kicked Ghana out of the tournament. It wasn't that I expected Ghana to win by all means. No, what I didn't expect was that Brazil would win with goals, some of which were offside. The refereeing of some of the World Cup matches was indeed atrocious. The yellow card which kept Michael Essien out of the Ghana side, for instance, was criticised even by the American coach, Bruce Arena--against whose team Essien was playing when he got the card. Arena, said he thought Essien's tackle had been a "fair" one.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I think the time has come for Fifa to introduce video replays to assist referees in the same way that video is now regularly used to help cricket umpires decide whether a player is in, or out, after an alleged runout or stumping; whether the ball had crossed the boundary and was therefore to be considered as having earned the batter four runs, or six runs, as the case might be; and whether a catch was indeed a good catch or had been "dropped".

Now, when the idea of using video replays in cricket matches was first mooted, it was argued that cricket was already a very slow game and that video replays would slow it down even more. But cricket spectators have now got to appreciate the usefulness of video replays, which have put an end to arguments that formerly used to cause a lot of friction between umpires and players, and, of course, between the respective spectators of the different countries engaged in Test Matches.

If cricket, which is supposed to be a more "conservative" game than football, is allowing itself to benefit from modern advances in technology, why should football turn its back on such advances? The argument that camera replays would slow the game down does not hold water. After all, when a player goes down, claiming to be injured, play is stopped, and the time consumed in attending to the injured player is added to the period allotted to the game.

A video replay to determine whether the ball did touch someone's hand or arm; whether the whole circumference of the ball had entered the net and a goal had therefore been scored; whether a player flagged as being offside by one of the assistant referees was indeed offside; whether a fallen player had been cut down or had dived--these and other contentious decisions can be referred to an umpire closeted in the video room, in much the same way as is done at cricket matches.

One more argument in favour of employing video at football matches is that even in America, where the attention span of spectators is deemed to be unusually scanty, (and where commercial "spots" on TV during a match are also extremely valuable), televised matches are regularly stopped whilst umpires iron out difficult decisions.

American football goes through scores of stoppages; so do basketball and baseball. If stoppages can be tolerated in the home of the "quick-fix", how much more in football, and the World Cup at that, where an estimated two billion people from all over the world, and from all walks of life, can be expected to watch the final match, and therefore every decision must not only be correct, but, like Caesar's wife, be seen to be correct?

My unhappiness at the refereeing was, of course, to be dwarfed, in the final, by the controversy surrounding Zinedine Zidane's head-butting of the Italian player, Marco Materazzi, just when the match was about to reach its climax of penalties. This was the most unkindest cut of all. Having lost Ghana in the tournament, I was rooting for the French team, because it had so many African-descended players in it and represented to every black person, the type of team that we knew would exist in every country with a mixed population, were there to be no racial prejudice in the world.

If you doubt that racial discrimination exists in football, ask yourself: How is it that it was only since 1998 that France discovered that it had so many excellent black players? …

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The Zidane Finale; the Akan People of Ghana Have Canonised the Idea of Cause and Effect with a Proverb That Says: "If Nothing Had Gone and Stamped on the Dried Palm Leaf, It Would Not Have Crackled Noisily" (Biribi Ankoka Papa a, Enka Ennye Twereder)
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