Time-wasting controversies FIFA’s own doing

When it comes to football there are three simple results. You either win, lose, or draw. You might go through a whole season without losing a game, as Arsenal did back in the 2003/04 season, but I’ve yet to see a team win every one of its games in top level sports. Nobody likes losing and most people don’t like drawing either, but it’s how you handle the disappointments that define you as a player and a person.

Wigan captain Gary Caldwell wasn’t happy with the conduct of Robin van Persie after his team’s 2-1 win over the Gunners on Monday night at Emirates Stadium, and rightfully so. Van Persie refused to shake Caldwell’s hand after the game and was clearly seen pushing him way as the Wigan player attempted to approach the Dutch striker.

Football is already full of team loads of prima donnas and it’s a shame that such an excellent player as Van Persie acted so childish after the game. Whatever Van Persie’s reasons were, there’s not really any excuse to lower yourself to that level in public. Perhaps he’s been paying too much attention to his manager Arsene Wenger, who also embarrassed himself and the club by berating the fourth official throughout the game. What’s the point? He’s not the one refereeing the game.

There are those who’ll stick up for Wenger and Van Persie no matter what they do and will come up with endless excuses for their behavior, but there aren’t any that make sense. Caldwell said Van Persie has to show some dignity when losing even if he was disappointed at the result. He’s on the pitch representing the football club not just himself.

Wenger also refused to shake Wigan manager Roberto Martinez’s hand after the game as he said Martinez was busy shaking the hands of his assistants. But while Wenger and Van Persie should be held accountable for their reactions, this problem, as with most problems in football can be traced back to FIFA. Wenger was clearly upset because he felt Wigan was wasting time and spent about 89 out of the 90 minutes ranting and raving at the fourth official.

But FIFA invites this type of endless controversy with just about every rule they make. There’s supposedly a simple solution already in place concerning time wasting, which is for the referee to add it on at the end of the game. However, this rarely happens and football teams and fans are cheated week after week. If the wasted time was added onto the end of the matches the way it’s supposed to be, we’d be looking at 120-minute games each week.

As far as I know, football is the only “timed” sport on the planet that doesn’t have the sense to use an official clock. If they want to get rid of time-wasting tactics the answer’s right in front of their eyes. This would be to use an official clock which is stopped whenever the ball is out of play or a player’s rolling around with a feigned injury and then start it up when the game resumes, like all other sports do. There’s no need for crying and whining to fourth officials and the controversies will stop instantly.

The way it is now, and always has been, there’s no accountability and the referee has the power to blow full time whenever he feels like it. Anyway, if we get on the topic of FIFA ruining football we’d be here all day. Either way, Caldwell said Van Persie’s a great player and he voted for him to win the PFA player of the year award and is certain he’ll walk away with it on the weekend. He just said he understood Van Persie’s feelings at the time, but was disappointed in the way the great player reacted and I can see his point, Arsenal supporter or not.

 


From Peterborough, just about 60 minutes from Arsenal's ground. I remember going to Highbury when growing up and after my Uncle's stepson Mark Heeley joined the Gunners from Peterborough when he was just 17 back in the 1970s. Currently cover sports (mainly football, boxing, and ice hockey) for various sites and magazines. Still see most of the games when in Canada. In fact, they get more EPL matches there than in Britain.