The phantom foul, from every angle

"I’m telling my dad. And he’s our coach. And he’ll get you fired because you’re terrible," yelled Michael Bradley. (AP Photo by Martin Meissner)

Now I’m not the type to chastise sports officials. They have one of the world’s worst jobs when it comes to succeeding in the eyes of those who watch them. And you’ll never hear me call out a local official. I know most of those guys (and gals) personally and consider many of them friends. 

But, when you’re an official at international level, the type of performance exhibited by U.S.-Slovenia World Cup head referee Koman Coulibaly that led to the 2-2 draw is just downright shameful.

Here is a video (watch it while you can) of the phantom foul that was apparently called on would-be goal-scorer Maurice Edu. You don’t even have to watch the video that closely to see that Edu not only scored a clean goal, he barely even touched anyone on his way to doing so. If anything, Slovenia should have been called for not one, but two fouls for obviously holding players inside the box, which would have brought forth a U.S. penalty kick had we not scored. And you’ve got to feel for Edu. That’s a career-making goal if it’s allowed. It would have not only been the first time in several years that the U.S. would have come back from a 2-0 deficit to win a game, it would have likely propelled them onto the next round and made Edu go from a rising star to a hero.

If England fails to prevail against Algeria and Slovenia and the U.S. can’t beat Algeria — England needs to win both and the U.S. needs the win to advance to the knockout round — and the U.S. gets ousted from the World Cup because of this, then FIFA is going to have a lot of explaining to do to the country who has given them more money than they’re worth in order to expand the coverage of this event to unimaginable new levels. 

FIFA needs to apologize to the U.S. national team and their fans for allowing this official to dictate the game in the manner that he did. Yahoo! Sports soccer analyst Eric Wynalda, the first American player ejected from a World Cup game, agrees and even suggests that Coulibaly officiated as if he was on the take in this game.

UPDATE: It sounds like FIFA is responding and will be sitting Couibaly for the rest of the World Cup. It still doesn’t give the U.S. the three points it deserved but it’s a consolation if nothing else.


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