Plenty of blame to go around

GEORGE GROSS

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Having watched the Argentina-Chile under-20 World Cup semi-final on Thursday night at Toronto's National Soccer Stadium, my thoughts went back to an old movie.

It was called Gilda and it starred the lovely Rita Hayworth who sang: "Put the blame on Mame, boys, put the blame on Mame."

Following the post-game ruckus and ensuing police action against Chilean officials and players, it is important to establish who to put the blame on for an incident that will give the city, the province, the country and Canadian soccer an international black eye.

For this fiasco, Rita would have had to change the lyrics to read: "Put the blame on the boys, Mame, put the blame on the boys."

If you ask me, most of the blame for the skirmish after the game should rest squarely on the shoulders of Chile's players and the coaching staff.

Regardless of what happened in the game -- a 3-0 loss to Argentina -- regardless of how ineffective the referee from Germany was, there is just no way that players, coaches or fans should threaten any FIFA-appointed whistle-tooter.

So, put the blame on the red-shirted Chilean contingent and its players, who vandalized their buses, hurled objects out of the broken windows, physically abused Toronto police, and displayed their inability to swallow a bitter defeat.

For my money, the Chileans deserve whatever punishment FIFA hands out to them because there is no excuse for swarming a game official.

However, that all said, the Chileans can't be fingered exclusively for the unnecessary commotion that has marred an otherwise fine global competition.

There is one other obvious candidate: Herr Wolfgang Stark, the so-called FIFA international referee who made a mockery of the match by handing out two red cards to Chile, thus forcing them to play 75 minutes with only 10 players and the final 13 minutes with only nine.

And that is not to mention the nine yellow cards he handed out, seven of them going to Chile.

One could understand the frustration of the Chilean players and officials. They clearly saw their own player kick at an Argentine opponent, but also clearly saw that he never connected.

They also saw that same blue and white shirted Argentine player kick first, but fail to connect, as well.

At worst, both players should have been sent off -- the Argentine player more so, because he faked an injury, holding his face that never felt a Chilean boot. Instead, the Chilean received the only red card.

Several Argentina players spent every opportunity during the game writhing on the ground, appearing mortally wounded, after a Chilean player barely breathed on them.

Nonetheless, when the magic sponge of the trainer was applied or the stretchers arrived, the Argentines were suddenly healed and sprinting back into action.

But Stark didn't see it all and even Craig Forrest, honorary chairman of the tournament and a former standout Canadian goalkeeper and television commentator, expressed his disappointment in the referee's performance.

Finally, there is FIFA. It should have examined Stark and some of the other referees before allowing them to embark on such an important global championship.

At the very least, FIFA could have reinforced to the officials the difference between a dive and a foul. But I'm not sure if some of those referees could handle a soccer match of 10-year-olds.

Perhaps, FIFA president Sepp Blatter will read this and look into it. I can't ask him to since his press secretary doesn't allow him to speak to the press without an explanation of why you are calling.

But then again, Stark had no explanation either for what he was calling.

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

FIFA invited former Canadian Soccer Association director general, Kevin Pipe, to be its weekend guest for the windup of the U-20 World Cup. Pipe deserves it because it was he who sold FIFA on the idea to hold the tournament in Canada before he was relieved of his duties.


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