The Beautiful Game

The World Cup is finally over. No more late nights and dreary eyes; now we can all go back to our normal lives.

I don’t bet on soccer, but I sure know of many who do — and the stakes involved are huge. Let’s take a moment and consider this. The 2006 World Cup is expected to become the biggest betting event in history, with an estimated $18 billion worth of bets placed worldwide. And according to a study commissioned by Singapore Pools, illegal bookmakers aka our friendly neighbourhood bookies commanded an estimated 80 percent of the soccer betting market in Singapore.

Now, with so much money involved, it’s hard to believe that the Mafia and their counterparts in other countries will simply let the ball roll around along with their fortunes. I could be completely wrong on this one; but who can forget Andreas Escobar, who was murdered after he scored an own goal in the 1994 World Cup that sent the Columbians home early; and I’m sure it’s pure coincidence that Italy won the World Cup amid match fixing scandal again — just like in 1982.

FIFA isn’t exactly sending out reassuring signals by refusing replay technology either:

So let me get this straight. The World Cup has millions of RFID embedded tickets, biometric face scanning, on-the-fly fingerprinting and ASENDRO robots, but they won't use a replay technology because it isn't perfected yet?

The governing body’s president Sepp Blatter said that football must have a "human face" and "human error" to go along with it, but why punish a country for one referee’s lazy eye or his previous night out in the Hanover red-light district? Maybe FIFA should take a hint from their fellow American football brethren and start using replays. There are 800 different camera positions at each game this year, surely one of which will give a clear angle of the questionable play or goal.

Why, you might ask, do I continue watching soccer if it is kelong? Soccer matches may have fixed outcomes; but just like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

You didn’t see Zizou’s head butt coming, did you?

15 July 2006 · Money, Sports

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