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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Spain loafed through this Cup. I liked them going in, but they were undistinguished in the first round, losing to Switzerland, beating Honduras 2-0, and giving up a goal to Chile in a 2-1 win. I don't see how they can get past Germany.

Uruguay's decision to play volleyball against Ghana was unsporting, even though it was what an economist would call a rational choice. CLA is (still) angry about it. There is an interesting discussion about whether the handball was "cheating" here. I'd say that the rule works the way it ought to. An automatic red card and a penalty kick is a pretty serious sanction, particularly since there is the discretion to suspend the offending player for two games instead of just one. Apparently penalty kicks are converted to goals over three quarters of the time; Ghana had its shot, and didn't make it. The only tweaks to the rule that I can come up with create their own problems. You could, I suppose, increase the punishment by obliging the offending team to play its next match shorthanded; alternatively you could have the official simply award the goal. The former seems disproportionally harsh, and the latter seems to me to invest the ref with too much discretion. Points should be scored by the players, not awarded by the referee.

The Dutch look like sleepers to me. They've played tough, and they've looked good, but they've also snuck up on the tournament. Beating Brazil is their big credential, obviously, just as Germany's win over Argentina established the Germans as something more than bullies beating up the Socceroos. I'm sticking with the Orange to win it all.

| Comments:
Rugby allows a referee to award a penalty try, which is even more speculative. I'm pretty sure hockey allows the award of a penalty goal as well.
 

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