The first few games of the World Cup have brought us a refreshing blend of attractive football, shocks and sensational goals. There was certainly a noticeable absence of the less desirable elements of football. We even had some cracking refereeing decisions, although we also had some baffling ones and there was the introduction of the spray foam that has been embraced by one and all, except the odd player who baulked at the idea of his sponsors’ boots having the white stuff all over them – move your feet then I say. But then Wilson Palacios of Honduras decided enough was enough and let’s bring the level of the game an awful lot lower.
France started very well and most observers thought, mmmmm, looks like we could get a good showing this time around from the team that covered itself with disgrace at the last World Cup. Instead the disgrace belongs to one of the Honduran players, Wilson Palacios.
The robust midfielder has always been a hard working if not pedestrian player, one who would always be committed to the cause. Unfortunately, despite FIFA’s high profile RESPECT campaign Wilson’s quest on Sunday seemed to be targeting France’s talented though erratic midfielder Paul Pogba. It was a running battle from the off and one which erupted just before the half hour.
Palacios clashed with Pogba and proceeded to kick him, stamp on him and then rake his studs down the Frenchman’s leg, three attacks for the price of one. Pogba, as he spun around on the ground swung his right leg, through momentum it seemed to be to me, and caught the Honduran. Palacios reacted as if hit by the mysterious ‘sniper’ who seems to be everywhere these days.
‘He has to be sent off’ screamed the commentator ‘if the referee has seen that’. It’s doubtful if the referee could have missed it as the incident happened in front of him though that is not always a bonus. Sandro Ricci of Brazil waited until Palacios rose miraculously from his stretcher (roundly booed by the crowd) and promptly booked the Stoke City player. What fate awaited Pogba – Yellow card and relief all round though one feels that it wasn’t the result Palacios anticipated from his concerted campaign to rile the young Frenchman. A word of praise for the referee and let’s hope that his superiors see the merits of the common sense showed by Mr Ricci in keeping the contest 11v11.
It’s a pity that Mr Palacios did not have the same motivation, keeping it 11v11
I mean but of course that was never going to happen. And as if ordained by the gods sitting on football’s Mount Olympus so it came to pass.
As the game drifted towards half-time goalless, despite French superiority, Senor Palacios continued winding up Monsieur Pogba, and the disaster waiting to happen finally happened after 40 minutes. The ball went into the Honduran penalty area and Pogba skilfully took the ball on his chest at which point Palacios shoulder charged him in the back and knocked him to the ground. penalty, Mr Ricci signalled without hesitation. His next act was to brandish a second yellow and Wilson’s game was over, and up, and probably his World Cup to boot.
Justice prevailed, a cheat was ejected from the game and his remaining 10 team mates were resoundingly beaten 3-0.
I call that a result, for respect and fair play.