Originally Posted by Living Proof
With the caveat that I know next to nothing about soccer and how the game is refereed, I am in the camp that advocates just letting the players play the game and not having it decided by a referee. As long as it's fair to each side, the refs should maintain a very low profile. Yes, there are some things that are so obvious and blatant that they must be called, but the small rules, who cares as long as it's consistent. It appears to me that soccer at this level is an extremely difficult sport for one ref to get right all the time.
I was totally absorbed by the US vs Canada game, my highlight of the Olympics to-date.
It was a great game, too bad it was marred by the referee not having a low profile. Unfortunately that is what happens when you "let them play" a little too much. The best refs establish control early: they draw the line, and don't let the players cross it; the players will generally fall into place after that.( It's kind of like parenting. ;-) )Instead, Pedersen let them play a little too much, and they kept pushing her and pushing her, til she hit her limit. Then she basically said, "Enough!" and started calling a bunch of seemingly borderline stuff. And that is confusing, because it is so inconsistent, and then everyone cries foul. You just have to be consistent. (See, like parenting!)
And the first priority is safety, so as far as "let them play," well, to an extent. You can get some pretty good injuries out there, though, especially with unprotected heads, so at this point I'm happy to have them err on the side of caution as long as they are consistent. Inconsistency is really the biggest problem I've seen.
Japan won't play like Canada, they are highly skilled, smaller, and there is much more respect between the two teams. It should be a great final.