The ESPN Experts Beg to Differ

Having thought that the "controversy" regarding Holland's first goal vs. Italy yesterday was over and done with, I was surprised to hear from the Television team of Gray & Dimwit that it's still raging.

In case you didn't see it; well, tough luck. UEFA has put a clamp on video reproductions that makes a Federal Supermax look like your local PreSchool. So it won't be popping up on YouTube anytime soon.

The best I can find is this .gif, which was posted on the BIGSOCCER REFEREE FORUM WHERE THEY"RE STILL HAVING A FINE TIME FIGURATIVELY HOLLERING AT EACH OTHER by "code1390":

As you can see, the circumstances are quite simple (maybe not as simple as Julie Foudy, but almost):

The Italain Goalkeeper (Buffon) punches the ball near the right goalpost and, as keepers will do, in the process he slams into one of his own defenders (Panucci), knocking him to the ground five to ten feet beyond the end line.

Panucci remained there on the ground (he may still be there - I'm not sure anyone has checked) while the ball rebounded to a Dutch guy (van Bronkhurst) who gave it a good crack goalward where, before entering the goal itself it ricocheted off the foot of Rudd vanNistelroy.

It is clear that - Panucci and the other 73,000 people in the building who also aren't actually on the field of play aside - vanNistelroy has only Buffon standing between him and the goal when he hits it. No question about it.

So when the ball enters the goal, Holland doesn't immediately celebrate; everyone from both sides turns and looks at the Assistant Referee, who does not raise his flag signaling offside.

The goal stands.

UEFA has since confirmed that in their opinion, which is not the same as speaking for FIFA, the referee was correct. Despite the fact that the Italian player is in no way "actively involved" in the play and has, in fact, left the field of play, and is lying in a crumpled heap on the ground behind the end line, he nevertheless counts as the "second defender" required to keep the attacker onside.

Andy Gray begs to differ. He says he's talked to virtually every single human being in England, players, coaches, referees and, presumably, Prince Phillip, and they all agree that the call is rubbish.

ESPN dug up someone named Dave Roberts, who is a FIFA referee and who, due to his lack of seniority is forced to sit next to Julie, who also says this call is hogwash.

(Is it just me or does she seem drunk today? She's acting like Paula Abdul, giggling and preening for the camera. I keep waiting for Andy Gray to say "You know, Dude, it was just alright for me; you got a little pitchy in the middle)

Nobody is going to change the call and Italy, to their credit, isn't blaming the loss on it, but apparently the hollering and yelling isn't over yet.