Talking heads in the Mexican Media rarely say anything nice about Mexican futbol. I always joke that they would somehow find fault with Mexico winning a World Cup. But when it comes to complaining about Mexican futbol, they fall over themselves in their quest to be the pithiest.
The latest group to receive the "scourge of the windbag" was the referees. Now. it's not to say that the refs didn't deserve it. 2 dubious decisions, had a direct influence on the results of two games over the weekend. The first, a non-call when the ball went over the end line ended up with the ball in the back of the net in Tigres' 1-0 victory over Queretaro. The other, a penalty on a hand ball against Toluca when the ball had struck the choricero defender's chest let America escape with a 1-1 draw at the Azteca.
Both plays were awful. i don't think anyone will argue against that. but the windbags will have you think that those kinds of decisions only happen in Mexico, and certainly not in Europe, where, of course, everything, including the refereeing, is better. The Europhiles in the Mexican press make passionate arguments about how Mexican refereeing is the worst in the world, and Europe's is the best. Are they right? Hardly.
Most of us have watched enough soccer over the years that we can say that dubious decisions come to pass on a weekly basis all over the world. And it's not just soccer where the refs get it wrong.
It so happens that the two plays in Mexico went in favor of the current champions and Club America.
Cue the tinfoil hat brigade.
Anytime Club America lands on the generous side of the said dubious decision. The conspiracy theorists, led by lifelong miso-amercanista Jose Ramon Fernandez, come out of the woodwork to allege that the refs are, and always have been, in Televisa's pocket.
One would think that if that were the case, then Club America would be doing a little better in the league title department, in which they have only collected 2 in the past 20 years.
Of course, I could say that refs are only human and not perfect, they make mistakes just like everyione else, yada yada yada. It's all true, just as it is that refs are evaluated after every game. They are rewarded or penalized accordingly. Case in point, Chiquidracula was suspended for 5 games after his hideous, attention-grabbing performance in last season's final. He is sitting out 5 games *(interesting point of reference - a German ref who also showed 2 yellow cards simultaneously got 6 months).
So how does Mexican refereeing stack up with the rest of the world? My own, personal, non-scientific observation: Quite well. One big difference: Mexican refs go to cards much faster and more often. Imagine Chiquidracula reffing an EPL game. How many players would be left on the pitch?
But they must be doing something right. The last two World Cups have seen 2 sets of Mexican refs handle games. Armando Archundia, in particular, has acquitted himself very well, and his performance during the 2006 Germany-Italy semi-final was the finest of his career.
In conclusion, Mexican refereeing is not as bad as some will have you think, much to the chagrin of the windbags in the Mexican Media.