Matthew Taro will become the first Solomon Islander to officiate at a World Cup finals match when he takes to the field in South Africa. I think it’s great that referees from around the world get the chance to take part. Despite years of experience, far too many European refs still get it wrong. Unfortunately, Taro has a special relationship with God. That worries me. I don’t care how omnipotent and all-seeing He is. When it comes to difficult decisions I’ll take video technology over God any day. You have to wonder to what extent Taro relies on his imaginary friend for guidance when faced by a tough call. Not too much, I hope.
While I’m on the subject of God, this article says the Catholic Church in South Africa “prepared a special prayer for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.” Disappointingly, it doesn’t start “Our Father, who wears number 7, blessed be thy game.” Talk about a missed opportunity. Still, this is a wacky Russian website, so there are lots of unusual tales to take your mind off the Catholic Church’s sense of humour failure: “Sheep gives birth to human-faced lamb.”
Back to refs now. The one who allowed Thierry Henry to play Handball during the play off against Ireland apparently has a chance to redeem himself this summer. Swede Martin Hansson caused the biggest storm of the qualifiers by missing Henry’s juggling act. There is no truth to the rumour that Irish fans are planning to target Hansson’s games by turning up and waving gigantic Kenny Everett-style hands.
It seems the Aussies are bracing themselves for problems ahead as injuries to key players mount in the run up to the World Cup. And the situation could get worse before it gets better, if this report is any guide. How else should we interpret the following statement? “Harry Kewell's latest battle with a groin problem is not as bad as first thought.” I give the ex-Premiership slacker forty five minutes in a World Cup game before he is substituted because his hair band keeps falling out of place.
And the answer to Friday’s “Did you know?” question (Which two players have featured in five World Cups?): Antonio Carbajal (Mexico, 1950 - 1966) and Lothar Matthaus (Germany, 1982 - 1998).