Conspiracy theorists and fatalists, eyes forward, if you please. FIFA has named the referee for the England-USA "Hogwarts faculty vs. Hogwarts corporate parent company" smashup on Saturday, and he is a doozy: Carlos Simon, the controversial Brazilian who sent off Sweden's Teddy Lučić against Germany in '06 for tenderly brushing a loose blade of grass off Miroslav Klose's shirt.
You might remember the scene. Lučić tugged Klose's sleeve with the savage violence of a butterfly grazing the petal of a flower. Some German players ran at the referee screaming and holding up imaginary cards. And Simon, grinning dementedly, withdrew the second yellow and showed Lučić his marching orders.
Good thing the U.S. team doesn't have a history of players being shipped off for fouling in big games, right? And by the same token, it's not as if any England players have a history of surrounding, bullying, screaming at, or otherwise endeavoring to intimidate the referee. What's that you say — cough, John Terry, cough? Oh, right. This could be ugly.
I've made certain comments in the past about how I like bad calls, so I guess I can't get too worked up about this. Still, when I wrote those words, I wasn't expecting FIFA to give this week's version of the biggest game of all time to a guy whom one Brazilian soccer executive once called "unambiguously inconsistent, unfair and inequitable," whom another Brazilian soccer executive once called "a crook, scoundrel and a bastard," and who was banned for six weeks last year amid persistent allegations of corruption.
Well, we'll see. As Jason Davis pointed out Monday morning, there are players on the U.S. team who speak Simon's language (Benny Feilhaber is fluent in Portuguese, and several other players speak Spanish, as does Simon, apparently), so maybe that will make a difference. Or else, who knows, maybe the game will be decided by one team being better at soccer. That would be interesting.
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