the fourth referee
Here I am at home, with a pot of coffee, biscuits, and the TV on, about to watch the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final between Germany and Brazil. It’s just starting, and the first letdown is that Scottish referee Hugh Dallas didn’t get the final, but has instead been relegated to the “fourth official” role. The fourth official’s other main roles are to keep the team management in line, decide how much injury time to add on, and deal with any other queries. If anything happens to Pierluigi Collina, Dallas will take his place. I have no problem with Collina, though, you don’t get to referee a World Cup Final without being extremely good and experienced, and your whole professional record undergoes intense scrutiny beforehand. Once you’ve seen Collina, you never forget him – totally bald, with aquiline features and bulging eyes. He reminds me of one of the Mekons from the original Star Trek, the ones that gave me nightmares as a 3-year old.15 minutes in, and the Germans are being given more space than they’re entitled to, I can see a goal coming if this keeps up…
Half-time, no score, but near the end of the half the Brazilians started punching holes in the German midfield and finding only the goalkeeper in their way. At least three chances have gone begging, but Oliver Kahn continues to exert the powerful presence he’s shown all tournament. He’s just saved the Germans again, possibly injuring his hand in the process… no he’s OK, we think. Real “end-to-end” stuff, both sides making real goal chances.
66th minute, and Ronaldo has scored for Brazil, after a mistake by Kahn, who couldn’t quite hang on to the greasy ball.
77th minute, and this time Ronaldo has created a brilliant goal of his own, Germany are not likely to come back from this without really digging in and creating their own luck. These goals also give Ronaldo the “Golden Boot” award for highest scorer of the tournament. Compared to the histrionics he displayed at the last World Cup, this time he just got on and did what was asked of him. This also brings him level with Pelé as Brazil’s top World Cup striker, with 12 goals.
No, while Germany came closer and closer in the last few minutes, Brazil have won their fifth World Cup, the game ending 2-0. Considering Germany weren’t seriously expected to get anywhere near the final, this is a great achievement for coach Rudi Voeller, a former player himself. They were accused of being boring a few weeks ago, but got more interesting the longer they stayed in the tournament.
A great game, one of the best World Cup finals in years. Here in Ireland, it’s been football madness, with Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, in particular, all over the media, once the Roy Keane fuss had died down. The people I work with are drawn from all across Europe, and all games were shown in our canteen, using a projector, so most lunchtimes were a little excitable. Even I’ve enjoyed a few games, especially interesting ones such as the final.
Still, thank goodness it’s all over, eh?