Neutrals, Media Lose Sight of Proper Balance
By Alex Fairchild
Every football fan has a bias. For that matter bias is a part of the human condition.
However, the world of football have become entrenched in a world of hypocrisy far too deep. While cheering for the underdog is all well and good, it must be done and handled with class. Malaga CF had handled their ride to the Champions League quarterfinals with aplomb until their tragic defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
The German side were unlucky not to bury their La Liga opponents in the opening leg, and it took a parked bus in front of 'die Südtribüne' from Malaga to keep them from conceding to the home side.
Dortmund's comeback was one of the great sporting miracles of our time. However, their drive to survival has been trimmed in legitimacy by Malaga and the outcry of football fans worldwide. Seeing the drive forward which culminated in Eliseu's controversial finish, was devastating, as the more talented club would cease, at that point, to go through. While the goal would have been hard enough to swallow if the play was fair, it was more difficult to see Dortmund nearly go out of the competition on a botched call.
After a theft in midfield by the rising Isco, Baptista's foray saw him pick out a teammate obviously in an offside position. The substitute whom he found in front of goal knew his strike was not valid. His calm finish is followed by a seemingly awestruck gaze, in which he figures the linesman has raised his flag. Eliseu must have been shocked and acted as if he was. Had Malaga gone through on that goal, one must ask if the Spanish would be calling on UEFA to investigate their refereeing - I doubt they would.
Since the high drama at Westfalenstadion ensued, much of the officiating criticism has been put on the night's crew due to their poor offside decision previous Borussia's scrappy third. While accusations of physical play are also at the forefront of the discussion, those calls are not set in stone as an offside call is. Pictures show that four Dortmund players are offside on the free kick, which led to a Brazilian backs goal. In addition, Felipe Santana, said defender, may have been in violation of the same rule while in the act of smashing away the winner.
Poetic justice anyone?
With news of Malaga's formal complaint imminent, one must wonder whether or not the accuser's second will be taken into consideration during a possible UEFA investigation. On both ends of the pitch, the linesmen made poor decisions, which should see their right to officiate matches of such high standing stripped. While it is often said that the best official stays out of the match, this crew has taken that thought to a new level.
I am not asking the club to plead the fifth, though they must realize their wrongdoing. The emotional destruction a loss of such magnitude provides is something beyond misery. Perhaps even more so, as the secret of Malaga has been shown to the world. It is only a matter of time before the team's young stars head elsewhere. However, the same could be said for Dortmund. Despite winning consecutive titles, the players will always look for continental success. Had Dortmund failed to win, it is possible that Mario Gotze and Marco Reus would not be suiting up in the yellow of BVB come this time next year. However, there is still no place to launch as a shoddy call could have seen them through to the semi-final. This goes both ways, and would apply to Dortmund too, presuming that they were eliminated in this fashion.
With so much on the line and the neutral pulling for the underdog, it is no wonder that many on Twitter, as well as those in the media, were sensitive to the elimination of the beachside team. However, much ado came over the latter goal and not of Dortmund's shocking defensive display. While all the attention has gone to the Spanish side, the character of Dortmund cannot go missing - though it has, lost in criticism over those final minutes.
Imagine the frustration the German side must have felt. Through two matches they had been the superior side, yet nothing was falling for them. Gotze's shot, which was inches from the net, had Willy not got a toe on the ball, would have prevented the above from occurring and occurred just moments before they conceded. They had incurred such an unlucky stretch and their being wronged on Eliseu's goal should have stomped out their hope.
However, it did not. Dortmund's resolve was sensational. Fighting back from such injustice is something few are able to achieve. These boys could have dropped their heads and gone through the motions, then claimed themselves victims of the officials, much like Malaga have.
The back four of the La Liga side broke down. Dortmund had tired them. Had Malaga deserved to advance, they would not have conceded two in quick succession. If they really should have gone through, they would have cleared their lines. Despite their efforts, Dortmund have received little love.
Paris Saint-Germaine earned similar treatment after their 1-1 draw with Barcelona. The pride of France's capital went out on the away goals rule, though their efforts have gone in vain, as the bandwagon jumpers and sensationalists have hailed the influence of Lionel Messi. Had one not been aware of the away goals rule, they would look at the 3-3 aggregate scoreline and call the matches even - but if you listened to reports on the match it would seem like another Barca blowout.
It is safe to say that if time reversed the situation, the horror of Barca's departure would be hyped in the papers come the following day. The number of people calling for the repeal of the away goals rule would skyrocket. While the outdated rule may be the talk of Paris the rest of the world will ignore the substance of the result and continue to praise FCB.
In our quest to become more intelligent and logical connoisseurs of the beautiful game, let us look at both sides equally.
It is not just the fans, but it is also the media. The mainstream should not cheapen Dortmund's achievement, nor should it give attention to the disgraceful Malaga man who has blamed his team's demise on racism, though it is too late for that. Again, had the status quo gone unchanged from the 82nd minute on that man would not be making his disgraceful pleas. A simple message to Malaga and their sympathizers is that the blue and white striped side lost. They were not up to the quality and fortitude of BVB.
Take this as a call to a higher moral standard if you like, or just brush it off as a piece written by a delusional 17 year old, who would love to live in a utopia. However, it is just one reasonable person asking for a change in the attitude, heart, and mind of the neutral those who bring football to us.