Thursday, April 30, 2009

This Is Somehow Howard Webb's Fault

Sure this took place in Malawi but this screw up is so monumental, that we're not entirely sure we can be certain it doesn't contain Webb's fingerprints. Plus it involves penalties.

Last week the MTL Wanderers beat ESCOM United 4-2 to win the Bingu Wa Mutharika Cup.

Seems straightforward enough right? Outscore the other team, win the Cup. That's how soccer works.

Oh silly reader. How little you know about Malawian football.

At the end of regulation, the two teams were tied 1-1. But, regulation was only 80 minutes, which, as this match recap points out, is totally copacetic in soccer provided both teams agree to it ahead of time (although said recap never states whether it was indeed agreed to ahead of time).

So the whistle blows and the teams are tied. The two teams go to penalties to settle the matter of the cup.

After four kicks, Escom had converted one and had three saved.

After three kicks, SF MTL had converted two and missed one.

Before MTL Wanderers took their fourth penalty referee Webb Verson Lwanja blew the whistle and handed MTL Wanderers the trophy. Thus marking the first time United was ever screwed by a referee's decision. Zing!

Bet anything Lwanja was also the kid in middle school who said in math class, "When am I ever going to need to use this in real life?" Turns out it's probably integral to his job as, according to this page on World Referee, he's also the head of Malawi's Referee Association

Do some maths. If ESCOM United save the MTL Wanderers remaining two kicks and convert their remaining penalty, we're looking at being level 2-2 after five kicks... unless they also agreed to shorten penalties the way they may (or may not) have agreed to shorten the match (which they didn't).

The linked piece also points out that ESCOM didn't protest the decision at the time, speculating, "possibly because the President of the Republic of Malawi was in attendance." The President is Bingu Wa Mutharika, the guy whose name is on the cup.

So when heads of state for whom a competition is named are around, referees are allowed to rob you of titles because of poor math skills? Man, African laws are confusing.

But the gift of this story doesn't stop giving. Enjoy some meta-irony courtesy of whoever wrote the recap in question.

Had the ref not erroneously stopped the penalty shoot-out, assuming MTL Wanderers missed their 4th untaken penalty, ESCOM United scored their remaining untaken penalty (5th penalty) and MTL Wanderers also missed their 5th untaken penalty, the two teams would have scored 3 out of 5 penalties each and the total score would have been 4-4 (including 1-1 regular time scores) which would have resulted into sudden death penalty shoot-out.
Is there anyone on the continent of Africa who can do simple addition? As was pointed out above, given the events as originally described the two teams would have each converted 2 of the 5 penalty kicks.

Anyway, Lwanja, by his own account, didn't screw up at all. "The ref told the media that he stopped the penalty shoot-out because of impending darkness. The same ref told the media that after ESCOM United had missed three of their four taken penalties he assumed (yes assumed) that they would not score the fifth one and therefore had no choice but to blow the final whistle."

And that's really what a good official ought to do, look at the teams, make a few assumptions, declare a winner, and let everyone get on with their day. Really, what other choice does he have? If you want to go back to the well, another Webb joke pretty much writes itself here.

The impending-darkness defense does make some sense in terms of the shortened game (if it had been shortened to accomodate remaining daylight) but that doesn't excuse just handing one team the win. Plus, this picture of Kamuzu Stadium, where the match was played indicates that the ground has lights, which would make "impending darkness" more or less irrelevant. Maybe Lwanja is from Endor.

Anyway, with the "win", MTL pocketed 10,000,000 MKW (Malawian Kwacha), about $71,000. And Verson Lwanja won the chance to officiate the FA Cup final.

Too bad he'll have to hope it's postponed for six months. That's the ban he was handed yesterday for his colossal mistake.


The Fan's Attic said...

or, you know, a world cup match and hand out 3 yellow cards.

Precious Roy said...

Poll never ref'ed again, right?

That seems a reasonable punishment.

The NY Kid said...

Malawi? I blame Madonna.

4now said...

lYou wrote: "Is there anyone on the continent of Africa who can do simple addition?"

Surely this kind of sentiment is not particularly useful. To be fair, it's crude and demeaning in the worst way - in fact, it's just stupid.

I hope you aspire to something greater than stupidity.

You should remove this comment.

ü75 said...


4now said...

Stupid is as ...

ü75 said...

...those who don't comprehend sarcasm.

4now said...

Wilde once noted that sarcasm was the lowest form of wit. If you are claiming to have achieved something like sarcasm with this trifling insolence, then you are overestimating yourself I can assure you. Though I wouldn't be surprised if this were evidence of a pattern.

ü75 said...


4now said...

HaHa... Well done!

Now THAT is sarcasm - and very approriate - I approve!

And look you didn't even need to make crude, implicitly racist remarks doing so.

I see a future for you after all Mr. 75.

4now said...

the lights at Kamuzu Stadium haven't worked for years - an incredibly satisfying irony when one considers the game was called AGAINST ESCOM because of impending darkness.

Ironic because ESCOM stands for the Electricy Supply Commission of Malawi!

These are the glorious ironies that could have been highlighted by your Precious author.

And what's makes the story truly and gloriously absurd.

Regretfully, your man seems to prefer blubbery moralism.

The Likely Lad said...

oh hey! i'm here for the gangbang.