23 September 2007

Mito 1 - 2 Tokyo

"I think everyone saw whatever happened on the field today."

In the stadium lobby a couple of hours after the match, the Mito HollyHock club president was holding back what every Mito fan in the stadium was thinking. After a first half of great play by Mito, including a goal by midfielder Suzuki, Mito continued a strategy of strong defense to block out Tokyo's attacks. This came to an end when, in the middle of the second half, as midfielder Biju was jumping for the ball in the penalty area, he lightly bumped Tokyo forward Silva who through himself violently into the ground. A foul was called and there was major protest before the PK took place. J2 goal leader Hulk took the point in the PK, but that wasn't the end of it. Just as Mito prepared to take the ball, Suzuki was sent off with a straight red card for unsportsmanlike language. Nobody in the crowd knew what was going on, and neither did the players or TV announcers, but if anything was said, it was said to himself and not to the official.

Mito played strongly yet defensively with one man down, with two major chances. Both chances were stopped with violent takedowns in the Tokyo penalty area. However, these plays were not called as fouls, drawing incredible ire from the crowd.

With a few minutes to go, Tokyo headed in the winning goal, and the crowd turned ugly. Mito supporters are fairly harsh following Mito losses, but this time the jeers were not directed at offending players but at the officials. Dozens of calls of "bribery" rained down on the field and the players were sent off with 2-3 minutes of "Mito!" chants. I just finished watching the TV replay, and with that angle as well, I honestly don't know what the officials were thinking when they made those 3 calls involving penalty area play, and I can't see why Suzuki was sent off for saying something to himself. Even if just honest mistakes or poor judgment, the result is so disappointing.


Nick said...

I watched the game on TV last night. Speaking as a Verdy fan I was obviously happy with the result but have to 100 per cent agree with your description of proceedings. The refereeing was truly diabolical. The penalty award was ridiculous in that both players were going for (and looking at) the ball when they collided in mid air.To be fair I don`t think he went down for a penalty,but he sure as hell didn`t deserve one. The sending off was even worse, as you said play was just about to resume, the ref gets his card out.....and that was that. The game reeked of corruption.The shouts of bribery rang true to my ears, free penalty,free red card all we needed was the ref to score for us and that would have rounded the evening off. I am happy with 3 points on the board but my lord what a terrible way to get them.This kind of game helps nobody,we all want to win but win fairly. I truly wish we could play again with a normal referee. The referees are untouchable in Japan unfortunately. Next week some other team will be robbed Im sure....

Nick said...

I watched the game on TV last night. As a Verdy fan whilst Im happy with the 3 points on the board, I have to agree wholeheartedly with your description of proceedings.Truly diabolical refereeing ruined an other wise even game. The penalty should never have been given. Both players were looking at and going for the ball when they collided in mid air. To be fair,I certainly didnt think our guy was looking for a penalty.Not even a foul nevermind a penalty.Truly shocking.Then the red card decision was absolutely awful. Unsportsman like language...if you can`t have a cuss and a swear when youve just had a ridiculous decision go against you when can you??? This kind of game is good for nobody. As you say it reeked of corruption. Dodgy penalty,ridiculous sending off all we needed was for the referee to score with an overhead kick for us to complete the look. Unfortunately,the referees are untouchable in Japan. If he had refereed in England like this,he wouldn`t have a game next week. This guy will unfortunately be ruining somebody elses hard work next week.I feel like I have to apologise for winning, which is plainly ridiculous.

Vendo Thefastlane said...

I appreciate the sentiments. I accept that Mito's case this season has been a lost cause since before mid-season but this kind of situation is disheartening no matter the result. I had previously considered Japanese soccer to be fairly clean due to my experience last year in the Kobe game. Vissel was so close to clinching a J1 spot that the players put SO much heart into securing the 1 point win over Mito. I thought about how someone in that position could try to buy a win over a poor and weak team, but the effort proved otherwise.

Since Mito's win over Sapporo, that team's record against weak teams has led me to see a sumo-style point shaving scheme as a possibility. Coupled with Saturday's game, I have some suspicion that someone in the league wants officials to sculpt a more exciting race to J1. I still have more skepticism than suspicion, but it doesn't feel right.

Even though a loss, I had looked so forward to this. Whatever the result, Mito and Tokyo combine to make some of the most exciting games in the division.