Another Fine German Cog in the FIFA Machine

While there was a faint hint of conspiracy surrounding the US exit from the Olympics (what international tournament would be complete without the hovering rumor of scandal?), that flame flickered and died for me much as the US hopes of advancement had. Sure, the US had a player red carded just three minutes into its decisive match, and the Dutch were handed a soft penalty to allow them to advance instead of the Americans, but still . . .

But still.

Then I read this WaPo article linked to by the mighty Goffster, and, for the first time, I came across the name of the man who sent off the US's Michael Orozco.

Wolfgang Stark.

Something tickled in the back of my addled Fullback noggin, but I figured it was just the dregs of a youthful comic-book obsession. Surely Wolfgang Stark was the grandfather or nitwit German half-brother of Iron Man, right? I let it go for a bit, but then I just had to know--why was this name setting off my crappy-ref-dar?

Oh yeah.

That guy. The guy who had to make a mad dash off the field under police protection at the U-20's in Canada to keep from being assaulted by fans and players alike after he dished out a remarkable array of cards and fouls, mostly against the Chileans. Of particular interest to US fans might be this juicy bit from a Toronto Star article . . .

Sometimes German referee Wolfgang Stark blew his whistle, and other times he didn't.

In the 15th minute Chile's Gary Medel collided with Argentina's Gabriel Mercado near the sideline. When Mercado fell on the ball, Medel kick – either at the ball or at Mercado – and missed both.

Still Mercado grabbed his face and rolled around on the ground for a bit pretending to be in pain. It worked. Medel was red carded.

Now, neglecting for a moment the shoddy grammar (Canadian past-tense conjugation of "to kick" is "kick"?), let's take a look at what happened here. Wolfie fell for the playacting--multiple times according to the infallible font of all knowledge, which highlights his falling for Argentine "diving and theatrics". And yet this dude still gets a pass to the next major international tourney? After having provoked a riot by his incompetence in the last one? And are we now shocked at his response to a bit of "embellishment" by the Nigerian player that was felled by a fairly insignificant elbow?

Ah, now there's a conspiracy. There's the mind-numbingly corrupt FIFA machine at its finest, awash in fine German referees like the terrifying and megalomaniacal villain Markus Merk.

And the theater-loving Wolfgang Stark (no relation).

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