Is FIFA Censoring the U.S. Non-Goal?


[Courtney Knapp]

The soccer world is still buzzing about referee Koman Coulibaly's nullification of a USA goal in last week's match against Slovenia. If you didn't watch Friday's match: Landon Donovan put a well placed free kick into the box, which Maurice Edu knocked into the net in what would have been a tie-breaking third goal. Coulibaly disallowed the goal citing an unspecified American foul on the play. On replays, no American fouls were visible. In fact, American players were being pulled down by Slovene defenders.

Coulibaly's decision has been discussed, dissected and derided. (And like beleaguered umpire Jim Joyce, Coulibal's Wikipedia page was quickly defaced to reflect fans' views of his call.)

I'd point you to relevant footage from the match, but FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) has blocked video of the nullified goal. If you try to watch on YouTube you receive the following message: "This video contains content from FIFA, who has blocked it on copyright grounds."
Click around. Lots of other World Cup video are available. For example, here are clips from the South Africa-Mexico match, the France-Uruguay match, and the South Korea-Greece match. [UPDATE: All three of the above videos are now unavailable in some places, sorry!] The FIFA highlight reel from the match also skips over the controversial goal.

In addition, the excellent Robin Goldstein is covering FIFA's alleged censoring of discussion of the call. Goldstein reported on the initial silencing of comments and then the picky approval by the moderators of's "Have Your Say" discussion boards immediately following the match.

... on, the silence about USA-Slovenia has been deafening. The latest comment to appear on the discussion board has a timestamp of 20:04. In the 193-minute span between the game's end and the latest comment's time stamp, only 24 squeaky-clean comments have been approved. For instance: "great fightback by the USA"; "this is the right result on the balance of play"; "way to go USA"; "the match was really exciting!"; "slovenia is the best team"; "USA are becoming a real nice team!"; and "Slovenia had a great chance to qualify in the next round!! But in the second half we were too defensive."

By comparison, in that same span of time--193 minutes--after the end of Germany-Serbia (which ended today at 14:20), there were already 175 comments posted. That's more than seven times as many.

Is FIFA's response to the controversy censorship?

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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