Tough… Not Dirty

The Socceroos have been on the recieving end of the referees whistle just a little too often in the two games played so far, and one feels that this is thanks to a mis-conception that the Aussies are “too physical”… and I’m not the only one to think so.

Look at the stats… the foul count for the Japan match, according to the stats on the BBC website, was 23 to 11… and similarly, the match against Brazil was 24 to 9. That’s a total of 47 fouls awarded to Australia’s opponents versus a mere 20 awarded to Australia. My 2-and-a-half-year-old could spot the inconsistency there.

Looking at the official FIFA stats the bias against Australia is further evident. Australia has, after 2 games, a Foul Committed (FC) to Foul Suffered (FS) ratio of 2.47… the highest of all 32 teams. The next closest is Tunisia on 2.05.

Now if a team was to commit over twice as many fouls as they suffered, one would expect them to have a higher card count… and this is true of Tunisia on 10 yellows, and even Ghana who are in third on FC/FS standings with 1.8, and have 8 yellows (second to Tunisia). Yet Australia has only received 6 yellow cards… equal 8th with the Netherlands, Paraguay, Switzerland and Japan which have FC/FS ratios of 1.62, 0.93, 0.91 and 0.75 respectively.

A final bit of statistical evidence… perhaps Australia tackles more often, from which they may have earned the tag of being “rough”. Well, a look at the Tackles Committed (TC) to Tackles Suffered (TS) ratio would suggest otherwise… the leader here are Ukraine, Argentina and Mexico with figures of 1.77, 1.41 and 1.40… while Australia is ranked 27th with a TC/TS of 0.83… between Poland on 0.84 and Togo on 0.79.

Clearly, Australia is no rougher than your average World Cup 2006 team… yet they’re singled out by the refs as being worthy of special attention… negative attention that is.

Now, this might be because of the Japanese trying to gain an advantage by branding Australia “bullies“, or the Dutch having a bit of a sook because their efforts at “simulation” weren’t as effective as they’d like in the warm-up match… or because the refs felt that the superstars of Brazil deserved some extra protection against the convicts from Down Under… who knows… but it has to stop… it’s not in keeping with FIFA’s motto… “Fair Play” now… is it!


[Originally posted on and recovered from waybackmachine and reposted here with spelling and grammar corrections on 02 August 2023]