World (Cup) In Motion: Looking Back At RED CARD - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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World (Cup) In Motion: Looking Back At RED CARD

Chris Morley takes an early bath.
Having until now looked at relatively linear interpretations of both the World Cup and football itself, time to take things about as sideways as the laws of the game would allow by revisiting Midway's Red Card, something of a celebration of play of the sort that would make most referees wince.

The idea of the red card itself, in its best-known application - following two yellows and leading to something of an early bath for the offending player- dates back to the 1966 World Cup and the quick thinking of English official Ken Aston, then serving on FIFA's Referees Committee and responsible for overseeing the performances of the various men with the whistle throughout the tournament.

The quarter final between hosts and eventual winners England & Argentina was the spark for Aston's eureka moment after German official Rudolf Kreitlin had cautioned both Bobby & Jack Charlton of England and dismissed Argentine captain Antonio Rattin from the field. Doing so by simply taking a player aside and having a word had been part of the rules of the game since 1881, but amazingly it took around another 90 years for someone to create a system that would make it clearer for both players on the pitch and fans in the stands to see that such a decision had been made, inspired by the humble traffic light - yellow for caution and red to put a stop to any funny business.....
"As I drove down Kensington High Street, the traffic light turned red. I thought, 'Yellow, take it easy; red, stop, you're off'."
Mexico '70 was the first World Cup to see it trialled, with no players sent off for the duration of the tournament.
Red Card the game was released in 2002, another World Cup year, and its main tournament takes more than a few cues from the parent competition, though here there's a continental tournament with a difference for alongside national teams there are a few perhaps surprising guest sides. As Gamespot would note in its own review of the latest Midway attempt to add something a bit different to sports...
“It still takes the same exciting type of "no rules" approach that Midway's previous games have taken, but Red Card resembles the actual sport of soccer far more than, say, a two-on-two basketball game represents actual NBA play.

Up front, Red Card is a very simple game. You can jump into friendly exhibition matches, set up multiplayer tournaments, or jump into the game's "beat every team" conquest mode which pits you against all the other teams, one nation at a time. Playing through conquest mode unlocks new fantasy teams and arenas.

Unlockable teams include dolphins, a SWAT team, and samurai.”
Yes, you did read that right. Sadly, the man who invented the original carding system and ensured his fellow refs would have something to put in their top pockets never got to clap eyes on the game itself as Ken Aston died at the age of 86 in October 2001. What he would have made of it is possibly one of football's great unheralded what if scenarios. Although, Aston was the man in the middle for one of the most infamous games in World Cup history, Chile v Italy ( from 1962.

David Coleman's introductory commentary prior to the highlights of the game set the scene for what was to come...
“The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football in the history of the game. This is the first time these countries have met; we hope it will be the last. The national motto of Chile reads, By Reason or By Force.

Today, the Chileans weren’t prepared to be reasonable, the Italians only used force, and the result was a disaster for the World Cup.

If the World Cup is going to survive in its present form something has got to be done about teams that play like this. Indeed, after seeing the film tonight, you at home may well think that teams that play in this manner ought to be expelled immediately from the competition.”
Not for nothing is it commonly remembered as the Battle of Santiago, and Ken's pre-refereeing military career probably stood him in good stead for what was to come. FIFA's own retrospective can tell us more....
“Aston clearly enjoyed his time in the middle, and in 1936, he qualified as a referee. According to his obituary in the London daily newspaper The Times, by the start of the 1960s, Aston had worked his way up the referees' ladder, and was undoubtedly one of the top officials in the country. His work was seldom tainted by controversy.

But that was to change dramatically at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile. Aston was given the honour of refereeing the opening game between the host nation and Switzerland, a game that he controlled impeccably. Impressed by his performance, FIFA decided to name Aston in place of the original referee for the match between Chile and Italy, as they saw the Englishman as an experienced and reliable figure.

Aston himself was not exactly overjoyed by FIFA's decision, as the build-up to the match suggested the game would be a volatile one. Chilean newspapers claimed that Italian journalists had penned articles that cast doubt upon the beauty and morals of Chilean women. The emotionally-charged game had now become a matter of honour, and the football itself was only a secondary issue in the now infamous "Battle of Santiago".

"I wasn't reffing a football match, I was acting as an umpire in military manoeuvres," he was to remark in later years.”
But perhaps Red Card's appeal lies in the very fact it allows the player the chance to mostly get away with the sort of thing which if seen on any regular Saturday afternoon would see the offender heading down the tunnel. As Maxim said in their review...
“Sure, there’s plenty of passing, scoring, and other boring stuff like that, but pulling down naughty red cards is where it’s at. After collecting a full deck of those, you’ll understand why nothing jazzes up a sport better than flagrant infractions. “
Next time, it's back into proper World Cup territory with the official game of the 2006 tournament in Germany. From fouls to FIFA, you could say!

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