Viva la Stephane Lannoy

The last time France did not have a referee in the World Cup was somewhere around 1357.

Or 1974.

Whatever. It’s been a while.

But unfortunately, Stephane Lannoy gets that ignominious “honour”.

Let’s get it out of the way right now: Lannoy is a good referee. Granted, his performance at the 2010 World Cup was hardly stellar. In the Ivory Coast v Brazil game, he famously reacted to missing a blatant handball by asking the offender if he handled the ball. (Guy said no. Duh.)

But he had a great 2012 European Championship, and though he was injured in late 2012, he came back to have a consistent and solid 2013. He’s been good…no doubt.

But he hasn’t been great. That and his age (44) were negatives against him. Plus, he’s already been to one World Cup, which is usually supposed to downgrade your chances (don’t tell Howard Webb).

But none of that mattered, really, because he’s French. No one seriously thought that FIFA would not choose a French referee for the World Cup, and Lannoy was the only game in town. In fact, just a few days before the announcement, the reliable Third Team blog was predicting a Lannoy appointment for just those very – political – reasons.

But FIFA didn’t choose him. Which is bad for Lannoy, but good for refereeing overall, I think.

However, I have a French friend who was translating news sites for me, and I find it interesting that the French don’t seem to believe that it’s a failing of Lannoy and his team (which it isn’t, really). They believe it’s a failing of the French football federation and all the infighting and ridiculousness of the last few years.

Here’s a rough translation of L’Equipe’s take on it:

This is a knock down for the French arbitration and for the French Football Federation. In June a deep reform of the arbitration was initiated after a decade of crisis and infighting. Stéphane Lannoy’s injury from last season may have been one of the reasons but it is mostly explainable by the disastrous image of the French arbitration. The last time it missed a World Cup was in 1974 in Germany.”

Hopefully they’ll get it together by 2018, but Lannoy has had a terrific career, and has nothing to be ashamed of.

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