Submitted by Qasim Khan
Soccer is a beautiful game; unfortunately, World Cup finals usually are not (today’s in particular) and for an obvious reason: the stakes are just too high. de Jong’s first half karate kick was so egregiously perverse that it was almost surreal. For as much flack as they get (see Jim Joyce), referees are stuck with the impossible task of sorting out nearly unparalleled mayhem. It’s disheartening to see a World Cup that has had such compelling storylines and beautiful play, capped off and likely defined by such an awful spectacle in front of its largest audience.
It’s not that everyone involved lacks respect for the game; it’s just simply the fact that when there is a World Cup to be won, nothing else really matters. Arjen Robben captured this beautifully going into the final when he said, “The intent is there to play good football, but the result is far more important. We have heard enough of talk about how our football is very nice. But it gets you nowhere. We want to achieve something.”
Ironically, it was Robben who illustrated his point to perfection today. After a beaten Puyol committed every possible foul to impede Robben on a breakaway, Robben had to make a difficult decision: go down or go for goal. He actually had legitimate justification to go down; Puyol would have very likely received a red card and Netherlands would have been in very good position to secure its first World Cup. But Robben chose to stay on his feet, went for the glory and came up empty (to be fair, it was a beautiful save by Saint Iker). No card. No goal. No World Cup. Nothing. And after all the previously confused musings, it dawned on all spectators just why soccer players flop, fake and in some cases, outright cheat.
And that is the problem with the world of finance. Every day is the World Cup final. Trillions of dollars. Creation and destruction of societies. The stakes are that high; so players will flop, fake and play dirty because at the end of the day, no one remembers or cares about second place. Like their referee counterparts, regulators find themselves in the impossible position of judging unbelievably talented people who are willing to do just about anything to win. Which is why when I see headlines like this weekend’s “Bank of America Says $10.7 Billion of Trades Wrongly Classified,” I really am not surprised anymore.