Here is a decent YouTube of the disallowed U.S. winner against Slovenia.
The Seattle Times is running a poll question. Which was the worse call? Jim Joyce's, or the one in the U.S. - Slovenia game? Joyce's call was losing, 41-59, last I saw.
=== Plausible Deniability ===
There are some referees' blunders that carry with them "plausible deniability." (You can google this phrase that was a bedrock principle of 1970's U.S. geopolitical strategy.)
When the NFL refs called critical holding penalties on the Seahawks in the 2005 Super Bowl, those carried plausible deniability. There was no way to put a knockdown falsification on the calls. 95% of those watching knew what was going on, but there was enough wiggle room that the debate can go on.
The same tends to be true of NBA ref'ing, when it is slanted. Apologists for the system have enough wiggle room to plausibly claim that the unfair games are due to something other than sinister forces at work.
Baseball, on the other hand, tends to produce blown calls that LACK this "plausible deniability" factor.
Jim Joyce was well aware, after botching the Perfect Game, that he had no possible way to escape the situation. Knowing this, he immediately, the same night, apologized and baseball avoided a mini-Watergate (with the culprit twisting in the wind until the reaction far outweighed the actual crime committed).
The rank air was drafted out of the room through the open windows of MLB umpire accountability. One more thing to love baseball for.
The winning goal for the U.S. side against Slovenia did NOT carry this "plausible deniability" factor with it. The referee blew his whistle while three Slovenians literally bear-hugged American attackers, and replay after replay showed that the man actually receiving the penalty (Edu) was not close enough to any Slovenian to touch him.
=== World Reaction ===
The international chat boards, postgame, carried three grand themes:
- Yep, you betcha, the ref wanted to avoid a U.S. victory.
- That's football. Live with it. Happens all the time and we love our sport anyway.
- Mercy sakes alive, what an admirable, spirited U.S. side you have this year. Congrats on U.S. football.
=== Contrast NFL ===
U.S. sportswriters have pointed out that this kind of refereeing could never occur in U.S. sports, because referees and umpires have much more accountability than those in the World Cup.
It's one thing to say that refs tried to get away with some phantom holding calls in the 2005 Super Bowl.
But it would be an utterly different thing, for a NFL referee to (1) watch Tom Brady release a long pass to a wide-open Randy Moss to win the Super Bowl, then (2) for that ref to flag Moss for pass interference while the play was in progress, and then (3) to walk off the field never to answer a question on it, the rest of his life. Then (4) for fans to smile wryly and go, "well, you're going to see some fixed games in the NFL."
That wouldn't happen.