29.02.2024 Feature Article

"Justice" – A Metaphysical Discourse

Justice – A Metaphysical Discourse
29.02.2024 LISTEN

While watching the exciting football match Between the two English Premier League teams, Chelsea and Liverpool, on Sunday 25 February 2024, it occurred to me that football must seriously threaten the “faith” of those who depend on deities to arrange victories for them on the field of play.

Most players exhibit signs of superstition, yet

How can any fair-minded player “pray” to his particular deity to cause his opponents to lose the match?

Aren’t deities supposed to treat all creatures equally? When both sides pay obeisance to their deities before a match and one side loses, does it mean their deity is “weaker” than that of the opponent? Did the losing side waste its time when ts players linked hands before the match and listen to a member of the team give a “pep” talk (of sorts) presumably filled with religious exhortations?

When the players responded by yelling piously in unison after the “prayer”, Were they setting themselves up for mockery after the game?

Would they tell themselves, after losing the match:

“But the other side also"prayed "? Why had their “God” favoured them, while ours had failed us?”

Well, during the Chelsea-Liverpool match, serious metaphysical issues reared their head big time. Were the gods fair to the Liverpool player, Virgil Van Dijk, when they allowed his First goal to be ruled “offside”?

Van Dijk beautifully headed the ball into the Chelsea goal in the 62nd minute. Now, I was brought up to believe that

it’s the player who “scores” a goal who is either ONside or OFFside. But it is apparent that the rule has been changed and that now, ANY player of a side that scores can be determined to have been “offside” and thus get the side’s goal nullified. Is that fair?

Even if the player(s) who caused the “offside” were not “interfering” with the play when the goal was scored, it’s an offside if the VAR [Video Assisted Refereeing system] decides that the goal was offside!

Sometimes, the VAR goes to great lengths to try and figure out whether the knee or (perhaps) even a “toe” of an attacker had crossed the line before the goal-scorer shot the ball into the net.

How ridiculous that is. The offside rule was invented to prevent players stealthily going too close to the goalmouth to gain an undue advantage that facilitates scoring. But right now, the offside rule is often used to frustrate players and their supporters. In other words, football can, these days, be won by abstruse technicalities, not soccer artistry.

Regular readers of my columns will recall that I was extremely peeved when one of the best goals Ghana scored during the AFRICON tournament in the Ivory Coast (against Cape Verde on January 14 2024) was ruled offside because although the scorer himself was very far away from the goalmouth, the goal was disallowed because two other members of of the Ghanaian team were adjudged to be “offside”.

A so-called football expert I consulted gave the explanation that perhaps the Ghana players who were ruled offside could have “obstructed” the view of the opposing goalkeeper.

I didn’t agree: in my view, such a consideration was erroneous. A guy gets the ball and shoots or heads it home. So long as he didn't gain any “advantage”

by being closer to the goalmouth than the opposing defenders, it’s a clean goal. Ruling it offside because some other players might java “obstructed" the goalkeeper’s view, is introducing subjective elements into the rules. It makes a mockery of the basic principle behind football,

namely, that the game must be won with skill and finesse. Who could have said that the Ghanaian player did not exhibit those qualities when he managed to shoot the ball into The net from a distance of between 30 and 40 yards?

Both skill and finesse were also exhibited by Liverpool’s Van Dijk, in the first goal he scored against Chelsea at Wembley in the UK FA Cup Final on 25 February 2024.

He jump[ed high to reach for a high ball within his head, surrounded by a lot of players. He out-jumped all of them, and also managed to direct the ball with his head, whilst jumping, accurately to a corner of the Chelsea goal. The Chelsea goalkeeper tried hard but couldn't reach the ball.

Every non-Chelsea fan at the match would have thought it was a beautiful goal. But even as all the non-partisan spectators Cheered (because it was the sort of goal that is welcomed by football fans when a dreary match has been droning on, without a goal, for over an hour) out came the VAR! No goal! Complete balderdash!@

The VAR is fast being transformed from an instrument for establishing accuracy into a tortuous magical box whose decisions can go “anywhere”

That’s very sad, because football does need to produce fair results all the time. Indeed, it’s ironical that VAR is fast becoming a millstone around the necks of the artists who do their best to entertain us by ignoring the possibility of injury to their bodies, and all sorts of other dangers. week after week after week.

Be that as it may, the over 80,000 spectators at Wembley must have blessed the “god of football” when Van Dijk managed to score a second goal – perfectly similar to the one ruled offside earlier – again with his head! This time the goal, scored in “extra time “ (118th minute) was adjudged to be ”Legal”.

Now, I ask you: if you were Virgil Van Dijk, and you happened to believe in a deity, would you say that the deity had been unkind to you (as regards the first header ruled offside) but had realised that a mistake had been made, and had then done a cartwheel and corrected the mistake?

Another question: if you were the Chelsea manager (or say, captain) would you say your deity had been “unfair” to you, by giving you the impression, to begin With, that the deity was on your “side”, whereas the finals result showed that it was not?

As the proverb says in Twi – “na asem sebe!” (this is to be comprehended proverbially, not literally!)