Japanese people all over Japan, and all over the world, are celebrating their “Japanese Blue” Soccer team today.
Though Japan lost their World Cup soccer match against Poland today by a score of 1-0, they still managed to get through to the Round of 16. This is a pretty big deal, as Japan has only made it to the Round of 16 on two other occasions (2002 when they hosted the World Cup and 2010).
However, its the way they made it to the Group of 16 this year that has some people a little bit upset with Japan. You see, Japan needed a tie or a win today to advance to the next round—without needing any help from anyone else. But as I mentioned at the start, Japan lost today. So what happened?
Well, that is where Colombia’s 1-0 win against Senegal comes in. Before the start of that game, Japan and Senegal were actually tied in the number of points needed to get to the next round. And when Senegal played Japan, they also tied with each other. So if Senegal won or tied their game, then Japan would be eliminated.
But lucky for Japan, Senegal lost today too.
So both teams remained tied in “points” needed to advance to the next round. So in the end, the way that the winner would be decided would be by seeing which team had the least number of fouls. Before today’s games, Senegal had a record of 5 fouls, while Japan only had 3.
The problem is that Japan figured all of this “points” and “fouls” math with 10 minutes left in their own game. So for the last 10 minutes of the Japan versus Poland match, both teams kicked the ball around without even trying to score. So Japan basically stopped playing and accepted the 1-0 loss because they knew that if everything stayed the same they would get to the next round. But of course, this meant that they had to depend on Colombia beating Senegal—which they did.
But many soccer fans were not happy that Japan stopped trying with 10 minutes left, and wanted them keep playing 100% until the end. They thought that Japan was “cheating” the point system by accepting defeat, and many are saying that Japan’s actions are a disgrace to soccer.
I know my opinion may not matter to most, but I don’t think people should be “shaming” Japan this way. I think that they simply used the World Cup point system in a way that is allowed under the current rules. Of course, I would have preferred to see Japan continue to make a 100% effort for the entire time, because I really wanted them to win. But Japan doesn’t normally get to the Round of 16—again, they have only been there twice—so they simply did something that would get them to the next round. It wasn’t pretty, but they did it.
In any event, I think that we should be happy for everyone that made it through to the Round of 16, and let’s hope that everyone does their best no matter what! Because in the Round of 16, everyone has to play 100% or go home!
See you soon!