Among the more controversial calls in world football are the no calls. On Thursday, England may have been denied a golden opportunity to defeat Uruguay in Group D in Sao Paulo when defender Diego Godin was spared a yellow card in the first half, after picking up one in the ninth minute.
England’s 2-1 loss to Uruguay could have had a very different feel and result had Spain referee Carlos Velasco Carballo made a rather obvious decision.
Before the half-hour mark, Godin clearly caught forward Daniel Sturridge in the throat as the young English star was on attack along the right side. Such a foul nearly always warrants a yellow card, but Godin was only called for a foul, perhaps adding a shroud of controversy for Carballo.
Had Uruguay played the 60 minutes with just 10 men, the final score might have looked dramatically different. In particular, the loss of their top center back, who has also been a team leader for Atletico Madrid, would have been a major hurdle for Uruguay.
Just before the Luis Suarez strike that put Uruguay up 1-0, famed England striker Michael Owen wrote on the Daily Telegraph website: “We have to keep attacking Godin, too. Red card waiting to happen there."
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The red card would never come for Godin, and Suarez would score the game-winning goal in the 84th minute to dampen England’s ambitions for a World Cup run.
It appears to be another example of England wondering about what could have been. A victory over Uruguay would not have guaranteed that England advanced, but it would have obviously been a major boost for a country that has failed to reach the semifinals since 1990.