In Defence of the World Cup Referee


In Defence of the World Cup Referee

Illustration: Arati Gujar


hen I was a 10-year-old, I was enrolled in a basketball class coached by a giant Catholic Bandra uncle with size 13 shoes and calves the size of my midriff. Catholic Basketball Uncle was utterly terrifying. As you can imagine, he had no qualms about using his size to his advantage, often throwing size 7 balls in the faces of the children who would refuse to pass the ball, and casually backhanding the kid with one hand in his pants and one finger in his nose.

But of all the things that irritated Catholic Basketball Uncle, one thing would make him fly into a rage like no other – complaints directed at the referee. He made this very clear one afternoon while he was “refereeing” a game of 5v5 (smoking a cigarette on a plastic chair while we ran around whacking each other). At some point during the game, one of the young boys tripped over his own feet, and immediately insisted from the ground that the ref should have called for a foul. Catholic Basketball Uncle didn’t say a word. He instead rose from his chair slowly (think of an elephant rising out of a river), lifted the crying child by his shorts, and placed him on the fence separating us from the Bandra traffic.