Goaaaaaal!!?????? World Soccer Chiefs Bicker Over Official Use Of Instant Replay

With a final decision looming, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has reversed his longstanding opposition to using instant replay to help referees. But other soccer officials oppose the idea, like UEFA President Michel Platini and German legend Franz Beckenbaur

Crossing the line? (Goose#19)
Crossing the line? (Goose#19)
Simon Meier

ZURICH - It seems paradoxical that soccer, a sport where cameras are always welcome, is having an identity crisis over the implementation of a video system, believed to be simple and reliable, to determine whether or not the ball has crossed the goal line.

The technology seems necessary in light of recent refereeing mistakes, most notably the England-Germany game in the last World Cup when Frank Lampard's 2-2 equalizer for England was refused by the referee despite instant replay showing the ball clearly crossing the line. Even Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, world soccer's governing body, a longtime critic of official instant replay, has had a change of heart: "The 2014 World Cup will use instant replay in order to avoid ghost goals."

Mistakes make emotions?

Most soccer insiders, as well as fans, have welcomed the decision. Modern soccer, with its financial stakes, can no longer afford to leave the outcome of a game to fate or the flawed decision of a human referee.

But Michel Platini, Europe's top soccer official, and Blatter's likely successor, has remained openly opposed to the use of technology during games. The French soccer legend believes in human decisions, and has long been calling for two extra referees on the field behind the goal line. Another soccer legend, Germany's Franz Beckenbauer followed Platini's lead saying "soccer is a simple game with simple rules which lives on emotion." The International Football Association Board, which has finally say on soccer's global rules, is slated to choose between reliable refereeing and emotions in March.

Read the original article in French

Photo - Goose#19

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Debt Trap: Why South Korean Economics Explains Squid Game

Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.

In the Netflix series, losers of the game face death

Yip Wing Sum


SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.

The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.

It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.

Seoul housing prices top London and New York

In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.

According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.

Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.

One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.

According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.

Playing the stock market

At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.

A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."

In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.

42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s

Simon Shin/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Game of survival

In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.

But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.

This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.

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