Jubilation was quickly followed by misery when Americans witnessed referee Koman Coulibaly wiping off the U.S. team's winning goal at last month's World Cup game against Slovenia.
In a sport that does not allow instant replay, bad calls seem common. Now University of Pennsylvania scientists may have a partial explanation for what they call "ambiguous foul judgments."
Neurology researcher Alexander Kranjec said: "Readers of left-to-right written languages have preferences for left-to-right direction, and have a negative [unconscious] bias for events moving from right to left. This has the opposite effect in languages that are written from right to left."
Using 12 members of Penn's women's and men's varsity soccer teams, Kranjec showed still images of soccer plays in left-to-right directional motion, and later flipped the images to illustrate right-to-left movement. The participants called about three more fouls when images of soccer plays were viewed from right to left (66.5 fouls) compared with those images viewed from left to right (63.3).