Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Catania's Shorts Ruse

In soccer, the wall on free kicks is both a blessing for goalkeepers and a curse. The blessing is that it can help block off one part of the goal, requiring kickers to really bend the ball in order to score, a feat not master by a great many players. The curse is that the wall can block the vision of the goalkeeper until too late. Well, Catania, in the Italian Serie A, has added to the woes of goalkeepers and walls by dropping their shorts to further block the keeper's vision.
Catania, a team in the country’s top division, unveiled the new look while taking a free kick. The players lined up in a wall and dropped their shorts in an effort to block the goalkeeper’s vision.

The Sicilian team carried out the maneuver to perfection Sunday. Three players dropped their shorts practically to their knees so Torino goalie Matteo Sereni couldn’t see the kick by Giuseppe Mascara, who scored during Catania’s 3-2 victory.
As a referee, I probably would have carded the lot for unsporting behavior. If attackers want to line up in front of or behind a wall, that is fine and permissible play, but dropping their shorts to further obscure the vision of the goalkeeper is designed to take an unfair advantage and that is unsporting behavior punishable by yellow cards.

The Italian league should issue instructions to referees along the same lines.

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