Harry Kane, Gerard Deulofeu cases show goalkeepers paying the price

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Updated 09 February 2018
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Harry Kane, Gerard Deulofeu cases show goalkeepers paying the price

LONDON: Last Sunday, amid the general debate about the award of Tottenham’s first penalty at Anfield, there was much discussion about whether Harry Kane had dived. The following night, there was a similar debate about whether Gerard Deulofeu had dived to win Watford a penalty against Chelsea.
Both situations were similar, in that they involved a goalkeeper diving at the feet of an attacking player, and that both were considered controversial shone a light onto a much wider issue in football.
Thibaut Courtois, the Chelsea goalkeeper, was explicit in comparing the two incidents. 
“Yesterday, we saw when the goalkeeper comes out and is late you make yourself small but the striker puts his foot there and it’s a penalty, every time this will happen. He left his foot and dives it’s not a penalty,” he said. 
There was a debate about whether Gerard Deulofeu had dived to win Watford a penalty against Chelsea.
“I think we all know this kind of player. It happens everywhere in the world, this type of striker sees the goalkeeper coming for the ball, I make myself as small as possible with my belly on the ground and he manufactures the contact. I’m sorry but I don’t think it’s a penalty.”
The key phrase is “he left his foot there.” It’s a clever defense because it is true that forward as they go past defenders often dangle a leg in the hope of, to use Courtois’ phrase, manufacturing contact. That is a very modern, sophisticated development of diving, and it is a huge problem for referees. It also has nothing to do with either the Kane or Deulofeu cases.
Both Courtois and Loris Karius threw themselves toward the ball, leading with their hands and upper body. In both cases the attacking player nudged the ball past them. In both cases the attacking player half-jumped over the goalkeeper and went down after being clipped.
Perhaps both Kane and Deulofeu could have hurdled the goalkeepers successfully. Perhaps both did deliberately ensure that there was sufficient contact to justify them falling over. It does not matter.
In that situation the attacking player has two basic options: He keeps running, hits the keeper hard, wins the penalty and risks being injured; or he jumps, tries to avoid the keeper and risks losing control of the ball. Both situations are penalties. The law is clear that there is no need for contact. It is an offense to “trip or attempt to trip” an opponent. Now you can argue that both Karius and Courtois were going for the ball — they probably were. But if in going for the ball, and missing it, they are in so little control of their bodies that they force an attacking player to take evasive action then they have acted carelessly and so have committed an offense. It is a clear penalty. 
Amid the general debate about the award of Tottenham’s first penalty at Anfield against Liverpool last weekend, there was much discussion about whether Harry Kane had dived.
Attacking players can hardly be blamed if they try both to avoid injury and to make sure the referee realizes they have been impeded.
Courtois admitted he was “late.” His argument that he tried to make himself small is ludicrous, and not just because he’s 6’5”. Imagine if an outfield player lunged for the ball and missed it, forcing an opponent to take evasive action. Nobody would doubt that was a foul, and possibly even a yellow or red card. Goalkeepers, though, seem a breed apart, the laws applying to them in different ways.
Perhaps it is a necessary redress after the decades when goalkeepers could be bundled over the goalline by powerful center-forward. ​
Nobody wants them to be at risk when they come to claim a cross, leaping with arms extended and leaving their ribs exposed. But perhaps the pendulum has swung too far. It seems bewildering, for instance, that Manuel Neuer’s reckless challenge on Gonzalo Higuain in the 2014 World Cup final, kneeing him in the jaw, was not only not a red card but was given as a foul the other way, more confusing still that it is never even spoken about.
Goalkeepers are treated differently. But for everybody, perhaps, it would be useful to forget about notions such as contact and whether a forward is manufacturing an offense and look instead at the defensive player. Is he kicking or attempting to kick? Is he tripping or attempting to trip? Is he impeding? Look at his actions and not the consequences. Kane may have been offside, but both he and Deulofeu were fouled.


Maldini, Buffon and Baggio feature in star-studded farewell for Italy legend Pirlo

Updated 22 May 2018
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Maldini, Buffon and Baggio feature in star-studded farewell for Italy legend Pirlo

  • Filippo Inzaghi scores hat-trick in 7-7 draw
  • Pirlo bows out having won 116 caps for his country

MILAN: Former Italy star Andrea Pirlo took to the pitch for the final time to say goodbye to football in a star-studded testimonial “Night of the Master” tournament at the San Siro on Monday.
Champions and former teammates from all over the world — from Paolo Maldini to Gianluigi Buffon, and Roberto Baggio to Frank Lampard — joined the retiring legend to celebrate the final act of a glittering career.
“I thank my friends and all the people who came to the stadium to enjoy a fantastic evening of entertainment, sport and charity,” the 39-year-old said as he received a standing ovation from 50,000 fans.
Towards the end of the match which finished 7-7 with a hat-trick from former AC Milan and Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi, Pirlo gave his place to his 15-year-old son Nicolo, also a midfielder and who plays for Juventus’s youth team.
“He has fun and I’m happy, he must be happy to play football, it’s the best thing in the world, in the future we’ll see,” said Pirlo.
And there was no lack of coaching talent either on the bench with former AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti leading the ‘White Stars’ team and Juventus’s Massimiliano Allegri in charge of the ‘Blue Stars’.
Italian FA vice-commissioner Alessandro Costacurta, another former AC Milan player, and who has said Pirlo could have a future role in the federation, also took to the pitch.
Pirlo said he was considering coaching.
“I have time to think about what to do. I stopped recently, I don’t miss the pitch. In the future it could be coaching,” he said.
“All my ex-teammates didn’t want to become coaches, yet they’ve all done it.”
Capped 116 times for Italy, Pirlo called time on his illustrious career last November after winning the 2006 World Cup, two Champions League titles and six Serie A trophies.
Pirlo began his career at Brescia and also played for Inter, AC Milan and Juventus before moving to play in New York City FC in the MLS.
“I chose May 21 because 21 is my number and I made my debut in May,” said Pirlo.