Unprofessional Foul


June 10, 2008

Italy-Netherlands In MS Paint

As noted yesterday, World Champion Italy suffered an historic defeat at the hands of the Netherlands. The Dutch beat soundly the Italians for the first time since 1978. It was also the Azurri’s worst ever defeat in the European Championship.

Ruud van Nistlerooy opened his Euro 2008 account in the 26th minute on a controversial goal. The Real Madrid striker redirected a Wesley Sneijder into the goal after a goal mouth scramble on a free kick rebounded out to Sneijder. Only Gianluigi Buffon stood between Ruud and the goal on the Sneijder’s shot, which would normally be an easy offside call. But, in the previous scramble Buffon injured his own defender, Christian Panucci, in a collision. Panucci went down in an Italian heap just past the endline. He writhed in misery only to play on through the match.

The Dutch celebrated the goal nervously, van Nistlerooy glancing back incredulously to see if he actually scored and was not offside. The referee ruled him on and the celebration was afoot. Much protest was espoused by the Italians, but it appears the ruling was correct. Even the Italian Accepters of Bribes [Referee] Chief has said the ruling was correct.

To better understand the rule, I have undertaken an audacious attempt at depict visually the play and interpret the ruling. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. If so, the words are mostly at a fifth-grade level.

Here is the initial free kick the led to the goal. Notice all Dutch players are at least even with the second last opposing player.

After the set play, the Buffon collided with Panucci sending him to ground. Presumably, Panucci thought a Dutch player knocked him down and was hoping to get a call as he stayed down longer than one normally would when the ball was still in play in front of the goal.

Here is where the confusion begins. After the ball rebounded on the free kick, Panucci was still prone beyond the touchline whinging and crying, only Buffon standing between van Nistlerooy and the goal. Don’t worry, players with horseheads must still abide by the Laws of the Game. Sneijder’s shot/pass went straight to van Nistlerooy, who turned it in to the goal. The referee determined Panucci was still in the play and kept the Dutch striker onside.

The ruling standing, the Dutch celebrated like it was the 1700s and they still ruled the sea and the Italians complained as they do.

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Unprofessional Foul