'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Tale of Two Goals

Something happened very early today during the Honduras-France match at the World Cup. I quote from Hindustan Times:

"...a volley from Karim Benzema, who ended the night with two goals, came back off the post. The ball bounced back into the area, hit Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares and then bounced back towards the goal. The keeper tried to scoop the ball to safety, but Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci awarded the goal -- classed as an own-goal -- after consulting the instant technology. ..."

The media have been repeating all day how the hapless Valladares has become the first ever goalie to score an own-goal.

But methinks they have missed something: something very similar happened seven world cups ago - an event I was actually witness to, like millions of other soccer lovers. It was Mexico, the very first world cup they showed across India on the telly. I quote from Wiki article on French footballer Bruno Bellone:

"It was the quarter-final match against Brazil in 1986 for which Bellone will most be remembered ... In the shoot-out (after the match ended locked 1-1), Bellone took France's third penalty. It hit the post and rebounded onto Brazilian Goalie Carlos and then back into the goal and the referee awarded a goal. ... In the following year, the laws of football were clarified in favour of the referee's decision."

Elsewhere online one reads:

"The law covering penalty shoot-outs was clarified after a controversial incident involving Bruno Bellone in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final between France and Brazil. Bellone's spot kick rebounded off a post, hit the Brazil keeper's back and bounced into the goal. Referee Ioan Igna gave the goal despite Brazilian protests, and France went through 4-3 on penalties. In the following year Law 14 was clarified to support Igna's decision. Basically, a goal is given if the ball rebounds off the post, crossbar or keeper in any combination and "through the momentum imparted by the original penalty kick travels between the posts under the crossbar and completely over the goal line".

Right after the 1986 match, Indian expert P K Banerjee had opined on lines somewhat like these: "The key word is 'process'. From the moment the kick is actually taken to the ball having ended its journey decisively - that is the complete process. When Carlos made his ill-judged dive, the process was still ongoing; he interfered with it and redirected its trajectory towards his own goal. So when the process was complete, the ball was in the net. So, it is indeed a goal. It happened not because of Bellone's skill but Carlos's error so it can't be credited to the Frenchman; but a goal, it is!".

So, coming back to the present, Frenchman Benzema not being given credit for today's goal would be okay since it was the 'contribution' from Valladares that got the ball across the line. But then, does one also go back and change records to say (taking just one further and legitimate step from where PK left off): "Bellone was not the scorer; it was an own-goal by Carlos!"? In that case, Valladares has a clear forerunner and today's media have got it wrong.

But hold on! Goals scored during shootouts are, for some mysterious reason (mysterious to self!), not treated at par with penalties converted during the match. If someone scores in a shootout, he wont be credited with having scored a proper goal and if he nets a penalty during the match he would be. Ergo, Carlos did not score an own-goal; indeed, even if Bellone had hit the net straight, what he scored wouldn't have been a proper goal(*)!

I might have stopped making much sense but can't help adding a bit more: it is actually an error to call the final shootout a 'penalty shootout'. Why? Easy! Because, a shootout happens not because somone hacked down anyone near the goal or made some such serious rule violation. So, it can only be called a 'spot-kick shootout' or just a 'shootout', nothing with 'penalty'. And this might actually explain why shootout goals are not treated as equals to penalties slotted during the match proper.

Again someone might counter-argue, "okay, the shootout penalizes no individual but both teams are actually being penalized for failing to produce a result in the 120 minutes by making them go thru the stress of the shootout!" But that is a very unfair argument. Indeed, two teams may actually go hard and fast at each other and still remain deadlocked in regulation time. For example, as I can myself vouch for, the 1994 final between Brazil and Italy - a draw (and a goalless one at that) decided via a shootout - was quite an intriguing tactical battle between the Brazilian attack and the Italian defence, which kept most viewers engaged right thru; it was certainly one of the better matches among the 7 World Cup finals I have seen.

And finally: Although Benzema is officially not the scorer of that goal against Honduras, Wiki says he has been credited with an 'assist', the scorer being of course, poor Vallederas! Question: Was it an assist or a 'force'??


(*) That could mean the title on top is in error. What we have been analyzing are not "two goals" but "a goal and a shootout scoring shot". We could also say, this post is a tale of 'two goalies'.


Post a Comment

<< Home