Saturday, 12 January 2013

Minor Contact May Cause Major Problems

The following incident occurred during a Copa Del Rey (King's Cup) round of 16 second-leg match between Real Madrid and Celta Vigo on Wednesday 9 January 2013. The match finished 4—0, with Real Madrid winning 5—2 on aggregate.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (white 7) races forward with the ball and does his trademark "skip" to simultaneously change direction of the ball and himself. Subsequently, the defender (red 2) tries to adjust himself accordingly. Here are the freeze frames:


Clash of thighs and knees here!


Full impact of downward force on left leg (red player)


Unfortunately, there was slight contact as the Celta Vigo defender's left knee brushed against Ronaldo's right thigh just before he expected to land on his left foot and push off hard to change his direction. At high speed, this alters certain trajectories of movement, so that now the defender's left leg has a more open (obtuse) angle than anticipated which cannot take the full impact of the downward force exerted on it. The left knee jarred and crumpled (plus the ankle may have also been sprained) and this is why the freak injury occurred.

Furthermore, Ronaldo's right leg trajectory was also altered, which is why he lost his footing and fell.

A freak injury caused by unexpected minor contact

The referee knew there was contact, and therefore played advantage when Ronaldo quickly got back on his feet and continued to attack toward goal.

Why post about this? In the EPL, there is much heated discussion about Tottenham Hotspur player Gareth Bale and his reputation for diving or going to ground easily. He has been cautioned five times since the beginning of the season, all for simulation. Some of his cautions were correct and some are debatable because there was contact before Bale went to ground.

This concept of "slight contact" having a significant effect on an athlete moving at high speed perhaps deserves more consideration. Match officials are always striving to improve their skills, and having more examples and research on this concept can help Referees better understand why some players may appear to go down easily at the slightest contact. Can slight contact really have a major impact on a player's movement? Further examples and research would benefit Referees who encounter such incidents at the highest (and fastest) levels.


Sunderland 1 Tottenham 2: Bale caught up in new diving storm but Spurs go marching on (Daily Mail)

Bale dives into face-to-face talks with ref Marriner as Spurs ace tries to get rid of his reputation (Daily Mail)

1 comment:

  1. The problem Gareth Bale faces is not that he goes down when he feels contact- he goes down anticipating it, often he is criticises when he down with little to none- arguing that he sees it coming and is protecting himself is absurd when one can see the abuse Messi puts up with on a weekly basis.

    Whilst I certainly accept that a foul can be committed without contact- going down in anticipation is not a foul as judged by the Laws of the Game. Furthermore I'd add that the way Bale goes to ground is often counter to the way you'd expect a footballer to fall should he be tripped or made contact with at high speed.

    If Messi can stay on his feet at high speed, then I don't think we should expect others not to. And I'm certainly one for giving less to players who are proven divers.