Wednesday 25 January 2012

Pepe Le Pew — What a Stinker Part 2

This post follows on from Part 1, in a match where Real Madrid's Pepe is causing mayhem on the pitch.

Incident Four Pepe Stamps on Star Player Messi

In the 67', Real Madrid substitute Jose Callejon (white 21) makes a reckless challenge on Barcelona midfielder Lionel Messi who is tripped while in full flight. Messi tumbles and crashes to the ground. As Referee César Muñiz Fernández takes out his yellow card to caution Callejon, the following incident happens. Here are the freeze frames:
Pepe looks down at where he is stamping

Pepe knows Messi is in pain behind him yet continues to argue with the Referee

Notice how Pepe's right foot comes down heel first and next to his left foot, which indicates a stamping motion ... as opposed to a natural stepping or walking motion had he been moving away from Messi

If Pepe was genuinely walking away from Messi, his right foot would not come down heel first right next to his left foot. That is not a natural walking motion to help move away from a player who is down on the ground.

Note 1: In such situations, a measure of a player's empathy is whether he can sympathize with another person's situation. Hypothetically if Pepe had accidentally stepped on (let alone stamped on) one of his team-mate's hand, what would Pepe have done? Shown concern, of course, and walked back to check on him. Most people can tell the difference between putting their foot down on the grass pitch and putting it down on someone's hand. For Pepe to walk away and blatantly ignore what is happening behind him is genuinely ungentlemanly conduct.

Media Note: It is frustrating, but understandable (given the climate of libel and lawsuits), how much of the media mentioned the deliberate stamping incident with sentences like: "Pepe appeared to stand on Messi's hand", "Pepe's apparent stamp on Messi's hand" and "Pepe appears to stamp on the hand of Lionel Messi".

Note 2: Whenever a player is on the ground, all match officials must be vigilant and aware that something bad can potentially erupt. I have observed similar incidents in matches at all levels where Referees are simply not aware of the devious and unsporting antics that some players can get up to. See example of a stamping incident here in a Hong Kong match (see Unpleasant Incidents in Hong Kong).

It is hoped that retrospective action will be taken against the unsporting behaviour of Pepe. His stamp on Lionel Messi's hand was no accident. At the professional and highest levels, there are no "accidents". Such players who plead innocent are like 'slimy villains in daytime soaps who intentionally over-act'.

Follow Up:
The Spanish FA (RFEF) has announced it will take no action against Real Madrid defender Pepe over his alleged stamp on the hand of Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

Incident Five Pepe Kicking Fabregas and Then Claiming He Was Kicked By Fabregas

In the 75', Pepe (white 4) is menacingly hounding Fabregas (red/blue 4) from behind as Fabregas protects the ball. Pepe takes three kicks at Fabregas from behind, with no chance in getting the ball, and then audaciously tries to claim a foul by indicating that Fabregas had somehow kicked him. Here are the freeze frames:
Kick once
Kick twice
Kick thrice
Pepe (white 3) claims Fabregas (red/blue 4) kicked him

The Referee, who was stood motionless about 15 yards away as all this happened, finally whistled for a foul against Pepe. Fabregas is to be admired and commended for not reacting to Pepe's antics and unsporting behaviour.

Pepe is subbed off soon after, and then Barcelona score the winning goal.

Although this two-part post focused on Pepe's negative and unsporting behavior, he was not the only Real Madrid player to dish out the dirty tackles on Barcelona players, and particularly on Lionel Messi (see this news article)

The second leg of this Copa del Rey quarter-final will be played on Wednesday 25 January 2012 at the Nou Camp.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Pepe Le Pew — What a Stinker Part 1

Real Madrid's Pepe. Odor-able?

On the whole, footballers are nice guys who play the game in the right spirit. Occasionally, there is a player who every other player knows about and are wary of. This kind of player is someone who you (as a player, coach or supporter) are relieved to know is on your team, or otherwise will send alarm bells ringing in your head because he is on the other team. Portugal and Real Madrid defensive midfielder Pepe, or his name in full Kieper Laveran Lima Ferreira, is this kind of player.

For those who don't know, Pepé Le Pew is an "odor-able" cartoon character who is portrayed as a French skunk with an unpleasant scent and who cannot accept "no" for an answer.

Pepe's mean reputation has been built from malicious tackles, red cards and match suspensions. Examples include last season's El Clasico where he was sent off for SFP on Dani Alves, and in the 2008-2009 season where he received a 10-match ban for kicking Getafe player Francisco Casquero while he was on the ground.

The following incidents occurred during the Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg match between Real Madrid and Barcelona on Wednesday 18 January 2012. This date was also the 41st birthday of Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola. The match finished 1—2.

Incident One Pepe's Reckless Challenge

In the 17', Pepe (white 3) makes a reckless challenge on Sergio Busquets (red/blue 16) by stamping on his foot when trying to play the ball.

Referee César Muñiz Fernández cautions Pepe and says "No More"

Referee César Muñiz Fernández saw this as a reckless challenge and dealt with it by issuing a caution and public warning.

Incident Two Jumping and Leading with Arm

In the 20', Gerad Pique (red/blue 3) uses his arm as a tool and strikes Pepe (white 3) in the face.
Pepe appears to "overreact" as he lies writhing on the ground as his Real Madrid team-mates (e.g. Sergio Ramos; pic from this news article) apply pressure on the Referee.

Referee César Muñiz Fernández correctly cautions Pique; however Pepe's theatrics and the way in which his Real Madrid team-mates surround the Referee are unsporting and unacceptable behavior (see this news article for further photos).

Incident Three Pepe's Embarrassing Theatrics

In the 64', Pepe tussles with Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas for the ball and upon realizing that he will lose possession, grabs his face with both hands and tries to get a foul. Replays show that perhaps Fabregas did touch his left cheek but—unless Fabregas has really sharp nails or an iron claw of a hand—it was not the kind of contact that would bring about such a violent and farcical reaction as displayed by Pepe.
The AR would have had the best view and didn't flag any foul. Play was allowed to continue but eventually Barcelona sportingly put the ball out of play so that Pepe could be attended to.

Pepe probably realized that he had lost possession to Fabregas and attempted another way to stop play and prevent Barcelona from attacking

Pepe's theatrics is embarrassing and reminded me of Ronaldo's theatrics from last season when Real Madrid played an away UCL match at AC Milan (see Webb's Weak Woeful Week).

Look out for Pepe Le Pew — What a Stinker Part 2, where further incidents involving Pepe continue.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Similar Similar Means Different Part 3

Manchester City's Vincent Kompany was sent off by Referee Chris Foy for lunging at an opponent with both legs in a scissors formation (please see Part 1 and Part 2).

Serbia forward Mateja Kezman will be ending his football career (i.e. hanging up his boots) in Hong Kong after he plays his two final matches in the city on 23 and 26 January 2012. See excerpts of news story below.

Question: What do the above two statements have in common?
Answer: Mateja Kezman was sent off at the 2006 World Cup in Germany for doing exactly what Vincent Kompany did in Manchester in 2012. Furthermore, Kezman has chosen to end his football career in Hong Kong which coincidentally brings in the 'Hong Kong connection'.

The following incident occurred during the 2006 World Cup group match between Argentina and Serbia on 16 June 2006. The match finished 6—0, and the goal of the tournament also came from this match (i.e. Argentina's 24 or 25 pass move that came several years before the appearance of the current Messi-Xavi-Iniesta-inspired Barcelona side who now 'routinely' produce such wonderful goals every time they play! Messi was a 74' substitute in that 2006 Word Cup match).

Round 2. Argentina vs Serbia 2006 World Cup (FIFA Highlights)

At 1:20 of the highlights videoclip which corresponds to the 65' of the match, Mateja Kezman (white 8) lunges at Javier Mascherano (blue 8). Here are the freeze frames:
Camera view 1

Camera view 2

Referee Roberto Rosetti sends off Kezman for SFP

There was nothing wrong with Italian Referee Roberto Rosetti's performance; he ended up refereeing a total of 4 matches at the WC in Germany.

Kezman sarcastically claps the Referee's decision while also trying to appear to clap for the fans

Kezman's two-footed lunge at his opponent is the same as Vincent Kompany's two-footed lunge at his opponent. Both were correctly sanctioned with a DFK to the other team and a red card to the offending player.

Follow Up:
FIFA's Disciplinary Committee gave Kezman a two-match ban for SFP (note: since then Serbia has never called up Kezman to play for his country again).
The FA's Disciplinary Commission upheld Kompany's three-match ban for SFP (note: as a result of a previous red card earlier in the season, Kompany received an extra one-match ban).

I hope this post, along with Part 1 and Part 2 completes this analysis of Chris Foy The Courageous.

I repeat. Chris Foy should be applauded for taking a firm stand against the expectation of leniency in the Premiership. Given the EPL's reputation, popularity and global following where entertainment is apparently prioritized over player safety, Chris Foy has clearly demonstrated Pierluigi Collina's Principle: “The best referee is one who has the courage to make decisions even when it would be easier not to.”

Aside: The interesting thing is that Mateja Kezman spent four months in Hong Kong in early 2011 and really got to like the place and its people. Toward the end of 2011, Kezman didn't appear to be having the best of times in terms of football (i.e. he played 11 games for Belarusian side BATE Borisov; 6 in the league and 5 in the Champions League, without scoring). Therefore, he announced he will end his career in Hong Kong this month, playing in an exhibition international four-team tournament called the Lunar New Year Cup.

It is nice to hear that Kezman has a fondness for Hong Kong and he is probably a nice guy. However from a Referee's perspective, on the pitch Kezman generally does not respect match officials and has a tendency to get himself in trouble during matches (e.g. Nicky Butt Sees Red in Hong Kong).

HKRef wishes everyone a prosperous Chinese New Year of the Dragon!
Thank you for visiting this site.

Excerpts from the South China Morning Post (SCMP)

HK matches will be Kezman's last
Serbian striker to appear for South China in Asian Challenge Cup before hanging up his boots for good
Chan Kin-wa
Jan 19, 2012

Former Serbia international Mateja Kezman will finish his glittering career in Hong Kong after playing for South China in the Asian Challenge Cup next week.

The 32-year-old striker, whose former clubs include PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, will return to Hong Kong tomorrow after agreeing to play for the Caroliners in the four-team tournament to celebrate Lunar New Year.

"Kezman likes Hong Kong very much and has had a lot support from fans during his time here," South China convenor Steven Lo Kit-sing said.

"If he wants a place to call it a day in his soccer career, there is no better place than Hong Kong. This is an honour for Hong Kong soccer. We will arrange some activities for him on the second day of the tournament, which will be Mateja's last match as he bids farewell to a career of almost two decades. We will reserve the number 38 jersey he used in Hong Kong."

Kezman joined Zemun in Belgrade as a 15-year-old before moving to Partizan, the country's leading club, four years later. He then joined Dutch side PSV Eindhoven from 2000 to 2003, scoring 35 goals in 2003 to help them win the league title. After playing for a long list of European clubs, he moved to South China in December 2010, along with former Manchester United star Nicky Butt.

The Serbian scored seven goals during his four-month stint with the Caroliners.

The influence of [Kezman and Butt], however, was not enough to help South China progress beyond the group stage of the AFC Cup. The Caroliners also lost the all-important local league title to Kitchee, a result which kept them out of this season's AFC Cup.