Mykola Neseniuk: "Football Dances"

2023-06-04 20:29 A well-known journalist Mykola Nesenyuk wrote on his Facebook page about some of the nuances of ... Mykola Neseniuk: "Football Dances"
04.06.2023, 20:29

A well-known journalist Mykola Nesenyuk wrote on his Facebook page about some of the nuances of the modern defensive game.

Nikolay Nesenyuk

A typical picture of modern football is the behaviour of defenders in their own penalty area. As soon as a player from the opposing team gets there with the ball, the defenders put their hands behind their backs and start to look not like footballers but like dancers performing an authentic Carpathian Hutsul dance. Historically, until recently, there was nothing like this in football. You can remember for yourself, you can watch a video, you can ask those who are older to make sure that the above-mentioned "dances" of defenders with their hands behind their backs have emerged historically recently. Back in the glory days of the Shevchenko-Rebrov football generation, defenders moved normally near their own goal, not like Hutsul dancers. What had to happen and when did it happen for everything to change so much? What was the reason for the fundamental change in the tactics of playing football at your own goal?

It happened on 28 June 2000 in the semi-final match of Euro 2000, where the then world champions, the French, played the Portuguese for the right to play in the final. Three minutes before the end of extra time, when the score was 1-1, the Frenchman Vitord scored a great shot along the Portuguese goal and the ball hit the hand of the Portuguese Chavier, who was simply standing in the way of the ball, arms down. There was no "hand play", which is an offence under football rules. Because until then, the "handball" prohibited in football was just that - a game - when a player deliberately hits the ball with his hand, as in volleyball or basketball. I would like to remind you that football is the only ball game in the world where playing with your hands is prohibited. Any "Auntie Tanya" who knows nothing about football, but is able to distinguish between a deliberate handball and an accidental hit to the hand, is quite capable of distinguishing between a handball and a ball hit to the hand. This is obvious to everyone. But not for football referees, whose actions have changed fundamentally since 28 June 2000.

The decision of Austrian referee Gunther Bencke, who deprived Portugal of the European Championship final by awarding an unfair eleven-metre penalty in favour of France, which Zidane gleefully converted, had to be explained somehow. It could not be said openly that the final with the world champions from France was more financially attractive than the same game with Portugal. Therefore, football arbitration experts began to spin like crucians in a frying pan, explaining that Chavier's hand prevented the ball from going into the goal. And what was Chavier supposed to do - cut off his arm or something? So that the Frenchman's arm wouldn't prevent him from hitting the goal! That's when all this talk about the "natural position" of the arm, which is determined exclusively by the referee, began, and since then he has become a real arbiter of fate on the football field. That's why footballers now hide their hands behind their backs to avoid any accident and thus distort the sport. You would agree that playing football with your hands behind your back is somewhat awkward and unnatural. So why did those referees, along with the leaders of world football, have to complicate and confuse things so much?

There is one turn on the Kyiv-Chop motorway where a police car suddenly appears in front of the driver, hidden next to a pedestrian crossing. For more than thirty years of regular trips between Rivne and Kyiv, I have never seen a pedestrian at this crossing. I have seen only traffic police inspectors, now renamed police officers, who have been "fed" by this crossing for decades and will continue to be fed. It is impossible to prove to these policemen that you did not do anything dangerous by not slowing down before the always empty crosswalk. More precisely, it is possible, but with the help of additional "arguments". In the same way, the idiotic version of the handball interpretation introduced in the summer of 2000 has made football referees, along with those who influence them, omnipotent. Now, a penalty can be awarded even if the defender did not see the kick at all, standing with his back to the ball. A skilful referee will always prove that the player's hand was in an "unnatural position" at that moment.

What do you expect? There is a lot of money being invested in football these days. Therefore, we cannot allow the team in which this money is invested to lose at the wrong time. Therefore, for a long time to come, we will see footballers performing an exotic dance with their hands behind their backs rather than a game.

Mykola Neseniuk

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