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Zakumi's game is Fair Play
March 4, 2010 11:17 AM   Subscribe

The paradinha is a devastating penalty kick tactic popularized by Pelé in the 1970s, and increasingly adopted by Brazilian players. This week soccer's primary governing organization, FIFA, will discuss the maneuver as it prepares for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As the Wall Street Journal [print version] explains: The paradinha (pronounced par-a-JEEN-ya) is performed on a penalty kick by the shooter, who pauses unexpectedly before striking the ball—or even swings his foot through the air several times—before making contact. It's designed to throw off the goalkeeper's timing. When executed properly, the move can have jaw-dropping results.

The paradinha is not currently banned, and FIFA says the earliest a ban could be put in place is 2011. As a result, "it will be up to each referee to decide whether to permit the move at the [2010] World Cup ... or whether to punish the maneuver as 'unsporting behavior'."

The WSJ article has an embedded video of a recent paradinha performed in a Brazillian match, also available on youtube (skip to 0:45). If you just want to see the paradinha performed over and over again, this video is a good start. Here is what happens when the paradinha doesn't work out as planned.

As Zakumi, the official mascot for the 2010 World Cup, says "Zakumi's game is Fair Play."
posted by 2bucksplus (72 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think it was damned unsporting of you to kick the ball into that part of the net I wasn't covering, Standish. Damned unsporting indeed.
posted by Naberius at 11:21 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, basically, it's a feint? A psych out? Why would that not be allowed?
posted by stenseng at 11:22 AM on March 4, 2010


Does this move have a special name when it's done during regular play?
posted by DU at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2010


For a guy that enjoys trick plays from any sport, I guess I'll have to settle for this in soccer.
posted by unixrat at 11:26 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Already some powerful forces have spoken out against it. "This is cheating," said FIFA President Joseph Blatter, talking about the paradinha at a meeting in Rio in September. "This 'stopping' must be stopped."

Well not cheating, but it does seem to unbalance the game. It reminds me a little of a balk in baseball which gives the pitcher a huge advantage when there are runners on base (which is why it is illegal.) If the paradinha makes the penalty kick basically an automatic goal then it sort of defeats the purpose of a penalty kick.
posted by three blind mice at 11:26 AM on March 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


That first video link also has a pretty great example of a soccer player really hamming up an injury for the referee/fans, complete with rolling around and clutching the "injured leg" to his chest.
posted by muddgirl at 11:26 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


We can dream, can't we?

A Visa ad that will be showing in the coming run-up to the World Cup.
posted by netbros at 11:27 AM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's that much of a problem. From the WSJ article:

The technique can backfire, especially for players who employ it too often. Mr. Ronaldo, while playing for Manchester United, couldn't make Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech flinch during the shootout phase of the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final. While Mr. Ronaldo stopped as if to kick, Mr. Cech waited calmly for the flustered Portuguese star's real shot and was able to block it.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:28 AM on March 4, 2010


I'm trying to understand why this wouldn't be allowed. And if it works so well, then everyone can learn how to do it. And the goalies will learn not to flinch. This should sort itself out without rule changes.
posted by grouse at 11:28 AM on March 4, 2010


From a goalie's perspective, it seems the penalty kick is unfair enough as is. Utilizing this maneuver seems to me to be akin to a free point.
posted by adamms222 at 11:28 AM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


From a viewer's perspective, enough important soccer games end in penalty kick shoot-outs that the massive advantage of the shooter over the goalie makes for some pretty boring play. It's already pretty much chip-ins until someone overshoots or the goalie gets lucky; kind of a letdown after watching a hotly contested game for 90 minutes.
posted by Valet at 11:41 AM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a sometime keeper, I can see why some would want this banned, but... it's not disallowed. That's where the breathtaking and wicked plays come from, the place where things are not not allowed but aren't obvious.

If it starts to disrupt play, like taking too long, then sure, it's worth talking about banning. But, if it's just a tactic that looks "unfair" because the poor keepers can't keep up, then fair play.

You don't like it, don't put on cleats.
posted by bonehead at 11:42 AM on March 4, 2010


I object to the words jaw-dropping results not being a link to jaw-dropping results. Please rectify reality for me. Thank you.
posted by Babblesort at 11:58 AM on March 4, 2010


I object to the words jaw-dropping results not being a link to jaw-dropping results. Please rectify reality for me. Thank you.

Motherfucking JAW-DROPPING RESULTS
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:01 PM on March 4, 2010


I think this would be most successful if used sparingly. If the keeper knows you're going to do this every time, he'll wait, knowing that your relatively weak shot will be easier to stop than if you had rocketed the ball at full speed.
posted by Mister_A at 12:08 PM on March 4, 2010


I don't follow any sports so I'm really not qualified to talk. But it always seemed to me that anything beyond the basic ruleset that makes the game more impressive to watch, and challenging to play, is a good thing. Paradinha? Do it. Steroids? Bring 'em on. Space-shuttle-tech swimsuits? You betcha. Sports should always be advancing toward superhuman spectacle.

But on the other hand, there should be multiple leagues for each sport. At least two: One where anything goes, and one for the purists. That way everybody's happy. If the former was created, I might actually start watching sports.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:09 PM on March 4, 2010


well, football purports to be a game that is more than usually concerned with sportsmanship, hence the offside rule.

OTOH, it seems to me that paradinha is the kicker's answer to the goalkeeper's tendency to take off early in reaction to his presumption of where the ball is going, based on the kicker's setup and move, rather than waiting for the ball to actually be struck, as he is bound by law to do.

in short, goalies cheat by jumping early; kickers compensate by striking late.
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:09 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also what about this? Should this be banned?

Here's something to think about: Don't foul inside the box, ding-dong!
posted by Mister_A at 12:10 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


We can dream, can't we?

A Visa ad that will be showing in the coming run-up to the World Cup.
posted by netbros at 2:27 PM on March 4 [+] [!]


and netbros, hell yeah! anybody know what that song is?
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:12 PM on March 4, 2010



in short, goalies cheat by jumping early; kickers compensate by striking late.


Goalies aren't really allowed to do that? I'm not sure exactly sure how anyone ever misses a penalty kick.

I mean, in the "doesn't work out" video the guy still should have gotten it if he kept his footing better and didn't kick like a girl. You have a lot of net to work with.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:14 PM on March 4, 2010


(Oh yeah, kicks like a girl is kinda sexist, sorry)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:16 PM on March 4, 2010


BEHOLD... THE FAKE!
posted by nathancaswell at 12:19 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to understand why this wouldn't be allowed. And if it works so well, then everyone can learn how to do it. And the goalies will learn not to flinch. This should sort itself out without rule changes.

From wikipedia:
Defending against a penalty kick is one of the most difficult tasks a goalkeeper can face. Due to the short distance between the penalty spot and the goal, there is very little time to react to the shot to try to make the save. Because of this, the goalkeeper will usually start his or her dive before the ball is actually struck. In effect, the goalkeeper must act on his best prediction about where the shot will be aimed. Some keepers decide which way they will dive beforehand, thus giving themselves a good chance of diving correctly. Others try to read the kicker's motion pattern. Kickers often feign and prefer a relatively slow shot on the other side in an attempt to foil the keeper. The potentially most fruitful approach, shooting high and center, i.e. in the space that the keeper will evacuate, also carries the highest risk of shooting above the post.
It's not flinching, it's deciding one way or another to go to block the ball. The area of the goal is huge vs. the goalie, and they must stay at the goal line, so they can't increase their chances of blocking the shot by getting closer. When the game is close, a shot can mean victory or loss.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:19 PM on March 4, 2010


One could always counteract this strategy by not being penalized.
posted by empath at 12:23 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


anybody know what that song is?
posted by toodleydoodley


The Pixies - Isla de Encanta
posted by filthy light thief at 12:24 PM on March 4, 2010


This is a penalty kick.
posted by Mister_A at 12:26 PM on March 4, 2010


"Also what about this? Should this be banned?"

No

If Blatter's against it, it can only be good for the sport.
posted by Auz at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The goalie gets one chance to block, so the kicker shouldn't get what amounts to two chances to shoot.
posted by Corduroy at 12:31 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


anybody know what that song is?

My AARP membership card must be in the mail.
posted by fleacircus at 12:32 PM on March 4, 2010


GOoooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaLLLLLL!!!!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:38 PM on March 4, 2010


Hence the title of Peter Handke's novel, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
posted by jhiggy at 12:40 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


FLT: as you point out, the box is a big area to defend if you can't move forward - but the trend has been to move forward, for at least a decade. remember the big rhubarb in the 1999 women's world cup when usa keeper briana scurry bolted forward before the touch, then tipped the chinese PK away from the goal?

here's NYT's description
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:41 PM on March 4, 2010


anybody know what that song is?

My AARP membership card must be in the mail.
posted by fleacircus at 3:32 PM on March 4 [+] [!]


whatevs, smartass ;-) I'm probably older than you, but you're cooler than me, ok?
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:42 PM on March 4, 2010


I'll take that deal.
posted by fleacircus at 12:43 PM on March 4, 2010


oh, wow, that song came out like my senior year in high school? that must have been the year I only listened to Neil Young...
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:44 PM on March 4, 2010


Anyway, I think purpose of the penalty kick is to put the offending team in a very bad spot. It is a PENALTY kick, not a UNICORN or PENGUIN or LOLLIPOP kick.
posted by Mister_A at 12:45 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


yeah, but in a gentlemanly or sporting way. like, "I'm here to penalize you, that's if it's all the same to you that is. Ok, ready?" TWEEEEEET!
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:47 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the Fifa Advice to referees [pdf]

"Feinting to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted as
part of football. However, if in the opinion of the referee the feinting
is considered an act of unsporting behaviour, the player shall be
cautioned.
"

So it may already be that some referees out there consider this unsporting behavior and call it as such. In other advice to referees, running past the ball and backing up to take the kick would be considered unsporting. It looks like they want to make sure this is applied consistently.
posted by mach at 12:48 PM on March 4, 2010


OTOH, it seems to me that paradinha is the kicker's answer to the goalkeeper's tendency to take off early in reaction to his presumption of where the ball is going, based on the kicker's setup and move, rather than waiting for the ball to actually be struck, as he is bound by law to do.


They changed that rule - keepers can move along the goal line, they just can't move forward from the goal line towards the kicker. I don't have any problem with the paradinha though (except that "Mr" Ronaldo, as the WSJ calls him, shouldn't have tried it in Moscow because he looked real stupid when Cech saved it, and was only redeemed by Terry slipping...)
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2010


I've watched the clips and tried to figure out for myself exactly why this would be illegal or unsportsman like. Since logic seems to fail, I assume that it must somehow be related to money.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:55 PM on March 4, 2010


Sportsmanship?

"Well there may be no score, but there's certainly no lack of excitement here. As you can see, Nietzsche has just been booked for arguing with the referee. He accused Confucius of having no free will, and Confucius he say, 'Name go in book.'"
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:56 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


in short, goalies cheat by jumping early; kickers compensate by striking late.

Keepers can move before the kick as long as they stay on the line between the goalposts. Stepping off the line before the kick is taken is an infringement, although I wouldn't necessarily call it cheating.
posted by mach at 12:57 PM on March 4, 2010


None of this makes football any less tedious.

Yeah, I said it.
posted by rusty at 12:58 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's Scurry's 1999 lunge forward off the line, if you can see through the enormous blocky pixels. actually, you can, and since the camera is right behind scurry, you can see where and when she moves, relative to the touch. this kick starts at 2:09.
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:59 PM on March 4, 2010


I guess the only thing I've proved is that female goalkeepers cheat. apparently the men are all pure as the driven snow.
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:00 PM on March 4, 2010


That's correct, toodleydoodley.
posted by Mister_A at 1:02 PM on March 4, 2010


I say leave it. A penalty should be a probably-a-goal. If the striker wants to give up a bit of shot power for some extra goalie confusion, then sweet. Perhaps the defenders will be less inclined to take down a man in the box.
posted by pompomtom at 1:08 PM on March 4, 2010


The rule should simply be what it is for American youth soccer. Once you've started toward the ball on a penalty kick, you can't stop and/or go backward. This is analogous to saying the goalie cannot leave the line before the ball is touched.
posted by jckll at 1:14 PM on March 4, 2010


the paradinha might be legal, maybe not too unsportsmanlike, but it's ugly. A penalty kick is a very asymmetrical one-on-one situation. The kicker is in a vastly superior position, whereas the goalie has a mostly random chance to stop the ball. A paradinha looks to me insulting and patronizing.

But the controversy seems to me diluted by the very unsportsmanlike behaviour that we see everyday in professional football. Players disrespecting the referee and their colleagues by feigning fouls, i hate that. I wish someday the players would call their own fouls, instead of making the regulators bring in cameras and more referees to make sure nobody's cheating.
posted by valdesm at 1:20 PM on March 4, 2010


So this would be soccer's version of a balk ?
posted by TedW at 1:28 PM on March 4, 2010


"Sports should always be advancing toward superhuman spectacle."

Understandable point of view from a spectator but often competitors have different goals.

"I've watched the clips and tried to figure out for myself exactly why this would be illegal or unsportsman like. Since logic seems to fail, I assume that it must somehow be related to money."

One would have to look at the scoring rates and make a judgment on how harsh you want the penalty to be. Take for example the extreme case where every successfully executed paradinha results in a goal vs. regular kicks scoring 50% of the time. The penalty for the rule infraction that results in a penalty kick has gotten twice as harsh. Similar rules exist in other sports. Besides the example with Baseball above Hockey requires the skater to continuously advance towards the goal.

Not only that but in a low scoring game like football many or even most games are going to be decided on that penalty kick. One can essentially replace the game with a 90 minute run and then a short two prong (pulling penalties and performing paradinhas) skills competition.
posted by Mitheral at 1:47 PM on March 4, 2010


Defending against a penalty kick is one of the most difficult tasks a goalkeeper can face.

I was completely mediocre defending penalty kicks, but it sounds like my method of guessing on a side and diving is what other people do. Since it was humiliating enough to choose wrong and dive on the ground the wrong way when the kickers weren't faking, I'm not a huge fan of this move but it's within the rules.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:11 PM on March 4, 2010


The results of FMRI analysis of human perception in action show that we act at least 1/10 of a second before we can fully process the event that we are reacting to. So us humans are real suckers for this kind of thing, something that only occurs in nature in evolved prey/predator interactions.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:16 PM on March 4, 2010


I've mulled this over intensely for many hours, and I've come to a final, inescapable conclusion:

Brazilian Portuguese is the sexist language in the world. Even when they're talking about soccer futbol.


that is all
posted by gottabefunky at 2:17 PM on March 4, 2010


Yeah, tricky one this. I think you have to allow it because it's not significantly less risky than other alternative penalty techniques. If you can stick it low and hard into either bottom corner then no amount of video research that the opposing goalkeeping staff does can stop you really, but a weakness for the caipirinha might be identified.

Penalty shootouts are a fundamentally flawed method of determining the outcome of a football match anyway. In the event of a tied score at full time play should continue until England wins. Regardless of who's playing.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:17 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ha.

"Sexiest."
posted by gottabefunky at 2:18 PM on March 4, 2010


In seriousness, what's the percentage of successful penalty kicks vs., say, hockey penalty shots?

The odds are really stacked against a goalkeeper in soccer, and this just seems to push it closer - if not over - the edge. Not that it should be banned, but still.

"Permitted" and "sporting" don't always overlap.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:22 PM on March 4, 2010


Penalty shots in hockey have a rule in which the player must constantly be moving forward before the shot is taken (no going backwards/no stopping). I think an analogous rule should be in effect for soccer.
posted by batou_ at 2:24 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that anyone who calls it soccer shouldn't be allowed to have an opinion about any of the rules, since they clearly know shit all about it
posted by criticalbill at 2:47 PM on March 4, 2010


As a keeper, this would really suck. I almost always guess and go. And you can certainly have your momentum going in your dive direction as long as your feet are still on the line. Didn't know about the side to side thing actually. That's pretty crazy. Need to find out what my league's rule is on that.
posted by Windopaene at 3:12 PM on March 4, 2010


Did they change rules since I played? Doesn't the penalty taker have to maintain forward motion?

Also - for famous instances of goalies coming off the line, have a look At Jersey Dudek's performance for Liverpool in the unforgettable Champions League final of 2005. He seemed to be half way to the penalty spot before the player kicked the ball on at least one occasion. And I'm a Liverpool fan.

Also Also - the term "soccer" is an English one.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 3:18 PM on March 4, 2010


A Visa ad that will be showing in the coming run-up to the World Cup.

It's already showing (and has been for some time). Incidentally I saw it a couple hours ago while I was watching basketball (home-court advantage in the Euroleague quarterfinals tyvm).

By the way, the goalkeeper doesn't always trust luck. Palop, Reina (scroll down), Dida, even our Nikopolidis is supposedly undefeated in Champions league from the spot. I think lately top-level keepers have been getting better in penalty shoot-outs, but I may simply not remember older games.
posted by ersatz at 3:23 PM on March 4, 2010


Also - the term "soccer" is an English one.

Which fell out of use in England a century ago. (I disagree with the other guy wholeheartedly though.)
posted by tigrefacile at 3:42 PM on March 4, 2010


It may be entirely legal, but one of the many reasons I don't watch a lot of football is the way the players seek to gain any possible advantage, regardless of what that means for fair play and sportsmanship. Players argue loudly and aggressively with the referee, knowing that the worst he can do is book them (which happens pretty rarely) - contrast this with rugby, where pretty much any dissent will get the penalty or scrum moved forwards ten metres. Then you have faked injuries - I remember a World Cup match years ago where a player angrily kicked the ball at another, with it bouncing off their elbow. Deserving of a yellow card? Yeah, but not deserving of the red card it drew when the hit player collapsed theatrically to the ground, clutching manically at his face.

Then you have the whole spectacle, apparently yoinked from pro wrestling, where "if the ref didn't see it, it didn't happen", which practically caused a diplomatic incident last year. Contrast that with, for example, snooker, where a player who brushes a ball with his sleeve - even if no-one sees it and it gives him no advantage whatsoever - will immediately stop and tell the referee, giving his opponent four free points and an opportunity to take the frame.

So, yeah, legal it may be, but I'd really rather we didn't go even further down the route of pushing the laws of the game as far as they can possibly go for the sake of a temporary advantage, thanks.
posted by ZsigE at 3:45 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's this thing I've seen Gerrard do a few times. When he's about to take a free kick (not a penalty) he'll run up to the ball and stop. Of course, the wall has moved up a few feet (or more) and he'll start to complain to the referee about encroachment, but then suddenly he'll pass the ball to another Liverpool player. This generally works pretty well.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 4:26 PM on March 4, 2010


Holds it, holds it...

Soccer: Not paradinha, parada mesmo.
posted by chavenet at 4:33 PM on March 4, 2010


It may be entirely legal, but one of the many reasons I don't watch a lot of football is the way the players seek to gain any possible advantage, regardless of what that means for fair play and sportsmanship.

Don't watch cricket then.

Seriously, though, your example with snooker is... apples and oranges. Snooker is a game where players enjoy long playing lives and where the players are responsible only to themselves. A footballer is responsible to his coach and his team. Or do you really think the consequences for a top snooker player giving away an advantage because it's unsporting to take it are the same as a player contracted to Alex Fergusson?
posted by rodgerd at 11:16 PM on March 4, 2010


Which fell out of use in England a century ago.

Sure, if by "a century ago" you mean 30 years ago at the outside, 13 in the case of the Grauniad.
posted by asterix at 11:53 PM on March 4, 2010


It's legal, and it isn't necessarily effective. The player may (may!) throw off the keeper, but he pays a big price: momentum. There's a good reason why players run up to the ball when taking a free kick or a penalty: a standing kick is much, much slower. To be any good in PKs, a keeper has to be a gifted mind reader: as it has been pointed out, it's often necessary to jump before the player actually hits the ball. That implies guessing in advance where the player is going to kick it. A keeper who's good at this should also be able to guess when the player is going to feint...
posted by Skeptic at 11:56 PM on March 4, 2010


Brazilian Portuguese is the sexiest language in the world.

Portuguese Portuguese always sounds like a Russian trying to speak Spanish. Not sexy.
posted by ninebelow at 2:32 AM on March 5, 2010


Or do you really think the consequences for a top snooker player giving away an advantage because it's unsporting to take it are the same as a player contracted to Alex Fergusson?

I don't care what sport you're playing, how many people are on your team, or who you're contracted to - if you use bad sportsmanship to gain yourself an advantage, you're a massive dick. Are you saying that it's OK for footballers to be unsporting, because if they're not their boss will shout at them?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:41 AM on March 5, 2010


If the issue is unfair advantage for the free kicker, why not just move the free kick spot back farther? And if it originated from Pele, it should be in football, taking it out would be sacrilegious.
posted by forforf at 6:21 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


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