What Planet Are You From?
February 12, 2014 10:58 AM   Subscribe

How many of the 114,580 people in Estadio Azteca on June 22, 1986, missed one or both of Diego Maradona’s goals against England because they were in the bathroom or buying a Budweiser? The two legendary goals that decided the World Cup quarterfinal occurred in quick succession shortly after the start of the second half. In the 51st minute, the Hand of God beat the hand of Shilton. Only four minutes later, while the outrage of English fans and players was still raw, El Diego received the ball in his own half, facing his own net. It took him 11 touches and 10.6 seconds to beat six opponents—Beardsley, Reid, Butcher (twice), Fenwick, and the goalkeeper, Shilton—and bury what many consider to be the greatest goal of all time.
posted by the man of twists and turns (14 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Over the course of his commentary on Maradona’s second goal, Butler moves from belittlement to graciousness. Rhetorically, the passage is marked by a rhythmic repetition of phrases that stack up harmoniously. His use of “little eel” and “little squat man” in the first two sentences hints at an irritation that was probably shared by all England fans in the immediate aftermath of the Hand of God. Yet, after Maradona dismantles the Three Lions’ defense, Butler generously praises the Argentinean, briefly touches on the injustice of the first goal, and concludes with an admission of being outclassed. While he never explicitly mentions the Falklands War, Butler’s triple use of the expression “leaves him for dead” as well as “buried the English defense” is perhaps an unconscious summoning of these ghosts.
That's some overthinking of the given plate of beans right there. "Little eel" is entirely complementary in the context and "little squat man" is simply descriptive (it's radio commentary so he's painting the scene for listeners); "leaves him for dead" and "buried the English defense" are just bog-standard English idiom.
posted by yoink at 11:11 AM on February 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Growing up I watched tons of feats of individual prowess in basketball and (American) football that involved a single athlete taking on a whole team by himself, but it wasn't until I watched soccer for a few years that I realized how rarely that sort of thing happens on the pitch.

As a result, at first I didn't think Maradona's second goal was all that fantastic. But now I know. Dribbling past six players and scoring is something that could happen in a pick-up game if there was enough of a talent disparity. But for it to happen in a World Cup game is unreal.

As for the Hand of God goal: yeah, it was ridiculous, but so is Maradona. Enough ink has been wasted on fury directed his way. I'm more disappointed in the system that allows that goal to be awarded even though everyone else on the field clearly saw the ball go off the dude's arm. We expect one referee and a couple of linesman (who can only make recommendations) to see everything that goes on, even off-the-ball stuff. The NFL and NCAA use seven referees to monitor the same number of players.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:16 AM on February 12, 2014

I don't think it's beanplating - the war was a huge event for the UK and the newspapers at this time still openly referred to 'Argies' etc. BBC commentators, by contrast, knew they had to scrupulously avoid anything like that, but these martial metaphors slipped out, and they are unusual in a football context. There are an infinite number of phrases you can pick, and he chose these ones.
posted by colie at 11:21 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's similar to Saeed Al-Owairan's goal against Belgium in the '94 World Cup, which I witnessed from the stands.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 11:23 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

these martial metaphors slipped out

But as has been noted ad nauseam, martial metaphors are everywhere in sports commentary, even when commenting on domestic matches, or intra-city matches. They are so ubiquitous that it's simply meaningless to try to make some interpretive claim about any single instance of them. To make any meaningful claim about this you'd have to do a frequency analysis comparing the percentage of times British commentators used martial metaphors in describing all the other matches in the World Cup and the percentage of times they used them in describing the match with Argentina.
posted by yoink at 11:26 AM on February 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

These folks (Howler Magazine) have really been crushing the soccer reporting/magazine market lately. Big big fan.
posted by inigo2 at 11:33 AM on February 12, 2014

but these martial metaphors slipped out, and they are unusual in a football context

Leaving a defender for dead is definitely a standard piece of the commentator's toolkit, along with marshalling the defense, winning the midfield battle, being outfought, launching raids down the left touchline, etc.
posted by kersplunk at 1:12 PM on February 12, 2014

I'm still bitter about Luis Suarez's nasty cheating against Ghana in 2010, blocking what would have been Ghana's winning goal with his hand. People are right to still be angry about Maradona.
posted by winna at 1:15 PM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

People are right to still be angry about Maradona.

It's 2014. Assuming the players are roughly the same distrubution as at the 2010 world cup: the average player at this year's world cup, 28 years later, wasn't even born when Maradona scored that goal. Anyone who can't move on yet ought to get therapy.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:22 PM on February 12, 2014

Anyone who can't move on yet ought to get therapy.

posted by lalochezia at 7:24 PM on February 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ah, El Diego. What a guy.

For me, the most amazing Diego moments were actually at Italia '90 -- first there was the way he got booed in the first match against Cameroon in Milan. Then there was his 'other' amazing slaloming run to take out 4 Brazilian defenders and pass to Caniggia who had only the goalkeeper to beat; and lastly the surreal build up to the Italy v Argentina semifinal in Naples.

Considering that Italy had played all their previous games in Rome; that many Northern Italians had (and continue to have) some bigoted and disgusting views of Southern Italians; that Naples adored (and still adores) Diego, who knew the issues and wasted no time in asking the Napoli fans to support Argentina while many northerners exhorted the Neapolitans to be patriotic; what we got was a match played in an atmosphere of incredible paralyzing tension, the likes of which I've hardly ever seen since.
posted by all the versus at 10:47 PM on February 12, 2014

Here's another camera angle of the goal that has been found recently.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 3:31 AM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm still bitter about Luis Suarez's nasty cheating against Ghana in 2010, blocking what would have been Ghana's winning goal with his hand.

Is every intentional foul considered "cheating"? It was a quick-thinking play to save his team and he was appropriately sent off for it.

The difference is that Maradona got away with it.
posted by inigo2 at 9:02 AM on February 13, 2014

The difference is that Maradona got away with it.

That, and the smarmy "Hand of God" comment after the match really did kinda deliberately rub salt in the wound. I think if he'd just said "hey, it's up to the refs to make the calls and sometimes the breaks go our way and sometimes they go the other team's way" the whole thing would have blown over a lot more quickly. But Maradona was never exactly self-effacing.
posted by yoink at 9:32 AM on February 13, 2014

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