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I was watching a Brazil vs. USA friendly on open television and it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Not only because Brazil played like shit (I’m starting to get used to that), and not only because the grass on the field was so bad that any ref with a modicum of guts would have stopped the game from happening, but mainly because the commentators had no fucking clue of what they were talking about.
It got me thinking; no wonder Americans can’t watch soccer! Much of watching the game is about the commentator – a good game can be unwatchable with a bad commentator.
The abysmal lack of understanding of the game is understandable for a lay person, but if you are a professional and that is your job, you should at least know how to fake it.
An example was when Ronaldinho or Robinho, I can’t remember now, he ran faster than the defender and got to the ball close to the U.S. goal area. Since the defender came in late with no chance of getting to the ball, he went for the legs. The Brazilian player jumped over the defender and rolled on the ground, and the ref called a foul, correctly.
The commentator, who had been talking about some other shit that had nothing to do with the game (like he did most of the game) starts railing against the ref’s call. He constantly screamed about the fact that there was no contact. The thing is, in soccer, you don’t have to touch the other player to have a foul.
Things to know about the foul. There are intentional and non-intentional fouls. There fouls in which you touch the opponent, fouls in which you don’t, and times when you do, but is not a foul. The ref can call a foul when:

  1. You trip, hit, jump in or at, charge, tackle or push the opponent.
  2. You prevent the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands, contact or no contact.
  3. Obstruction is when the defender cuts the running direction of the other player.
  4. You come at the opponent in a way that could potentially lead to serious injury.

The first one is pretty self evident, if you except what Brazilians call jogo de corpo. Jogo de corpo is when you use your body mass, and not momentum, in a dispute with the other player that is lined up shoulder to shoulder with you. That means you can lean on him, to prevent him to getting to the ball.
The second means that, if the goalie has the ball in his hands, you must position yourself away enough from him so he can throw or kick the ball back into the game. That only applies as long as the ball in in the goalies hands; as soon as he lets go, is all good, as it can be seen in this video:

The third one means that if player is running towards the ball, you cannot stop in front of him and stop him from running by you. It is somewhat interpretative (as most soccer rules are), for you can use you body protect the ball from the the offending player, just don’t dislodge him out of his trajectory.
The last one: don’t raise your feet with your soles going towards the other player, or close to the head or body of another player in a downward motion, cuz you might hurt someone bad.

Ah, yeah, an another thing: Keep your hands away from the frikkin’ ball!

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