Penalty or Not: Nicola Rizzoli and Spain v. Netherlands
First of all, let me start off by saying I’m partial to this referee. And not just because he’s a hottie. I’ve watched him in Serie A and Europe for literally years, and I love his style.
So there’s that.
I also thought he pretty much kicked ass in this game; his demeanor, his utter lack of patience (he really doesn’t have much of that, on the best of days) and his assistants’ active involvement actually kept this match from descending into the violence we all remember from 2010.
And that penalty call was incredibly brave, considering what happened in the opener. The man truly has no fear.
But was he correct?
I believe he was (and most pundits agree with me), but considering my own bias, we’ll do Penalty or Not in a slightly different way, with the arguments for or against.
First of all, here is a view of the penalty on Spain’s Diego Costa from my new Twitter friend @unparteiisch:
Here’s another look from Business Insider. (It should be noted that no referee – center or assistant – would have had this angle.)
In Favor: Stefan de Vrij slides in late and hooks his leg behind him, appearing to make contact with Costa. Even if Costa reaches out behind him with the leg, it’s not his responsibility to get out of the way. And the Law is pretty clear that a dramatic fall isn’t the same as simulation. De Vrij should not have gone to ground that way and he knew it. Penalty
Against: Diego Costa reached out behind him and if there was contact, he initiated it. He lifted his foot up and reached out for the Dutch player. If you look at the second gif, there may not have even been contact. Not a penalty
Update: This was such a great comment by Will (below) that I wanted to move it up so you got a chance to see it. This breaks down what happens in a call like this brilliantly:
“There’s no question in my mind that the referee was well positioned to see the incident , which he saw while running and decided instantly.
Speaking as a referee, and I am trying to give insight into the thought process without worrying about frame-by-frame factual analysis, here’s what I think influenced his decision: the defender shifted his left leg towards the attacker while the ball was not in playing distance. The whistle went to his mouth.
The left feet touched, and the attacker lost advantage. Whistle sounds. There’s only one restart. At that point it’s in the hands of the soccer gods.
De Vrij made a careless slide, and it got punished. Teams are already starting to clean up play in the Penalty Area, on corners and so on.”
What do you think? Penalty or not? Let us know below.