Whether it’s a controversy over goal-line technology, a linesman plastered across newspapers after a dubious call, or a referee put to the sword after falling prey to a bit of simulation in the box, football is a sport preoccupied with its own minutiae. So much so, that for all the vitriol and passion that trails every small incident on the pitch, it’s often easy to forget that at the end of the day, football is just a game.
San Sebastian-based artist Maider López built upon that premise with her Polder Cup project, where she hosted a football tournament in Southern Holland across a series of mismatched pitches. From jagged boundary lines to hollows and bumps littering the field and even ditches of water splitting fields in two, Maider parodied the rigid official rule-set by creating a situation in which players had to adapt their strategy and interpretation of the rules to the environment around them.
“I have not seen a single slave in Qatar. I don’t know where those reports come from. I have been to Qatar many times and therefore have a different view, which, I believe, is more realistic." - Franz Beckenbaurer
Franz, it might be time to rethink that position. The ongoing exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar is an established fact at this point, and a recent report by Amnesty International further confirms what we already knew: Qatar is a nation whose explosive growth has been based on the systemic exploitation of migrant workers. Whether it’s the latest hotel in Doha, a man-made luxury island, or a stadium fit for a World Cup Final, odds are, it’s been built on the back of a maltreated and underpaid slave workforce.
“The goalkeeper picks a side and dives 93.7 percent of the time and just stands in the middle only 6.3 percent of the time. There was a clear bias toward action.”
The Journal of Economic Psychology recently looked at the link between decision making and penalty kicks, and found, somewhat surprisingly, that goalkeepers might be better off doing nothing at all.
Analyzing close to 300 penalty kick situations, the study considered goalkeeper’s decisions in regards to which direction to move towards, the area to which the ball was actually kicked, and most importantly, whether the penalty was actually blocked.
The conclusion? Goalkeepers dive right or left 93.7% of the time, and choose to remain in the center in only 6.3% of penalty kick situations.
The problem comes from the fact that the direction of penalty kicks were distributed much more evenly, with almost 30% of penalty kicks sent towards the center of the goal.
The researchers point towards something called action bias. Essentially, there’s an accepted norm that goalkeepers dive when attempting to block penalty kicks. If they fail to block a penalty kick when diving, they are considered to have made an effort; if they stay in the center when a penalty tucks into a corner, they’re lazy, indecisive, and made no attempt to block the ball. Goalkeepers favor action because of social expectations.
We traveled to the Montréal Impact’s Stade Saputo at the end of March, and caught it in a Wintry state before the stadium’s season opener. Make sure to watch this in high definition. The place is nothing short of beautiful.